I WAS half-way through Yellowface when it all kicked off.

Rebecca F Kuang’s bestseller about the perils of modern writing had reached a creative crescendo.

The unreliable narrator, a young author, has been accused of stealing the manuscript of a dead friend and passing herself off as an Asian-American novelist and has been ­rumbled. As she tries to hunker down in her ­Washington DC apartment, all hell breaks loose, and she is engulfed in an ­unrestrained social media pile-on.

The racist filth they throw at her is vile, her career is in the dustbin and her mental health shot to bits.

It is not clear what she should do – come clean about the origins of her book, close down her social media accounts or end her own life?

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It’s a book about plagiarism and the vagaries of the publishing industry, which never drifts far from the troubled mind of the central character. Despite its narrow focus, Yellowface is an unusually gripping novel, a rare masterpiece that finds ­genuine drama in the otherwise dull world of ­academia and contemporary ­literature.

By the end of chapter 11, the young ­writer is so badly savaged by online ­criticism, she imagines “a crowd of angry voices and pointed fingers converging on me to rip pieces of flesh from my body like the naiads did to Orpheus...”.

The young novelist has reached a point where social media is torturing her but a dark need to know what’s going on means she can’t turn it off. It is a strange ­masochism that means she cannot stop looking at her phone and face more waves of punishment.

“Block them,” her friends say, as if that is an answer.

Just as I read the last few words of the young author’s fear of the ­public ­cancellation, my own social media ­account burst into life with a strangely self-destructive post by Laura McConnell, the prospective Labour candidate for the twinned selection of Livingston/­Bathgate and Linlithgow.

The comparisons were starkly similar and having read the book alongside the emotional storm on Scottish political ­social media, I genuinely felt for Laura, up to a point.

McConnell is an online Labour activist. Her errant post seemed to claim that the Union was a bandage of protection from the inherent anti-Catholic character of the SNP and the supposed bigotry of ­Scottish independence. Many have hyped the ­virtues of the broad shoulders of the Union, but this was a new one on me!

The post, which has since been ­deleted, implied that as a Catholic she feared ­independence: “As part of the ­multi-generational Irish Catholic ­community of Scotland, I will NEVER trust the SNP or Scots in general as far as I can throw them.”

It’s an overly emotional statement ­complete with screeching capitals. Seen in retrospect, it is a largely unsustainable opinion. But we must never lose sight of the fact that it was an opinion – a very ­exaggerated one, but still just an opinion.

Let me declare an interest here. While I do not know Laura personally, we share a civil online relationship. Both of us have an interest in autism and neurodiversity. We are also passionate about all that is good in Scottish education and one tweet is not going to undermine all of that, not for me anyway.

Here is the real conundrum: Laura McConnell is not stupid, and this heated comment is best dismissed as social ­media pontificating, a sport at which Scotland excels.

In a pre-election era when the once-routed Labour Party are twitching back into life, some seem keen to reignite tribal battles from days gone by.

Calling a truce is a romance that may never come about but as an independence supporter, I can live with a few misplaced insults, I just hope for better discourse.

Twitter/X is a platform where nuance and subtlety are conspicuous by their absence, so I have decided to let Laura’s post pass into the abyss of rubbish that ­social media generates daily.

Let our catechism unite us. Although I only made it to altar boy, and was never a priest, I forgive her, and in the spirit of our shared religion, I recommend three Hail Marys and a quick refresher course on Keir Hardie and home rule. By the way, for the lefties among you, that’s the Keir that didn’t accept a knighthood.

AS a Catholic of Irish ancestry, I did not recognise Laura’s stance but her over-reaching faux pas underlines a point often conveniently forgotten in Scotland.

Since 2014, and up to and including the rise of Alba, it is always presumed, at least by the journalism of the status quo, that it is independence supporters that are a toxic presence online.

It’s strange how so many Tory and ­Labour trolls get a free hit. MSPs Stephen Kerr (below) and the Perthshire list MSP Murdo Fraser (who frequently confuses ­support for the Union with a Glasgow ­football team) rarely take a rest from ­social ­media and they are mainly sneering and ­provocative, rather than reaching out to those in need.

The National:

Labour have much to feel ­embarrassed about, too. I struggle to think what former MP Ian Davidson meant when he claimed that the only ­outstanding business after the 2014 ­referendum was to “bayonet the wounded”.

Others carrying the baggage of online vitriols include Wigan MP Lisa Nandy who advocated police brutality on indy supporters and the former leadership ­candidate Emily Thornberry who was forced to apologise after she said in a speech that she “hated the SNP”.

And never forget the serially ­repugnant Kate Hoey, one-time Labour MP for ­Lambeth, who draped herself in orange bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment, as she sailed down the Thames supporting Nigel Farage’s politics of the far right. Now there’s an alliance that Catholics should be concerned about.

Laura’s anti-SNP tweet has now been ­deleted with insiders saying that she had undermined her case for ­candidate ­selection. Those that love deeper ­conspiracy suggest she may even have ­received a rushed call from Labour ­Party central office, ­nervous that she had ­muddied carefully swept ground.

The Labour Party are permanently nervous of evoking religion or indeed the grubby old working class. If the call from head office did come, then I ­suspect it has nothing to do with respect for the SNP or the hundreds of thousands of ­Catholics that advocate independence in Scotland and had much more to do with the ­blandness of Starmerism.

Laura broke a cardinal rule of ­Starmer’s bid for power. Opposing ­Scottish ­self-governance was fine – her crime was voicing contentious opinions that stood out from the crowd and were not ­sufficiently conformist about the ­ electoral landscape.

If Labour are to win the next election – and its increasingly likely that they will – it will be a story of Tory failure that drives them to victory. Starmer is guiding them not with the reforming zeal of Labour past, but by doing nothing to rock the boat or challenge the firm centre ground.

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Unlike Tony Blair’s entrance to ­Number 10, it will be a victory shorn of triumph, and even more shorn of socialism.

Having read Yellowface and its ­cautionary tale of social media and how it distorts and inflames behaviour ­ detached from compassion and common decency, I hope that a reckless tweet does not come to define Laura ­McConnell, she has many good ­characteristics, including a ­passion for neurodiversity that would be a ­welcome addition to any parliament.