THE double standards of British nationalists are becoming increasingly blatant. They no longer even pay lip service to the idea that there should be a level playing field for all sides in Scotland's constitutional debate.

Not content with having the backing of the great majority of the Scottish media, the parties opposed to independence now seek to ensure that they will be the only ones who can count on support and briefing papers at a government level.

It is just a couple of weeks since the head of the civil service Simon Case said that it was a "bit worrying" that the Scottish Government spends public money on developing the case for independence – and it was reported that the British government was investigating Scottish Government spending on a Minister for Independence.

Now it is being reported that the British government is seeking to hire two policy advisers who will be dedicated to help making the "benefits of the Union clear, tangible and understood”.

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak backs probe into Scottish Government independence spending

The posts, each of which comes with an annual salary of around £40,000, are being advertised by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which is headed by Michael Gove (below).

It's perfectly acceptable for the British government to use public money in order to further a political stance which it believes in, but rank hypocrisy of the worst kind for it to do so as it seeks to prevent its opponents from mobilising equivalent resources to develop the opposing argument.

This is made even worse when we consider the heavily skewed nature of the media in terms of the Scottish constitutional debate.

The National: Michael Gove's department is advertising for advisors to promote the benefits of the Union

If the Conservative Government succeeds in prohibiting the Scottish Government from developing and articulating a case for Scottish independence – even though this is precisely what it was elected to do – while at the same time continuing to pump ever greater amounts of public cash into the creation of anti-independence propaganda, then the UK will take one step further towards becoming a failed democracy.

As the SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn pointed out, why is it that the British government's investment of public money into opposing Scottish independence is deemed to be "impartial" while the Scottish Government's work on developing a case for independence is deemed partisan and beyond the pale.

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn accuses top UK civil servant of 'partisan political agenda'

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the Conservatives and their allies know that they cannot win a fair and equitable debate on Scottish independence given the moral, political and intellectual bankruptcy of the supposed case for the Union. Instead, they are seeking to prevent free and fair debate and to shackle their opponents.

The Scotland Office, which has seen its spending on spin doctors balloon over recent years – from just £108,000 in 2010 to £1,123,199 last year – has effectively turned into an anti-independence propaganda unit. Under Alister Jack (below), the Scotland Office no longer sees its job as being to promote Scotland within the Westminster government but rather to promote the Westminster government in Scotland.

The National: Alister Jack blocked transgender law reforms passed by the Scottish Parliament earlier this year

In addition, the UK Government has its "Union Unit" within Gove's (below) department, which hoovers up even more public money in a desperate attempt to bolster support for an increasingly discredited UK.

However the Tories and their allies are going against the tide of history. Recent research shows that a sense of a British identity is growing more and more fragile in Scotland following Brexit and the accession of the unpopular Charles III to the throne.

Dr Nick Whittaker, who specialises in international relations and geopolitics at the University of Sussex, has said that this fragility is being compounded by the "cavalier" attitude that the Conservative government has shown towards the Union, cutting Scotland's elected representatives out of any influence in the form that Brexit took, which has been all the more damaging since Scotland rejected Brexit. He noted that despite their protestations, the Conservatives are essentially an English nationalist party who take the other nations of the UK for granted.

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Dr Whittaker argued that the long term prospects for the UK staying united are "pretty poor”. This can be seen in the demographic trends of support for Scottish independence, where only the oldest age cohorts now regularly show a strong majority in opposition while younger age groups tend to be strongly in favour of independence.

Dr Whittaker added that while the “high watermark” for having another independence referendum appeared to have passed in Scotland, he would not be surprised if it came back. The emergence of younger generations who want to get back into the EU would be a difficult issue for politicians from Unionist parties to ignore.

Tory policies, or the same with a greeting face?

The National: Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Anas Sarwar (above), the leader of Labour's Scottish Optional Identity Mark has defended his boss Keir Starmer from accusations that he has wholeheartedly espoused Conservative policies on immigration and other issues. Sarwar insisted that this was unfair, although he did not deny that Starmer had adopted cruel and nasty Conservative policies. Rather he claimed that the Labour party had only adopted inhumane Tory policies because it was the only way to "deal with the mess that we inherit" and that it made him "deeply unhappy".

Oh well, that makes it all so much better then. We can have cruel and vile Tory policies under the Conservatives, or we can have the exact same cruel and vile policies under a Labour party which delivers them with a greeting face because it lacks the moral fibre to stand up to the rabid right-wing press.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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