NEARLY 1000 reposts, more than a thousand likes, 19k engagements, 162K impressions – that counts as a big success on my Twitter stream @thoughtland.

But with many tweets, you post in haste, and repent at leisure. And I’m really not sure about this one.

In the midst of this week’s UK Labour triumphalism, I found a clip of Emily Thornberry MP, shadow attorney general, on the Twitter feed of the young activist and lawyer Michael Gray.

In a gloomy lecture hall, Thornberry was being cued up to respond to a judgement on the SNP’s record in government.

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With her usual redoubtable demeanour, she stood up, sighed, and muttered “I hate the SNP. I hate the SNP…”, provoking a delighted uproar. “I think they’re Tories wrapped up in nationalist clothing.

I think they pretend to be on the left – and they’re not on the left!”

You know when tweet-gold glitters before you. I attached this quote and quickly posted: “Noted. Tone of this only goes public with what Labour leaders voice in private. Worth remembering when you hear the siren call for “progressive unity across the UK”. Try to imagine any SNP representative standing up in public and snarling “I hate Labour, I hate Labour.”

Social media duties to the cause done, I went back to my book research. But when I checked in later, I began to doubt my actions on a number of levels.

Firstly, this isn’t a current clip. Quite a few respondents let me know that it came from January 2020 and that she had afterwards fulsomely apologised in the House of Commons.

“I take a brief moment to apologise to colleagues on the SNP benches for the language I used in the heat of hustings last week,” Thornberry said.

“When we are debating the Middle East, it is a salutary reminder to me both that there is no place for hatred in our politics, and that on almost every foreign policy issue including this one, we have opposed the Tory government together and I’m sorry for what I said.” Nicola Sturgeon even invited her to that year’s SNP Burns supper.

I’d just had a week of listening to leading figures like Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy and others describe the Scottish Government as “regressive” and “terrible”, their mandates for an independence referendum to be ignored, their impact as bad as the new post-fascist Italian leader Meloni, so I fell on the clip like manna. But it was considerably out of context. Mea culpa.

Yet they don’t call Twitter a hell-site for nothing – sometimes channelling the best of us, but more often the worst.

Clutching my pearls at Thornberry’s H-bomb is a classic example of what the psychoanalysts call “projection”. That’s a psychological defence mechanism whereby unacceptable feelings and self-attributes within an individual are disavowed and attributed to someone else.

If I’m projecting, then she (and they) are the political haters, not I.

Well, that’s not true: I am. I don’t think I’ve ever really hated anyone in Labour politics, because I can’t ever feel completely disconnected from a political form, however crabbed and compromised its representatives, that has an ultimate connection to democratic socialism.

It’s why I’m always bugging the Scottish Labour youth to become seriously disruptive, and set up a “Labour for Independence” group within the party. I see the labour movement making a powerful, indeed vital contribution to the direction of an independent Scotland.

I’d rather some of them start preparing now, than be left adrift in a SNP-dominated nation-state.

But god, have I hated – hated – political Tories. The florid, well-padded and privately educated, sliding around in their Hogwarts fantasy castle, taking chunks out of public services and welfare payments while protecting corporate profits (windfall-based or not), and meanwhile making their own tidy pile.

The arrivistes and chancers, using their knowledge of commercial marketing to trigger and manipulate the more fearful and angry end of our evolved emotions: “taking back control”, “getting Brexit done”.

And it’s their body count that fuels the worst reaction.

Thousands committed suicide after being deemed “fit for work” in Iain Duncan Smith’s revision of disability qualifications in the 2010s. The negligence of Boris Johnson, in the early weeks of Covid, to take the epidemic seriously and lockdown instantly, cost (as Professor Neil Ferguson reported to the House of Commons science committee in Jan 2020) more than 20,000 lives.

BOTH of these are attributable to core Tory principles. The first holds that there is a decay in personal responsibility and self-discipline, which needs to be punitively revived.

The second holds that the state should refrain from being too involved in people’s lives – even when public safety is a priority.

There’s been a lot of interesting commentary, in the light of the Tory poll collapse induced by Truss and Kwarteng, on what it reveals about Tory success. The party was historically formed in the interests of capitalists and aristocrats.

But over the years, it has been skilful enough to distribute resources (the NHS as untouchable, Keynesian economics) and orchestrate sentiment (the Queen’s death a supreme example), to establish their wider legitimacy.

In this analysis, the polling reaction to the brutal unfairness and tax-slashing crudity of the Truss/Kwarteng project shows something significant: there is currently no popular appetite for a truly chaos-making, libertarian style free-marketism on these islands.

In a world of polycrises, UK Labour and the SNP look like being beneficiaries of a thirst to return to societal balance, a secure equilibrium.

It almost feels biological, a deep craving for homeostasis, rather than just political. Sturgeon’s and Starmer’s joint image as dull, pedantic but caring pragmatists – reliable mother, reliable father – looks like it’ll win them the long race.

SO if they’re about to swept away by history, because they are bereft of solutions to our escalating problems, perhaps I should stand down my Tory loathing? Yes, in any case. It’s probably better for my mental health. But it might also sensitise me to wider and deeper trends.

I’ve always had a sincere question to put to Conservatives, particularly post-Thatcher: why are you so opposed to conserving and conservation?

Ripping up old socio-economic models, which obliterate strong communities. Unleashing credit and consumer desire, which unravels the continuities of people’s lives. Fracking local villages to bits seems the opposite of conservatism.

The late right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton was rehabilitated in recent years because he made exactly this point.

For Scruton, an eco-conservatism was more logical and coherent than a radical conservatism.

Where did I hear Roger Scruton quoted positively this week?

By Giorgia Meloni, the new Italian prime minister and leader of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party. Another 2019 clip from Meloni doing the rounds contained these quotes: “When I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators. The perfect consumer.

“That’s why we inspire so much fear. That’s why this event inspires so much fear. Because we do not want to be numbers. We will defend the value of the human being.

“Every single human being. Because each of us has a unique genetic code that is unrepeatable. And, like it or not, that is sacred.

We will defend it. We will defend God, country and family.”

Sulphurous, incantatory stuff. But worth attending to.

Italy has always been a political harbinger – Berlusconi before Trump, Five-Star before UKIP.

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Even if we may be looking at Tory obliteration in the UK, they may have baked in enough damage that the next party (or parties) may simply be unable to remedy it.

So might Meloni’s brand of defensive purism (some would say soft fascism) become the next version of Toryism? Conserving conditions, and defending localities, for “true Italians” – or, in our case, “true Brits”?

Of course, one way to dial down your loathing of Westminster Tories is to permanently remove them from your purview, by establishing an independent Scottish state.

Nevertheless, the political right are too fluid, too well-resourced and too skilful. Being blinded by hate is the wrong mindset to deal with them.

So I hereby renounce the h-word – the better to engage my opponents.

Pat Kane can be followed on Twitter using the @thoughtland handle.