AS we relish Eilish McColgan’s sensational gold medal victory at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, it is worth reflecting on the Commonwealth itself, and the way that successive colonies, protectorates, and provincial governments have taken the bold step of announcing their independence.

History suggests that demeaning small nations has never worked out well for the supercilious, a message that seems not to have reached Liz Truss’s inbox.

The seemingly endless indulgence of the Tory leadership contest rumbles on, and the glaringly unimpressive Liz Truss has ­deepened the distrust of Scots, by trampling on any notion that we live in a voluntary political union by suggesting she should simply “ignore” Nicola Sturgeon.

Brilliantly skewered on the internet as “the evil of two lessers”, Truss offered her response to a Section 30 order, in a ­graceless refusal to discuss the matter.

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To ensure her response was ­understood by the hard of thinking she went on to make the added observation that she found the Scottish First Minister to be an “attention seeker”. It was an ­astonishing display of intolerance fitted to the ­belligerent, and highly-strung and ­emotionalism of the Tory right. In her brief trip to Wales, Truss also added the misrepresentation that the SNP were spending their “entire resources” on ­seeking independence.

These remarks simultaneously ­expose one of Truss’s growing catalogue of ­weaknesses, a tendency to play to the ­gallery exposing her to be wholly ­unsuited to the more complex diplomatic duties of the head of government.

But lest we forget, Rishi Sunak and Truss are not appealing to an electorate, and feel no obligation to pander to either the north or the smaller nations. They are seeking to gain the support of the 175,000-strong Tory membership, who alone will decide the next prime ­minister. That fact tells a staggering story of how far British democracy has swerved off the road. A senior politician can ­patronise and threaten to ignore an entire ­nation, to court the votes of a small elite of ­members.

Sometimes, when a politician is looking for a laugh or a round of applause from party loyalists, their real attitudes and opinions leak out. Boris Johnson craved the approval of laughter, Liz Truss the warm and confirmatory applause of a ­reactionary faction within her party. They both want approval not from the ­union of nations they deem “precious” but from the cardiganed committee of a golf club near Cirencester.

The next stop on the anti-Scottish ­bandwagon happens ironically to be in Perth, whose once solid Tory vote has evaporated like an overturned glass of stale port.

To show how far the Tories have fallen in Scotland it is worth remembering that in the 1960’s the constituency of Kinross and West Perthshire was the seat of the Tory leader and sometime Prime Minister Alex Douglas-Home.

Despite the constellation of bools in his stagnant mooth, Alex Douglas-Home was a throwback to the gentleman ­Tories of history and was once brilliantly ­described by Harold Wilson as “an ­elegant ­anachronism.”

Now the elegance and the gentlemanly demeanour has been thrown out like an old pair of silk socks. I cannot believe that as the leadership roadshow cranks on that I found myself yearning for the return of the gentleman Tory. Much as I grew up despising their “tied-cottage” control over much of my native Perthshire, they had least had a sinew of decency to be polite to their opponents Now they have been silenced or ­confined to the scrapheap in a party populated by spivs, racists, and hardened ideological bigots.

The reaction to Truss’s remarks about Nicola Sturgeon – including the puerile “Build a Wall” response – reasserts how much the lumpen wing of Tory bigots ­enjoy influence and how they can easily be aroused by Trumpian overstatement.

We know from both history and the ­reactions to the hand-picked crowd inside the hustings that the Tory right despise Scotland. They are so internally confused about their status that they can’t quite work out whether Scotland is crucial to the Union or deserves to be cut adrift, or whether we are to be opposed, despised, or walled in.

Since 2012, we have been ­confronted with a string of different forms of ­opposition, Project Fear, which ­exaggerated the apocalypse that awaited Scotland is it pursued independence, to the current legal stalemate which seeks to outlaw another referendum but in recent months we have seen another mood swing among the opponents of ­independence, a mindset that seeks to ­demean Scotland.

One of the easiest ways to monitor how degrading the debate has become is to ­follow the online growth of the neologism – pretendy.

The word first entered the popular ­lexicon of constitutional politics when Billy Connolly dismissed the ­Scottish ­parliament and its powers. It was ­subsequently picked up as a term of insult by those that wanted to restrict further devolution or in some cases shut down the Scottish parliament entirely. It took on a more full-on patronising tone in 1997 during – guess what – an exchange about the privatisation of health, when Michael Forsyth told the house: “Here we have a structure that has been successful in ­delivering jobs, but both those ­Opposition parties plan to wreck it in order to find the money to pay the £80 billion for their ‘pretendy parliament’ – as I believe Billy Connolly called it – in Edinburgh.”

The last laugh was on Forsyth, within two months he was humiliated at the polls as the Tories were swept from power in the Tony Blair landslide of that year.

ALTHOUGH the word is used daily within social media its full complexity needs to be better understood.

Pretendy is not a real word, but it does have real consequences. The nature of its use exposes three ­separate things about Unionist opposition to Scottish self-governance. Firstly, it is a childlike word which even in Connolly’s earliest expression contained a sense of immaturity, “the two wee and too ­stupid”, mantra that raised its head in the first independence referendum.

A second meaning is the idea of ­falseness, that there is something fake and inauthentic about Scottish politics, that it is just a game to be played out with no real significance.

The third element, and the one that Liz Truss exposed in her Exeter hustings, was a tone of condescension, that Scotland could be talked down to and dismissed.

The term has another regular outlet, belittling the Scots language community and describing Scots as a “pretendy” ­language. No amount of philological ­explanation or serious academic research will convince the critics of the veracity of the Scots language and rather than ­debate the issue with seriousness of intent, it ­resorts to crude insults and demeaning stereotypes.

When I see the word “pretendy” online I am reminded of the infamous Godwin’s Law promulgated by the American ­lawyer Mike Godwin who argues that within ­internet debates, when a thread become divisive, it is inevitable that someone will invoke Hitler. At that point they have lost the debate and either administrators or site monitors should close the thread.

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I would like to see a similar law ­introduced to Scottish political ­Twitter that anyone who uses the word ­­“pretendy” has already lost the ­argument either through an act of ­condescension or ­shallow disrespect for Scottish ­institutions.

With no Section 30 order, a Supreme Court ruling to come and the prospect of a de facto referendum at the next general election, banal Unionists have already ­begun to use the hashtag term ­“pretendyref”. Rather than ­discuss the merits and demerits of Scottish ­independence, some would rather sneer at the constitutional resorts that Scotland has been left to contend with.

Liz Truss may yet win this contest and become prime minister but for many in Scotland, she has already lost.

Demeaning small nations never ends well for the supercilious. If she is so ­convinced of her rhetoric let the ­pretendyref happen, then we will see.