SO there you have it my fellow Scots. Once again the UK Government telling us to get back in the box and don’t dare think about rising above our station.

I’m talking about the latest furore surrounding the Scottish Government’s efforts to serve our nation’s interests abroad.

Or to put it in the parlance of the more lurid among the Unionist press, the need for a “crackdown” on the likes of “Air miles” Angus Robertson and other SNP MSPs determined to “promote breaking up the UK overseas.”

I don’t know about you, but the last time I looked, this Tory government were doing a pretty good job all by themselves of making a mockery of the UK abroad and failing miserably in efforts to deliver their much-vaunted “Global Britain” status.

Much of the recent hullabaloo in holding the likes of Robertson – Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs – to account originates with one man.

Lord Offord of Garvel, or Malcolm Ian Offord as I prefer to call him, is a Scottish businessman who once penned a series of essays entitled The United Kingdom: Why Scotland Should Remain.

READ MORE: Scotland's global activities are actively silenced by UK Government

But last month, Offord – who was introduced into the House of Lords in October 2021 after failing to win a regional seat during the Holyrood elections of that year – threw his rattle out of the cot insisting that Holyrood SNP politicians on overseas trips were getting too uppity by straying into areas outside of their devolved powers.

This it would appear in turn led to suggestions that British diplomats should keep a beady eye on SNP MSPs abroad and any perceived nefarious attempts to promote Scottish interests at the expense of good old Britannia.

Since then, there has been no end of outrage from within Tory and Unionist ranks with the usual sharp reminder that foreign affairs is a reserved issue and the Scottish Government on overseas visits should not encroach into matters such as separatism or the constitution.

Some like former Labour politician Tom Harris writing in the Daily Telegraph – no surprises there – were blunter, saying that the “SNP should pay for their own propaganda.”

It seems to have slipped Harris’s mind that for years many Scots – despite no desire to do so – have forked out in taxes while the UK Government promulgates propaganda that includes Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s recent mythical promotion of Britain being “widely respected around the world”.

The National:

There is a pattern here to this serial condemnation by Unionists of SNP MSPs or MPs whenever they make overseas trips.

It’s a pattern based on a fear that the Scottish Government is pushing at an open door in winning friends and allies abroad and that by its very nature enhances our case for self-determination.

Unionists have always been of the mindset that Scotland should not or never will be in the position to play its part in global affairs alongside other nations.

If my memory serves me correctly, back in 2020 there was an overwhelming vote in favour of a resolution entitled Scotland In The World, at the SNP conference. A vote that underpinned a strong commitment to progressive values on the world stage.

There are those of course who will argue that such a resolution is simply gesture politics, irrelevant without independence.

But as I have consistently argued in this column, far from such things being wasted time and energy, the mapping out of Scotland’s political direction of travel on global affairs helps strengthen the case for independence.

This is precisely why Unionists and the UK Government fear such activity overseas even when it doesn’t cross the line of foreign affairs being a reserved issue.

The National: Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has held talks with Alister Jack where they reportedly shared concerns about overseas trips by representatives of the Scottish GovernmentForeign Secretary James Cleverly has held talks with Alister Jack where they reportedly shared concerns about overseas trips by representatives of the Scottish Government (Image: PA)

Yes, foreign affairs and defence are reserved for now, but they won’t be in an independent Scotland. Even the most myopic of Unionists must recognise that. Do they really expect Scotland to wake up after independence, look around and only then consider our place on the global stage?

Meanwhile, nothing could be more short-sighted from a Scottish Government perspective than to sit around waiting until after independence before harnessing the incredible wealth of talent we already have here in Scotland and overseas that could help undertake some of the heavy lifting that would help shape our take on the world post-independence.

Out there in the world sits a far-flung and often influential Scottish diaspora especially within the business community – why wait to tap into its potential?

Robertson is right when he accuses London ministers of having “a transparent and narrow-minded political agenda” to try to thwart Scottish ambitions.

As for the criticism of Robertson based on reports that he discussed independence with Katrin Jakobsdottir, the Icelandic prime minister last autumn, so what?

Are we really to believe that when Scottish ministers are abroad on such trips, national leaders will not ask about self-determination ambitions or the same ministers under the watchful eye of a UK diplomatic minder should toe the line and not reply to such questions?

Back in 2021, in his book Nation To Nation: Scotland’s Place in the World, former SNP MP Stephen Gethins outlined the many ways in which Scotland can play a role in the world.

Be it climate change issues and a fair migration policy to human rights and conflict-resolutions roles, there is so much for Scotland to engage with that would enhance our global standing and our arguments for independence.

READ MORE: Angus Robertson: UK Government is 'actively undermining' Scotland overseas

These past years as a result of some solid work on the issue of Scotland’s place in the world our friends and neighbours around the globe have been waking up to Scotland’s call for independence.

From the growing number of “International Offices” the Scottish Government has across the world to non-partisan institutions like the recently formed Scottish Council on Global Affairs, a lot of people have been doing a lot of legwork on international affairs.

There are those who will dismiss this and say that equal focus should be placed here at home.

They are right, but this is to miss the point and only add to the potshots being taken by Unionists at one of the few success stories in furthering the case for independence.

The Scottish Government needs to stand firm on its commitment to furthering Scotland’s interests abroad.

It also needs to tell Cleverly, Offord and their ilk that any attempted “crackdown” or so-called “clipping of the wings” of senior Scottish officials overseas is simply not on.