WE must protect “Western values” parrot the commentators as bad lad Vlad goes about breaking every rule in the book. Look at this horror show in 2022, they intone; see how fragile a flower democracy has proved to be.

They’re not wrong. Yet some of the ­administrations lining up to vent their righteous indignation on the man with the blackest hat in the Kremlin might pause to consider their own fingerhold on the moral high ground is a wee thing shaky.

You don’t have to be in the illegal ­invasion business to go about wrecking ­democracy. And you might be hard pressed to define just how precious alleged Western values are these days.

We might ponder the state of democracy from hill to shining hill in the United States just at the moment.

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It was alarming enough that hard-of-thinking thugs were emboldened by a ­rabble rousing ex-president to lay waste to the ­inner sanctum of the American ­democratic process. Bad enough to watch in real time, legislators cowering from a baying mob intent on disrupting the final hours of the electoral process.

Yet, how much worse a year on, to find senior members of an allegedly ­“mainstream” political party content to reprise the dangerous fiction that this was little more than a tourist outing.

I recall when Republicans, whilst ­endorsing a programme well right of ­centre, were men and women who had ­little ­difficulty in calling out a riot for what it was. People who could never envisage their party being captured by a shedload of ­conspiracy theorists in thrawl or beholden to a lying crook.

The present day “western values” in America find the citizenry wandering around with battle grade weaponry with the predictable result that every few weeks some of their fellow Americans are massacred by the more unhinged possessor of an automatic gun. All attempts to control this carnage are routinely dismissed as loony liberalism.

Ditto their health care system, where Obama’s plan to extend ­insurance to those without, was evidently too ­“socialist” a brew for those Americans who see no problem in illness bankrupting hard working families, whilst the super wealthy get tax breaks.

Their Supreme Court, supposedly the fount of all judicial wisdom, has an ­inbuilt conservative bias which will allow, inter alia, the hard won rights of women to control their fertility to be ­incinerated on the altar of “Christian values”. While the running sore of racism continues to ­offer alibis for discrimination and ­random ­executions by those charged with ­preserving law and order.

Today’s America, a country of which I have many fond memories over ­decades of visits, is almost unrecognisable as a ­beacon of democracy, as a rogue former ­resident of the White House nurses his wrath to keep it warm; the ring on his podgy finger kissed by a succession of ­Republican would-be successors in his Floridian fastness.

And what of the UK? Our police force may not routinely beat up demonstrators and throw them in jail, as is happening daily in Russia, but we are in the midst of passing laws which would make the democratic right of protest illegal.

The Metropolitan police force, the ­largest in the nations and regions, has been found to harbour rapists, ­racists, a murderer and misogyny. Clearly ­something is dangerously amiss with the selection process.

Meanwhile the mother of parliaments narrowly avoided being closed down on Prime Ministerial whim in order to avoid an embarrassing vote. Only the efforts of legal challengers and a Supreme Court led by a doughty incorruptible stopped Boris Johnson from making parliament an ­impotent bystander to his ambitions.

How precisely can we trumpet ­Western values when we have a home ­secretary prepared to watch asylum seekers drown rather than give them the refuge to which they have legal entitlement? A home ­secretary who, when forced to admit those fleeing war, terror and poverty, houses them in derelict barracks or Covid ridden “hotels”.

She talks about those “jumping the queue”, having effectively closed off any legal route to migration. She belongs to a party so obsessed about inward ­migration that it pursued the dangerous folly of Brexit ensuring, among sundry other ­disasters, that the health service and food production industries would be deprived of the foreign-born labour on which they were dependent.

Add to that the exit of so many highly skilled Europeans in other areas who voted with their feet, post Brexit, rightly assuming this was not a government in whom they could place their trust for ­basic rights and protections.

One of the many reasons I yearn for an independent Scotland is so that we may make good our long standing belief that new Scots make our wee country stronger and more vibrant.

It’s not my belief that the UK lacks ­people of vision, talent and integrity. It’s just that none of these qualities are ­evident in the current Prime Minister’s cabinet. It was a squirming embarrassment to watch “Lord” Frost lecturing European leaders during his tenure as Mr Brexit, just as it is terminally excruciating to view Liz Truss parading the world as Foreign Secretary.

There have been heavyweight ­foreign secretaries from all the major parties in my lifetime; people of substance who, whilst not always making sound ­decisions, could be assured of the respect of their opponents at home and abroad.

To call Liz Truss a lightweight rather overstates her intellectual capacities. And don’t get me started on Nadine Dorries, Johnson’s favourite glove puppet. I owe him everything, she trilled last week. Too right ducks.

It was last week too that we learned the extent of paid lobbyists and their influence on the inner circles of UK ­Government. As the pandemic contracts so vividly illustrated, with this administration it’s very much not what you know, but who you know.

Or, more usually, whom you can bribe to gain access. Allied to the raft of Tory ­donors warming their backsides on the red benches of the Lords, it’s not ­overstating the case to suggest that this government is not so much full of Western values as casual corruption.

Corruption is a dangerous virus, which can spread unchecked wherever there is greed; wherever there is a sense of entitlement. Witness the quite ludicrous sight of Johnson lecturing the populace about the need to assume personal responsibility in mid pandemic. Here is a man who has not accepted responsibility for his own behaviour for half a century. A prime minister being investigated under caution for breaking his own rules.

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A fish rots from the head, they say, and down through the governmental ranks we can observe ministers who might once have enjoyed a reputation for personal probity, corrupted by the practices and lazy disregard for honesty they witness all around them.

Thus do we find Johnson’s colleagues all over the airwaves arguing black to be white to protect he from whom all ­personal favours fall. And, not ­infrequently finding their mendacity to have been in vain, as the kite flown by Number 10 is hastily reined back in ­having witnessed likely public opposition to their latest wheeze.

So yes, let’s by all means call out ­former KGB operative Vladimir Putin for the ­undoubted villain he is. But let’s not pretend that all the Western leaders who paid him the compliment of calling Moscow to plead the cause of peace, ­represent some gold standard of democratic practice.

Seventy years of peace in Europe is ­certainly a cause for celebration. It’s also a reminder that when you indulge a tyrant all bets are off. And perhaps a reminder too that Western values were not meant to be about trying to crush popular ­dissent, or throwing unnecessary ­roadblocks like ID in the path of the election ­process in the UK or naked ­gerrymandering in America.