THE gold award for the ironic performance of the week must go to Holyrood’s richest MSP, Eton-educated multi-millionaire Alexander James Amherst Burnett of Leys – fourth great grandson of Czar Nicholas I – who spoke in the Scottish Parliament’s stage one debate on the Referendum Bill.

Upbraiding me for daring to have an opinion on the issue of question testing, he solemnly warned me that “arrogance and fear are no way to legislate” and then went on to denounce the very idea of giving the ordinary Scot an opportunity to have his or her say about their own future as an action tantamount to “disrespecting” voters. The duty of the Tories to protect democracy against the dastardly SNP was his theme, echoing a semi-hysterical contribution only moments earlier from that professor of constitutional law turned Tory MSP, Adam Tomkins, who was also brazen in his assertion about the Tories’ role in defending best democratic practice.

This was all bogus tosh, of course. But the irony arose not just from the performances but from what was happening at precisely the same time. Whilst Burnett and Tomkins were on their feet their party leader was visiting a distillery in Elgin and trashing the very idea of democracy.

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The Guardian journalist Libby Brooks quoted him as saying he would not “grant the powers for a second independence referendum regardless of whether the SNP wins a majority of seats in this election OR wins a pro-independence Holyrood majority in 2021”.

In a country with a largely unwritten constitution it is particularly important that there is a shared understanding and shared agreement about the rules and norms of democratic practice.

To date it has been surprisingly rare for any political party to deliberately subvert those norms but that is exactly what we are now seeing from the Tories, led by Johnson and assisted by a smokescreen of false indignation and a downpour of crocodile tears from people like Burnett and Tomkins.

Of course Johnson knows that he is not, in the end, the arbiter of what a democratic vote does, or doesn’t, lead to. His sidekick Dominic Cummings (below) tried that one on with Westminster journalists over a month ago, asserting that even if Johnson was defeated in a vote of no confidence he wouldn’t vacate Downing Street. That wasn’t true. The reality is that he would have had no choice.

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There is a similar reality at play here. If the Scottish people vote for a party that demands a right for Scotland to be heard and if, by so doing, that party secures a majority of seats from Scotland in a Westminster election, or forms a Scottish Government, that demand cannot be ignored and the longer any attempt is made to ignore it, the worse the problem would get for any PM.

That problem would not be just domestic. The UK is in bad enough odour in Europe as a result of Brexit and Johnson’s attempts to misrepresent what he has actually signed up to, a situation made worse again this week as a result of his rambling rant at a party in Northern Ireland.

If he was then to insist that democracy didn’t matter and that Scotland had no legitimate means of choosing its future at all then the UK’s reputation, its credit rating, its ability to trade and its presence in wider international fora would be greatly jeopardised. The pursuit of redress through the courts and the strengthening of independence feeling in the Parliament and country would also all be likely consequences.

In fact the whole ploy is not designed to indicate an intention, but to try to produce a result. His Tory Party is not defending democracy but trying to force the Scottish people to give it up. But this goes to show how little Johnson knows of Scotland, though that is scarcely surprising as he never meets any ordinary Scottish voters.

So let me tell him that we don’t take kindly to bullying bluster and we tend to be leery of proven liars. In addition we have learned not to trust Tories of any sort whether they be parachuting in for the day, or making preposterous claims from the opposition benches in Holyrood. In fact, like the hapless Kirstene Hair discovered on Question Time on Thursday night, sometimes now our reaction is just to laugh at the mention of their names.