INTOXICATED with her surge in the opinion polls, Ruth Davidson has been in full splenetic flow of late. This week she accused the First Minister of a “whopper” and of “treating the electorate as fools”.

The Scottish Tory leader has clearly been studying the rhetoric that carried Donald Trump to the White House. Whip up fear and loathing of your main political opponent and repeat a blatant lie over and over again at full volume until its starts to gain a bit of credence.

For the past year, she has incessantly accused the First Minister of being obsessed with independence.

As I was writing this column, I Googled the words “Ruth Davidson independence”. Up came 456,000 hits. I then googled the words “Nicola Sturgeon independence” – and got 425,000. Even the mathematics confirm that the leader of the Tory Party in is more fixated on independence than the leader of the SNP. That’s quite a feat, to be honest. So, isn’t it about time the MSP for Edinburgh Central got on with the day job of representing her constituents instead of spending every waking hour fighting a referendum that hasn’t even been called?

If anyone treats the electorate like fools it’s Ruth Davidson. Last week, I got two election leaflets through my door for the Strathtay ward in Perth and Kinross. One was all about independence and the SNP – and had next to nothing to say about local services. That was from the Tories.

The other talked about affordable homes, thermal insulation, the frail elderly, education, rural bus services, parking charges, employment, local businesses and the environment. That was from the SNP.

Ruth Davidson doesn’t want an independence referendum, that’s clear. But she wants the debate over the Scotland’s future to rage on, day in day out, in perpetuity. She wants to talk about nothing else. She wants to have her say – but she doesn’t the want the people of Scotland to have their say.

For the Tory Party, it’s the best of both worlds. The truth is, the Tories want the constitutional debate over Scotland’s future to rage on from now until eternity, as long as it’s never put to the vote. It’s a great diversion from rising inequality, benefit cuts, low pay, growing unemployment and destruction of public services.

And no one does British nationalism better than the Tories. Unlike Labour and the LibDems, they have no qualms about draping themselves in Union Flags, belting out Rule Britannia, whipping up fear of foreigners and harking back to the glory days of the British empire. In the contest to be the loudest, proudest, most belligerent Unionists, the Tories were always going to beat Labour and the LibDems hands down.

The recent YouGov poll that showed the Tories on 28 per cent also revealed almost a third of Labour voters – and the same proportion of LibDems – have abandoned their party for the Tories since 2015.

Ruth Davidson has failed to destroy the SNP and the independence cause, but succeeded in demolishing her erstwhile Unionist allies. She has knocked Labour senseless– so senseless that the party still doesn’t seem capable of grasping that it has no future as a Unionist party.

So, hello. Are there any Scottish Labour members out there ready to draw the conclusion that hundreds of thousands of their supporters drew several years ago – that independence is the easiest, shortest, most direct route out of the right-wing cauldron we live in? And are there any realists in the party ready to face up to the fact that the Scottish Labour movement will remain stuck in the twilight world of the living dead until Scotland moves forward to independence?

IN the meantime, politics in Scotland is locked in a state of suspended animation. Whatever is written on the leaflets going through the doors this week, Thursday’s election in Scotland is not going to be decided on the basis of which party is best to run local services. Nor is the General Election going to be about which party has the best Westminster manifesto.

Politics is about momentum. If the SNP make major gains on Thursday, that success is likely to drive forward a stronger SNP vote in June. And that in turn would strengthen the entire independence movement. I would rather be living in a Scotland where we vote for the party that best reflects our broader ideology. Independence could lead to a flourishing of democracy, with a range of parties representing different sections of society – including those who now have no political voice – under a genuinely proportional electoral system.

I’d like to vote for a party that promises to deliver equality for women, establish a Scottish currency, massively reduce defence spending, get us out of NATO, renegotiate our relations with the European Union, extend public and community ownership of land, transport, energy and other utilities, regulate big business and bring in a fair taxation system that closes the economic gulf between the rich and poor. Oh, and abolish the monarchy.

But for now, I’ll continue voting for the SNP, because it’s the only party which can break the stalemate. The Tories want it to continue. Labour and the LibDems just hope it goes away so we can return to the good old days when most people didn’t bother their little heads about politics, but turned out dutifully for the same party their parents and grandparents voted for.

But independence is not going away. According to last week’s YouGov poll, over 65s would vote No in a referendum by a margin of 76 to 24 cent. But among the under-50s, independence remains decisively in the lead.

So, the battle between the past and the future will be with us for some time to come. And when the dust settles on these two elections, I hope within the Labour movement there will be people prepared to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if they really want to end up on the wrong side of history.