COLONIALISTS abuse and belittle those they regard as inferior and decry all their achievements. By so doing they hang onto not just power, but also a sense of what they regard as their rightful– and inevitable – superiority.

Churchill once described Gandhi as a “malignant subversive fanatic” and talked of him as “a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir ... striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace”, but that language was not unique.

British colonial history is full of such insults, accompanied by disdain for the ability and actions of what Kipling called “the lesser breeds without the law” in a poem that lauds Britain’s “dominion over palm and pine”.

This contempt is accompanied by disparagement of the performance of the colony even in the limited governance it has been permitted, as Britain did repeatedly in Africa and Asia.

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These false arguments are, of course, intended to justify the view that independence is, and always will be, a ridiculously damaging delusion.

In 1959, for example, The Times sneeringly said of Malta that the island “cannot live on her own ... the economy would collapse without British Treasury subventions. Talk of full independence for Malta is therefore hopelessly impractical.”

It wasn’t. In fact, Malta was independent six years later and today it runs a budget surplus and flourishes as a full member of the EU whilst we decline outside.

Virtually every former colony from America onwards was told that it couldn’t afford to make its way in the world and that, in any case, it was too incompetent to do so. Some may not have been too wee, but they were all too poor and too stupid.

Yet strangely, none of those former colonies has ever asked to come back under the colonialists’ wing ...

At the same time, British colonial policy is bewilderingly full of rapid swings between concession and coercion, as successive governments unwittingly illustrate a remark by the philosopher George Santayana that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Such swings are motivated by both self-interest and fearful insecurity, particularly when faced with the inevitability of failure.

In that regard, Parnell was not only giving an opinion when he said in Cork in January, 1885 that “no man has a right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation,” he was also stating a fact: progress towards independence cannot be undone by either blandishments or brutality.

Over the years, even some independence-minded Scots have rejected direct comparisons with colonialism.

They believed that not only is our history different but that the inequalities in our state have been caused as much by internal as external factors. We were also aware that Scotland participated in colonialism – though I hope we have now woken up (I use the word deliberately) to the implications of that involvement.

However, events since the 2014 referendum – a watershed moment – have made it increasingly obvious that an ever more right-wing Tory Government is using the old colonial playbook against Scotland. This Tory leadership contest has proved it, demonstrating that we are moving from an era of concession into one of coercion.

The good news is, however, that whilst devolution was the fruit of the first, independence will be the result of the second.

Hard-line anti-Scottish rhetoric is proving popular with the Conservative faithful. Not only was there enthusiastic applause when Liz Truss declared she would ignore Scotland’s duly elected First Minister, there were even shouts of “build a wall”.

Moreover, her pledge to impose Tory policies no matter what Scotland votes for threatens not just the current constitutional settlement but the 300-year-old guarantees written into the Act of Union. The Tory message is that Scotland will be coerced out of support for independence, concessions having failed.

In fact, we have already seen the first concrete signs. The Tory desire to limit judicial review being pushed through Westminster should, north of the Border, be a matter entirely for the Scottish Parliament. Now we must expect more such impositions in areas that are completely (or largely) devolved, such as education and the health service.

Sunak is playing his part in ramping up the pressure.

Only a very insecure state would seek to “re-educate” (a sinister word) those who criticise it.

But that is what he is proposing, along with the junking of the European Convention on Human Rights, which would, of course, protect free speech of just that sort.

Meanwhile, both of them have bad-mouthed and lied about everything the Scottish Government has done, perhaps also because most of it is much better than anything their own party in Government has achieved.

More of this will follow. The sneaky subtlety of Michael Gove’s approach – constant re-assurance of co-operation accompanied by the steady erosion of the powers of our Parliament – will give way to the insulting “suck it up” arrogance already in evidence from the current Secretary of State against Scotland, Alister Jack, who may well be retained in that role by Truss if she wins.

It will be hard to take, but it won’t work.

All the historical evidence is that such tactics are, in the end, completely counterproductive.

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As a result, I don’t think I have ever been more confident that independence is very close.

To make it finally happen, we need to learn some colonial lessons too.

We must keep the heid, value and support our democracy, govern well and campaign with vigour.

We must stand firm against any attempt to diminish us and our Parliament, observe the highest standards of conduct in everything we do and tell the truth at all times.

In that way, we can persuade many more Scottish voters, inspiring them with a positive message of change that looks to the normality of being an independent state within the EU rather than the abnormality of being one of the last colonies of a floundering, failed empire.