IT would be all too easy to dismiss Baron Foulkes of Cumnock as little more than a clown. Though that might be thought unkind to all those folk employed by the circus.

However, it would be fair to say that his “elevation” to the ­upper chamber at Westminster did not add much in the way of intellectual rigour to that bloated and increasingly rag tag and ­bobtailed army.

Then again we might glance at last week’s recruitment to the Lords of Charlotte Owen which suggests that a superfluity of brain power is not an essential calling card.

If your main claim to fame is having been an “adviser” to a shambolic Prime ­Minister when you were twenty something, ­popping on the ermine at 30 somewhat argues against the House of Peers being a ­repository of the wisdom born of admirable personal experience.

Meanwhile the Lord Foulkes should ­perhaps be regarded as nothing so much as a serial irritant. A sort of pimple on the ­backside of the body politic. One with a somewhat shaky grasp of history, ­particularly in regard to the notorious 1707 Act of Union.

We may now view that “union” as more of a hostile takeover, opposed and reviled by the majority of Scots and only passed thanks to the acquiescence of a parcel of well compensated aristocratic rogues.

According to our George it was never meant to be a union of equals. A proper partnership. Well, he got that one right.

Yet even the Scotland Act, much ­quoted by the red Baron, had the built in ­Sewel convention which clearly stated that ­Westminster should keep its sticky ­fingers off any legislative area devolved to Holyrood­.

That convention was supposed to have become legally embedded following the Smith Commission, but, like so much else, fell of the back of the lorry en route to the statute book.

To see how far that ambition has ­fallen, look no further than the outrageous ­suggestion – again from the Lords – that the Westminster government should be able to overrule any Holyrood ­decision on ­environmental matters. Look no ­further than the consul general, Alister Jack ­attempting to shut down any work on ­independence.

All of a piece with the Internal Market Act, designed to ensure that Scotland ­loses any and every opportunity to diverge from Westminster policies.

It may seem churlish to say so in the same week that we saw a new paper on proposed Scottish citizenship published, but I sometimes worry that we get so caught up in future planning that we’re not paying attention to the determined ­attempt to strip us of what shilpit powers we currently enjoy.

This is not remotely to argue that the Scottish Government should not be ­engaging in diligent research about ­independence, or, indeed, making ­common cause with those people and agencies who have already put in some hard yards on that front.

Neither is it to suggest that the civil ­service in Scotland should not do the usual task of working on the government of the day’s agenda. What’s wrong with the civil service working for an independence minister, is that they should not still be taking their orders from London or run by it. A Scottish civil service should be just that.

Plus the idea that a party founded to achieve independence should ditch that ambition is just so much self-serving mince from the opposition and they know it.

What we might be asking ourselves ­instead is why the country should require a Secretary of State for Scotland when it has its own parliament and its own ­departmental secretaries of state.

And if we’re talking about ­squandering money on inessentials we might start with the two ludicrously expensive hubs built in Edinburgh and Glasgow which must surely be the most expensively ­constructed Trojan horses in captivity.

Then again we never do seem to talk about money thrown at preserving the “precious Union”.

It’s all part of an overarching agenda to curtail Holyrood and all its works. As is the constant by-passing of Holyrood’s ­finance team when chucking bribes at ­local ­councils. As is the pathetic ­insistence that FCO ministers should be present any time one of our own is meeting with ­colleagues in other countries.

As is the constant refrain that ­Westminster would just LOVE to ­collaborate with team Scotland if only the latter would talk to them. When the brutal truth is that any time a ­Scottish minister tries to engage in meaningful conversation it finds the door firmly shut, and is advised that the matter in hand is out of bounds for a mere devolved ­administration.

We know their game, and it’s time they were called out on it. Time we took a very hard look at the myriad ways which ­Westminster and its serial units have ­devised to trying to keep the Union intact.

It’s really no more than a strategy to keep the Scottish Government hodden doon and locked in its box.

The sad truth is that so many people engaged on this exercise are technically Scottish themselves, even if they’ve long since departed the land of their birth to seek infamy and fortune elsewhere.

It was Walter Scott who said: “Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!”

Sadly there is no shortage of dead souls intent on ensuring that their motherland is never permitted to have ideas above the station they’ve decided best suits it. A puir, wee shilpit nation which happens to have much envied wealth in the energy department of which it must continue to be relieved.

Some of these dead and dreary souls like Michael Gove are both articulate and sleekit which makes them moving and ­difficult targets, not least when they keep getting shuffled around the UK cabinet’s chess game.

Some, like Alister Jack, have found a lucrative role as the anglicised spy in the camp; not so much representing Scottish interests, as doing his masters’ business for them in bringing the jocks to heel.

And some, like poor George, have long since mislaid the plot but do sterling service as the useful idiot of the piece. Though here the term useful may be ­doing too much heavy lifting.

SO we must beware of faux Scots ­bearing dodgy gifts. We must stay alert to the constant chipping away at the very fabric of a parliament which took decades to make a reality.

It’s not about ­averting our eyes from the main prize, so much as not losing sight of the constant ­campaign to belittle and emasculate our own ­legislature; recognising that while it ­badly needs more and expanded powers, it would be a comprehensive dereliction of duty to have it lose those restricted ­muscles with which it was born.

So I welcome the thought floated by the First Minister that the latest ­initiative to ameliorate Westminster’s malign ­follies might be to adjust the taxation of the wealthy to help those families ­impoverished by the two child cap.

This would do two clear things: it would shut those up who constantly whine about Holyrood not utilising fully those levers it is able to pull, and it would shoot a ­shameful Labour fox now that they’ve decided to toe the Tory line on this outrage.

A constant refrain you hear on the airwaves is that people don’t know what Keir Starmer is actually for. Now we can no longer be sure what he’s against.

I note that he’s trundling up here again with Labour’s national ­executive ­committee in tow this September, ­presumably to show how much he really, really loves us.

That will surely take more than a ­roadshow; more than a gathering of still mainly men in matching red ties.