ONE of the more gruesome spectacles at a Trump rally was the chorus of “lock her up” whenever Hillary Clinton was mentioned.

Towards the end of last year’s Presidential campaign, frustrated by the fact that democracy couldn’t be bought or bullied, Trump not only echoed the call but lambasted the failure of his Attorney General to deliver on it.

“He’s got all the information he needs,” Trump told a rally in Florida last October. “They want to get more, more, more. They keep getting more. I said, ‘you don’t need any more’.”

Sound familiar? It should because it is pretty much what Tory Scottish leader Douglas Ross was saying last Tuesday night about Nicola Sturgeon. Demanding her immediate resignation, his official press statement – and I quote it exactly – asserted that: “No evidence she provides tomorrow will counter the claims of numerous witnesses.”

In other words “you don’t need any more”. We’ve heard enough – just ‘lock her up!’.”

It was the week that Trumpism came to Holyrood, although I am told that senior Tories in Scotland were blindsided by Ross and his excitable, conspiracy theory-addicted press office, resulting in the call for a motion of no confidence being made without preparing the ground, talking to his own or other parties, understanding how the Scottish Parliament works or even considering the electoral optics of trying to silence Scotland’s First Minister.

Another variant on another Trump slogan, again aimed at Scotland, came 48 hours later from the “Spectator Set”, the Andrew Neil-led group of right-wing Tories, many of them Scottish expats, with connections to, and some influence on, the current UK Government. “Drain the Swamp” was essentially the message of the latest leader in the London-based magazine, which presents a melange of misinformation, masquerading as reportage, and then demands that Westminster step in to correct the supposed evils of devolution by further restricting the powers of the elected Scottish Government no matter the wishes – or votes – of the Scottish people.

Given the UK Tory Government is already undermining devolution, this prospect must now be taken seriously, even though in any normal democracy it would be regarded as an outrage or simply laughed out of existence.

However, we presently live under a constitutional settlement in which such a thing could be imposed without even consulting Scotland and that is what The Spectator is seriously arguing for, aided and abetted by the Scottish Tories.

The soon to be ennobled Ruth Davidson repeated the “lock her up” message at First Minister’s Questions despite an unprecedented eight hours of calm, detailed and courteous explanation to the inquiry committee by Nicola Sturgeon the day before.

Moreover, the Tories still have lodged for parliamentary business not one but two motions of no confidence, hoping to decapitate the elected Scottish Government in the midst of a pandemic if others can be persuaded to sign on for such a self-destructive strike.

But, to quote a third Trump slogan, there are signs that many Scottish voters will use democracy to “Stop the Steal”. The Tories appear to have dropped in polling and thousands of people have joined the SNP in reaction to the First Minister’s candid, at times apologetic, but always empathetic appearance before the committee.

I suspect that is because most Scots don’t like seeing their democratic institutions, or their leaders, being misrepresented and misused by those who only wish them ill.

It’s understandable that some Tories are utterly scunnered by the failure of their party to make any democratic headway in Scotland.

But it is a big step from that to the type of cynical exploitative, abusive behaviour that uses the cry of “lock her up” to try to grab what democracy is denying them.

In one of her meandering interventions at the committee last Wednesday, Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell gave the game away when she used the phrase “if the SNP were to be elected again”.

That is what the Tories – north and south of the Border – are trying to stop, by any means they can.

I don’t think they will succeed. They will be defeated by the type of truth telling we saw from Nicola Sturgeon this week for that is what will be at the front and centre of the coming Holyrood election campaign.

Taking responsibility, learning lessons, sorting problems, trusting Scottish voters, championing the rights of all and aiming high for the future are the things which characterise the First Minister and the SNP.

They are also the best antidotes to the ugly brutality and arrogant boorishness of imitative Scottish Tory Trumpism.