DEFLECTION is one of the oldest tricks in the book in politics: if you create enough bogus noise it can draw attention away from the things that matter. And that’s most likely the case with the hullabaloo around the Prime Minister’s Highland getaway, coinciding as it did with the sixth poll showing majority support for independence, the English exams crisis and a looming No-Deal Brexit.

This story – of a PM “chased” out of Scotland by a “mob of Scottish nationalists” – doesn’t stack up. Did they really expect the west Highlands to be desolate – that no local people should wander by and be curious? What exactly was the nature of the “threat” to the PM?

The only known culprit is the Daily Mail, which chose to publish his location, a move hailed by Piers Morgan as a “brilliant scoop”.

It’s completely reasonable for any Prime Minister or First Minister and their family to want to feel safe and protected – particularly away from home. Our police are among the best in the world at protecting people in the public eye.

The sad truth is that it’s hard to believe a single word crafted by Dominic Cummings et al, who were quick to accuse Ian Blackford of revealing the Prime Minister’s whereabouts – despite the fact that the Skye based MP lives about 100 miles away from the PM’s swanky yurt.

Given how little we know about the Mail’s sources, or the story in general, I find Neil Oliver’s take on Twitter – questioning whether Scotland is as welcoming as it once was – totally baffling.

READ MORE: Neil Oliver panned over suggestion Boris Johnson was 'unsafe' in Scotland

If a Prime Minister’s holiday plans are revealed, whether it’s Applecross or Aldridge, it tells you absolutely nothing about those places or their people. The most it reveals is Number 10’s inability to plan a holiday.

Let’s consider the face that Scotland shows to the world.

In 2017 Scotland was voted by Rough Guide readers as the most welcoming country in the world. Indeed we often top the charts of the friendliest nations in Europe and the world.

But it’s not just the simple economic incentives of tourism and hospitality that makes us friendly – it’s also how we treat the most vulnerable. The Scottish Government welcomed twice as many Syrian refugees per capita as the UK did. We have repeatedly condemned the UK’s Government’s “hostile environment” immigration policy. And when various Tory governments treated EU nationals as bargaining chips, we reassured them that Scotland will always be their home.

I have personal experience of a Scottish welcome. When my grandparents first moved to Helensburgh in the 1950s they started off with nothing. They would never have thrived without their new friendships and the support of the communities who got behind them and helped their small business grow.

And since moving to Scotland as a child in 1992 I’ve never once felt like I didn’t belong here. My primary school teacher had taught my classmates some Italian before I arrived, since I didn’t speak any English. We got by the first few months gesticulating – not a hard task for an Italian seven-year-old.

Like every nation we have our challenges, of course we do. Racism, sectarianism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination very much still exist – we must look them squarely in the face, and do more to tackle them. But they do not define us as a nation.

And it’s a similar picture with our constitutional debate. There are extremes at both ends that only hurt their respective causes. The protester at Edinburgh Airport, for example, does not speak for the SNP. Tory MSP Rachel Hamilton earlier this week claimed Scotland is “overrun by SNP bigots” while Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP shamelessly tried to portray the party – me included – as anti-English. This behaviour is not fitting for elected office.

READ MORE: Tory MSP apologises after blaming SNP for 'xenophobic behaviour'

Support for independence will continue to rise – for many Scots Brexit and the UK’s handling of Covid19 are the tipping point. That means that efforts to talk Scotland down and smear the SNP will intensify. But as the national majority the onus is on us to lead this debate with humility and respect.

Scotland is a welcoming country. And we won’t allow the Better Together spin factory to tell us and the world otherwise.