THEY don’t mean us, of course. All of this chat about north-south divides, levelling up, etc. All over the airwaves it’s been clear this week that the chat is about the North of England versus the South (East) of England.

And if anyone demurs on a live broadcast, it’s merely to complain that the English North West is getting undue attention compared to the English North East, not least since both Tory and Labour conferences are going there. Maybe they couldn’t find a fast enough train to the other side.

Yet this week has also given us the starkest of examples as to why the real north/south divide is between England and Scotland; between Westminster and Holyrood.

This is not to argue that Scotland is inherently superior – we have our very own racists and sectarian bampots, for instance. Yet it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone from a current or future Scottish government making the kind of tin-eared speech Suella Braverman did in Washington.

No surprise that she was playing to the right-wing US gallery as well as those in Europe and the more rabid of her Tory colleagues. No surprise that a woman who wants to pack asylum seekers off to an African country with which they have no connection should be playing footsie with the notion of pulling out of existing human rights legislation.

READ MORE: Hundreds protest in London against Rosebank oilfield approval

It sometimes seems that a prerequisite for a Conservative home secretary is to promise to be less compassionate than his/her predecessor, though it has to be said that “compassionate conservatism” qualifies as one of the more obvious oxymorons of our time.

But this is all of a piece with a government that hilariously claims to be on the side of hard-working families, despite record numbers of the latter now in Tory-inspired poverty thanks to years of austerity capped with the fallout from “Trussonomics”. Despite record numbers of children and their parents going hungry.

We have our own long-standing problems with poverty, no question. But ours is a country which introduced a Scottish Child Payment which has made a discernible difference to thousands of families trapped on the wrong side of the wealth divide.

Or, as Oxford professor Danny Dorling observed the other day, the Scottish Child Payment may have caused the largest fall in child poverty anywhere in Europe “since the fall of the Berlin Wall”.

Governing is about choices, and we have chosen to expand the free school meals project at a time when it took an English footballer to shame the Conservative government into an admission that kids don’t lose their appetites during the school holidays.

The National: It's hard to imagine Suella Braverman's language being used by a minister in ScotlandIt's hard to imagine Suella Braverman's language being used by a minister in Scotland

We have chosen to give a baby box full of essentials to every family in the land. And recognised that a poem qualifies as an essential! Imagine, if you can, any Tory minister thinking like that.

Chosen to introduce a number of new benefits only available in Scotland. Chosen not to burden Scottish students with lifelong debts from tuition fees. Chosen to make personal care free.

The point is not that Scotland is a land of milk and honey, but that successive governments have tried to engage with the best instincts of the voting public, rather than play to the baying mobs.

The existential challenge of climate change and global warming is another example where short-termism is given a makeover and re-sold as “energy security” or “help with bills”. The only real security on offer these days is to the shareholders of the massive fossil-fuel industries, whose ardent lobbying resulted in a windfall tax with more holes in it than an Emmental cheese board.

No surprise that the PM’s serial U-turns on policies designed – however poorly and belatedly – to get to a carbon-neutral future were met with cheers from very big businesses, and scepticism from the First Minister.

READ MORE: Multiple injuries after Flying Scotsman collision at Aviemore

It’s almost as if some of these UK ministers have convinced themselves that catastrophic wildfires or flooding, melting ice floes and glaciers, and the myriad evidence of a planet dying has somehow got nothing to do with them and theirs.

Which brings us back to that appalling speech by Braverman. All over the world – at the top echelons of the United Nations and the European Commission, in the global scientific community – there is an awareness that we are destined to have many millions more refugees to contend with.

Many will lose their homes as the climactic changes make their land uninhabitable. Many have lost them already due to war and regional conflicts. Some will be seeking a better future for their children, as did the parents of Patel, Braverman and Sunak.

And many will be the victims of persecution because of their sexual orientation which in some countries means imprisonment and in others carries the death penalty. Perhaps Ms Braverman doesn’t regard loss of life or liberty as adequate evidence.

These are the differences between governments who attempt to make life better and more equitable – not always successfully – and governments with an inbuilt “I’m all right, Jack” mentality.

READ MORE: Lee Anderson calls Carol Vorderman 'plastic' over GB News criticism

Meanwhile, the wannabe Labour government, sadly for many of us, seems intent on a makeover too. Every week another commitment shredded from the money once pledged to a green future, to the promise – and it was a promise – of charitable status being removed from public/private schools.

From agreeing to maintain the two-child cap on benefits, to the pledge not to remove the latest oilfield licence. How are you sleeping at night, Ed Miliband, by the way?

Self-evidently, a victory in 2024/5 will not be as sweet as the 1997 variety. The note left for an incoming chancellor saying the money has all gone will not be an ill-advised joke this time. Thus the oft-repeated mantra about no unfunded pledges.

Which has left many of Labour’s would-be supporters wondering what exactly that party is for these days. It’s fine and possibly even dandy to be pragmatic, but if the poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free aren’t given some sustenance in the form of hope, why would they support a party which sometimes seems a pale imitation of what’s been on offer these many shambolic years?

I happen to think the shadow UK cabinet is vastly more talented than the actual one, though the bar is increasingly low. But unless and until they are sufficiently unshackled to voice what used to be known as Labour values, they risk widespread abstentions.

The National: Labour leader Keir StarmerLabour leader Keir Starmer

People need more than a totally unnecessary ID to come out and vote. They need to know their vote offers the possibility of a better life for them and, crucially, better opportunities for their kids.

People neither know nor necessarily understand the technical ins and outs of charging VAT on private education. They sure as hell understand abolishing charitable status.

They understand how these schools are the most obvious example of buying privilege, which is why the UK has had no fewer than 20 old Etonians in Number 10. They cannot for the life of them see how and why they qualify as a charity, even when private schools admit a handful of pupils on bursaries as useful window-dressing.

Of course, our current PM didn’t go to Eton. He went to Winchester whose current fees are a kick in the pants of 50 grand a year. Hands up how many voters have 50k down the back of the sofa? How many have even earned that kind of money, let alone have it to spare for education?

Never mind the North/South divide, Sir Keir. Time you addressed the Labour/Tory divide. Because according to a lot of your erstwhile support, the gap site isn’t that obvious.

And nowhere might that matter more than in Scotland where, you say, you intend to make serious gains. Mmm.