AT the heart of Scottish Unionism lies a curious dissonance. In the absence of anything resembling a coherent economic policy, prominent Unionists feel compelled to declare that any statement in support of independence is proof of neglecting the day-to-day governance of Scotland. With this comes the implication that the interests of Scotland are close to their heart.

This might be a reasonable means of attack were it not for a mountain of evidence gathered over the past decade or so that Unionist politicians in Scotland seem to delight in disparaging the land that provided them with the opportunity to make something of themselves.

We witnessed this in full spate as the 2014 referendum campaign gathered pace. From the outset, the Better Together campaign came to resemble a mis-shapen alliance of malcontents dredged from the scarecrow wing of the Tories and their Scottish Labour footstools.

As it became clear to Scots who hadn’t previously considered their nation’s constitutional future that the Unionist side was little more than an inchoate amalgam of Union Jack fetishists, the No side began to ship percentage points at a remarkable rate.

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Only in the fiction factories of high Toryism and what currently passes for the Labour Party is the loss of 18 points in the course of a year considered a triumph.

Ruth Davidson, Jim Murphy, Blair McDougall and Alistair Darling like to boast that they saved the Union. Another way of looking at it is that the Union was shuffling along well enough from the perspective of its adherents until these ineloquent chancers began to peddle their myths and fables.

Rather than save the Union, they actually helped imperil it to an extent not seen since the ’45 rebellion. The dishonest nature of their campaign helped lay the foundations for a decade of SNP dominance in Scotland. The abject performance of Murphy, Darling and several other Labour grandees during the referendum campaign also effectively destroyed the party in Scotland.

And for what: seats in the House of Lords and the touch of ermine and invitations into the boardrooms of finance houses specialising in protecting the wealth of the world’s super-rich. Some legacy.

Many previously undecided Scots gradually gravitated towards independence during that campaign. This wasn’t because they’d been persuaded by the quality of the independence offering; they simply became sick of their fellow Scots’ persistent belittling of their own country. They’d never been especially passionate about Scotland determining its own future; they were simply passionate about Scotland full stop.

And they became resentful of Darling and assorted other of Labour’s ennobled Poundland aristocrats portraying Scotland to the world as a backward nation of cultural savages. Some of these people had been active in getting their Labour lordships into high office. The sense of disgust at their rhetoric simmers to this day and those people are now among the most passionate supporters of the SNP and Scottish independence.

Of course, the most persistent and wretched fiction touted by Darling and Davidson in particular was that this simple exercise in democracy was essentially nasty, divisive and bitter, when they knew it was nothing of the sort. It suggested to the watching world that Scots were simply not sufficiently civilised to hold a referendum on their nation’s future.

Aggressive stickers, belligerent heckling, an airborne egg (or was it two) at the Shawlands Arcade and Ruth Davidson’s fictional “burly men” of the Borders were all deployed to cast the country they purported to love (and its citizens) in the worst possible light.

If you want to look for reasons why the Labour Party in Scotland has been in a tailspin, the most prevalent is that in the eight years that have elapsed since the referendum these tactics still inform everything they do.

THEIR toytown lordships Baron Darling of Roulanish, Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen and Baron Foulkes of Cumnock have all taken turns at conveying the impression of Scotland as a nation of cave dwellers as they savour discounted foie gras from the House of Lords dining room.

Baron Robertson – a man who has contributed the square root of bugger all to the task of improving the lives of his fellow Scots – went as far as peddling this myth during a speech in New York where he helpfully told delegates that an independent Scotland would be “welcomed by the forces of darkness” and that it would jeopardise the security of the western world.

Last year, Baron McConnell, a Labour Party mechanic who somehow got to lead the country (and has dined out on it ever since), declared in an interview that “Scotland is worse than it’s ever been” without providing any historic evidence for such a startling claim.

His Labour brother in the fur coat brigade, Lord Darling, spent the entire referendum campaign claiming that Scotland was simply too wee and too poor to operate on its own. It was a claim ridiculed by his Tory patron during that campaign, David Cameron, who was honest enough to acknowledge that Scotland was more than capable of being successful as an independent nation.

Baron Foulkes of Cumnock (a title as ridiculous as Brother Rees-Mogg of the Cotswold Collective) is a persistent and incoherent troll of anything that reeks of wretched Scottishness. His diatribe this week in the wake of Billy Kay’s fine and moving speech at Holyrood made you wonder again how Labour were able to win elections when this low-grade, party hack can reach its higher offices.

The baron’s problem with Kay was that he chose to deliver his speech in Scots. And this was a problem for His Lordship because, without providing any linguistic or scholarly evidence, he doesn’t think Scots is an actual language.

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In matters such as these, where I can’t claim to possess any specialist knowledge, I tend (like most people) to be informed by expert opinion. And in the debate over Scots, there is plenty of it to accord it “language” status. Yet, even in the absence of such, you’re left to wonder why a Labour noble (another who has contributed nothing of note to the nation’s wellbeing) became so exercised by this.

Billy Kay’s speech was a lyrical and non-partisan delight delivered in the rich cadences of Scots.

He is one of this nation’s finest writers and academics and has a global reputation as a linguistic scholar.

There are valid reasons why some Scots sincerely prefer to remain in the Union and mature nationalists will always respect them. Unfortunately for them, their arguments are undermined by the foolish, self-important rhetoric of Lord Foulkes and his fellow Labour barons.