FROM my mother I inherited two battered old suitcases of family pictures she had taken or collected and one I particularly treasure is of my grandfather in his English village cricket team.

My mother and her father were both born in Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire which was, incidentally, believed to have been the birthplace of the only English Pope, the 12th-century cleric Nicholas Breakspear.

In the picture, my grandfather looks to be in his early 20s which would date it to the years just before the First World War. In fact, he remained a cricket fan all his life and used to boast that he had once bowled out WG Grace, which is at least chronologically possible though Grace was very much past his best by that time.

In the early 1930s, after a career in printing and publishing in London, my grandfather moved to Edinburgh to work in the same industry, eventually running two large companies. He brought up his four children there and retired and died there too.

READ MORE: WATCH: Nicola Sturgeon 'deeply offended' by MSP's heckle during statement on racism

His wife, Jessie Adair, had Scottish roots. Her father had been born in Kilwinning, most probably of Irish parents although her mother’s family were from Docking in Norfolk where her grandfather had been a shepherd at the end of the 18th century, at the same time as my father’s great grandfather was working as an iron stone miner in Dreghorn near Irvine.

This rich mixture of places and people is what goes to make up most of us, I suspect. There will be a bit more Irish in some, and a dash of Welsh here and there. Others will have gravitated to Scotland from further afield for a range of reasons, including education, ambition, marriage, forced migration and the seeking of asylum.

The important thing, as the wonderful Bashir Ahmed, Scotland’s first Asian MSP, once said, is not where we have come from but where we are going together. That is exactly how Scotland – which the writer William McIlvanney proudly called a “mongrel nation” – should and usually does see itself. Origin is not destiny.

Those observations put in stark perspective some of the obscene nonsense mouthed by some very nasty people which we have heard in the last week.

The National: It was Donald Dewar who put forward the initial estimate of £35 million for the Scottish Parliament building

Donald Dewar (above), introducing me at a reception to the then Irish president Mary McAleese, described me sardonically as “a nationalist, and seriously so” (to which she replied “I suppose you could say the same about me!”). Consequently if the insulting and daft remark from the Tory MSP Tess White this week about the SNP being anti-English was even slightly true it would mean that I had been living a deeply dishonest and divided life for the past 47 years.

Moreover, I know many others in the SNP, or who support the party, in the same position. Indeed, in my own former constituency we have a number of English SNP members who must be even more conflicted.

In fact all Ms White – who is an educated and talented woman and should know much, much better – managed to do was to confirm that the Tories are now the really nasty party of Scottish politics.

A key part of that nastiness is the conscious attempt to spread a malign falsehood, namely that the SNP deliberately and maliciously discriminates against certain groups and beliefs.

READ MORE: We English-born Scots are sick of being used as Unionists' pawns

The context for all this lies in the Hate Crime Bill, which the Tories voted en bloc against in the last session of parliament even though changes had been made to it to ensure that it was balanced and protected private comment as they had demanded.

In fact, they went even further in the recent Scottish election campaign, pledging they would actually repeal parts of the bill if they were in a position to do so.

Fortunately they are not but the warning is there – the first and only priority for the Tories in Scotland is to damage the SNP and the cause of independence.

If that means undermining modern and effective protections that all civilised societies offer to their citizens so that no-one is discriminated against, victimised or damaged by active prejudice then so be it. Yet we have seen this week that such an approach is playing with fire because the poison of sectarianism still runs in the veins of some people in Scotland.

The National: Mounted police watch on as Rangers fans celebrate winning the Scottish Premiership in George Square

Three times already this year the city centre of Glasgow has been disrupted by so-called Rangers supporters whose offensive and threatening behaviour is directed at our friends and neighbours of Irish descent and at Catholics in general as well as at supporters of Scottish independence.

While appreciating that avoiding confrontation on the day so as not to make the situation worse is a legitimate police tactic, it is essential now for the sake of public order and the defence of ordinary citizens that policing in our largest city is well enough informed, resourced and organised to stop such activity starting and to break it up if it does start by means of prompt arrests.

There must also be a binding and enforceable presumption that any licensed demonstrations or marches, such as the large-scale Orange Order event planned for later in September, will take place without any actions, songs or words that are deliberately and insultingly directed against any other faith, belief, political conviction or background.

If the Hate Crime Bill is not enough in these circumstances then more will need to be done. Public events – all public events, no matter who organises them – must ensure basic standards that protect the rights of all citizens.

Something else is required, too. The Tories urgently need to change tack.

It isn’t fondness for football that makes some Tory MSPs tweet snide remarks supporting Rangers. They are attempting to ride the tiger of prejudice in the hope that it will undermine independence – but tigers are neither biddable nor discriminating.

There are Tories in the Scottish Parliament who know that. They need to make themselves heard but so far their protestations have been quieter, and much less effective, than Douglas Ross’s chickens.