PEOPLE inside and outside the SNP have complained that the hierarchy and decision-making process has been in too small a number of hands. Complained too that the National Executive Committee is no longer fully elected or representative of members’ views and priorities.

Now the focus has shifted to alleged ­control freakery in the people’s party. Not so much “alleged” as actual. The memo sent to constituency Labour parties forbade them to debate the Middle East crisis.

There’s been a raft of resignations and public unrest from councillors, the ­London and greater Manchester mayors and ­Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (below) to Sir Keir Starmer’s unequivocal support for Israeli tactics.

The National: Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar

What shocked me most, having watched and rewatched his LBC interview, is the fact that he seemed to deny the evidence of his own voice having got wind of widescale unrest in his party ranks.

Rather than rewrite broadcasting ­history and suggest he didn’t say what he said, he could have taken the unhappiness on board and re-examined his own stance and ­conscience. After all, as the Tories never tire of advising us, he’s not a stranger to policy U-turns.

Yet herein lies a terrible truth about ­party politics. They positively encourage a “my party right or wrong” mentality. Worse still, they actively prevent elected ­representatives from saying what they ­actually think and believe, instead ­being so fearful of straying from the party line that they become little more than an echo chamber for whomsoever is calling the shots.

This is dismally evident whenever ­anything contentious is debated in the ­Holyrood chamber – from gender recognition reform, to council tax freezes, to abortion buffer zones. People – let’s be frank here – are too scared to give voice to their real opinions lest they fall out of ­favour with their party hierarchy.

I watched the entire GRR debate and ­several things became all too clear. One was the failure of Labour members to ­support amendments they knew to be ­important, because the word had come down that the then party line had to be toed. (Like so much else in modern politics, that line seems to have shifted retrospectively .) Another was the contribution of Tory MSP Jamie Greene (below). Now I can’t imagine he and I agree about very much politically, if anything at all. Most certainly not the imperative to support self-ID.

The National: Jamie Greene MSP

Yet he stood up and made a very ­moving speech at odds with the ­Conservative ­opposition to the bill; one of the best ­contributions of the day. I didn’t and don’t share his views, but I greatly admired his courage and self-evident honesty.

That admiration did not extend to his party hierarchy who, six months later, dumped him as their justice ­spokesperson. In fact, dumped him from their entire frontbench team. Such is the way of the party political world. And the main ­reason I have never lusted after any formal role in the political world.

With party leadership comes power and patronage. And, all too often, a ­superiority complex which manages to convince him – almost always a him – that the faithful are too ignorant and ­gullible to be trusted.

What the plebs obviously need is the smack of firm governance.

What they need is to learn that dissent is nothing more than disloyalty to the party. Most especially they need to know that the folk at the top know best; that’s why they’re up there.

From time to time, the faithful can ­indeed be accused of gullibility. Boris Johnson perfected the trick of selling ­himself as the PM the country needed when, as became obvious, he was ill ­suited by everything from personality and temperament to a relationship with the truth which could most charitably be described as semi detached.

Yet, however belatedly, his party ­realised what a poor fit he was for the top job. With Liz Truss, they didn’t hang about nearly as long, though the queue for her shtick at the Tory Party ­conference suggests many grassroots ­supporters still think her more durable than a ­supermarket lettuce.

And we need only glance across the pond, where the odious Trump (below), now ­starring in a courtroom near almost ­every American, still seems on course to be his party’s Republican candidate in next year’s presidential election.

The National: Former president Donald Trump has been fined (Yuki Iwamura/AP)

He too rules by fear. His once Grand Old Party has comprehensively mislaid the plot. Even his rival candidates can’t bring themselves to admit that they ­almost lost democracy itself when ­rioters trashed their parliament, following Trump’s ­denial of the Biden victory.

Further down the food chain, no ­local Congressional representatives can bring themselves to tell it like it is to their ­voters, lest Trump orchestrate the wrath of his followers and bring it down upon them.

Thus America finds itself in the ­unenviable situation of likely having a contest between two old white men (well, one orange, one white) – one of whom is bed-blocking talent and the other of whom might be campaigning from the clink, if justice prevails.

Nevertheless, I suspect that in both America and the UK, there is a longing for politicians who are true to themselves; who don’t put their quest for power above morality, decency and common ­humanity.

I well understand why Sir Keir, who can almost smell victory in the air, feels compelled to present as united a front as he can muster.

Yet how hollow would that victory be, if the trade off was selling the soul of his party he leads to the lowest bidder?

It is true that in times of strife, ­whether that be in Eastern Europe or the ­Middle East, it matters that the party of ­government and the principal party of ­opposition find a way to stay roughly on the same page.

But that imperative surely can’t survive a circumstance where it becomes ­necessary to turn a blind eye to yet more grotesque human suffering.

Of course Israel has a right to self-­defence. Of course the Hamas ­attacks were, by their depraved nature, ­utterly disgusting. Yet if history has any ­lessons for us, and for politics, it is that ­reprising appalling behaviour, ­murdering other ­innocents, cannot provide a ­lasting ­solution to an immensely complex ­situation.

Even if Hamas is disabled, the ­torment of Gaza will have recruited another army of militants, another generation of ­terrorism -inclined victims who mistake violent vengeance for justice.

WE are witnessing the death of nuance in politics. We are allowing diversity of opinion to become a hate crime. Honest disagreement is being portrayed as a failure to understand the one holy truth.

It’s a commonplace to lay this ­illiberalism at the foot of social media. It’s more widespread than that. Trolls are no longer just keyboard warriors whose “bravery” is predicated on their ­anonymity.

We are outlawing rationality and ­common humanity and too often we’re doing it in the name of party ­subservience. It’s that inability to accept the slightest criticism which has bred the toxicity we see all around us.

Nobody, absolutely nobody, has a ­monopoly on wisdom, and it is not ­actually a sign of weakness to accept ­personal responsibility for mistakes. Quite the reverse. It takes a lot more guts to admit you got something wrong than to double down on an error of judgement.

Enough is surely enough. I’ve had it with political leaders in suits making ­macho pronouncements while babies are bombed in the Middle East and Ukraine or civilians are shot with battle-grade weaponry on the streets of the USA.

There is some human suffering about which we can do little. So-called “­natural” disasters like the recent earthquakes. Though storms, floods and wildfire are often aided and abetted by human greed and ignorance.

We CAN call out injustice. We can ­demand innocents don’t pay the price of avenging terrorism.