THE pro-Union parties’ disdain for Scotland’s opinions and priorities has become so all-consuming that they are alienating their own MSPs.

How long will it be before Tory and Labour politicians north of the Border understand how little they matter to their masters in London?

Recent developments have seen the Scottish “leaders” of both parties humiliated, ignored and disrespected in very public displays of Londoncentricity.

The gap between Labour’s Anas Sarwar and Keir Starmer widened with the UK leader’s pledge to legalise assisted dying in direct opposition to Sarwar’s pledge to oppose it.

The pair have been locked in a struggle over the party’s position in Gaza for months. Sarwar has spoken out for the urgent need for a ceasefire to stop the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Starmer has prevaricated and delayed, only backing an immediate ceasefire when he saw the chance to seize the initiative from the SNP in a Commons vote.

Who is closer to the public mood in Scotland? A public mood that has seen major demonstrations all over the country urging an immediate ceasefire? A public mood that has seen an awe-inspiring response to this newspaper’s fundraising campaign for Medical Aid for Palestinians. More than £90,000 has been raised in barely a week and the campaign has been supported by politicians from most political parties in Scotland.

The most recent embarrassment over assisted dying came when Starmer promised to change the law to make it legal in the first parliamentary term if he won the next General Election. Sarwar said last year he would not vote for legislation to make that same change at Holyrood. He told The Scotsman: “I’m yet to be persuaded on the legislation. I don’t instinctively support [it].”

You might have expected Starmer to be sensitive to Sarwar’s position on the issue before committing himself to a course of action the Scottish leader opposes. Of course, we are not so far allowed to know Sarwar’s reaction to the idea. Scottish Labour refused to comment when The National asked them to comment.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour silent as Keir Starmer contradicts Anas Sarwar on assisted dying

Relations between Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and his boss Rishi Sunak are even worse. Ross is reported to be on the brink of quitting when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ignored his plea not to extend the windfall tax on North Sea energy firms.

Personally, I’d extend the windfall tax for at least a decade. The eye-watering profits being banked by the energy firms are abhorrent. That’s just one of many reasons I’m not leading the Tories in Scotland. But Ross is their leader and has a right to expect that his views carry some weight.

Ross does not share his Labour counterpart’s reluctance to speak on this disagreement. He has denied he threatened to quit but has said he will not vote for it in the House of Commons. I don’t see how he can stay as Tory leader in Scotland if – as is likely – he’s the only Tory MP to vote against the extension.

Internal political spats come and go but these seem to confirm a general trend of party leaders’ annoyance with Scottish members expressing views different to those held south of the Border. Here are just some examples:

1: Gender recognition

SARWAR supported changes in gender recognition which allowed self-identification. Starmer doesn’t agree. Labour’s National Policy Forum has ruled out including self-identification in any of the party’s gender recognition reforms. Starmer insists that a self-identification system to allow transgender people to legally identify as their chosen gender without a medical diagnosis is not the “right way forward”.

2: The rape clause

SARWAR has described the so-called “rape clause” – which puts the onus on women to prove that a child is a victim of rape to avoid the two-child limit on child benefit kicking in – as “heinous”. Starmer has refused to commit himself to scrapping it, saying only that he would use it “more fairly”.

3: Employment and drug laws

THE Scottish Labour manifesto in 2021 included the devolution of employment laws. Such a move, it stated, would “encourage a race to the top on workers’ terms and conditions”.

Yet Sarwar was told by UK Labour not to support a Holyrood motion for the immediate devolution of employment law. Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner had said it was unnecessary.

Sarwar had also expressed support for the devolution of drug laws to the Scottish Parliament but last year changed his mind and said he opposed the devolution.

The Westminster Home Affairs Committee – chaired by Labour MP Diana Johnson – recommended overdose prevention centres should be part of an overhaul of drugs policy and said if Westminster disagreed powers to do so should be devolved to Holyrood. Speaking soon after Sarwar said: “Listen, I don’t support the devolution of our drug laws because I think it’s great to have consistency across the UK.”

4: Devolution

THIS is less a disagreement between Sarwar and Starmer than Sarwar’s authority over the party in Scotland. So far two Labour councillors in Scotland have undermined devolution by calling on Tory minister Michael Gove to go over the heads of the Scottish Parliament by allocating cash for devolved responsibilities. Labour’s Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe wants funding from Westminster uncoupled from the Scottish government’s Council Tax freeze. And Labour’s West Dunbartonshire Council leader Martin Rooney wants Gove to bypass the Scottish Parliament and instead directly give money to Scottish councils. Sarwar has yet to comment.

5: Douglas Ross urges ‘vote Labour’

THE leader of the Scottish Tories no doubt infuriated Sunak when he said a vote for Labour was acceptable if it denied the SNP electoral success. He was soon slapped down by a Tory spokesperson in Westminster who said tactical voting was “emphatically not” supported by the party.

6: ‘Lightweight’ Ross

JACOB Rees Mogg described his party’s leader in Scotland as a “lightweight” and “not a big figure” in the Conservative Party.

He was hitting out after Ross became the first senior Tory to call for the resignation of the then-prime minister Boris Johnson. The result was a bitter war of words between Tories at Westminster and in Scotland. Conservative MSP Jamie Greene suggested Rees-Mogg ought to “have a long lie down”.

7: Murdo Fraser’s big idea

IT sounded a winner at the time. Murdo Fraser was standing to become leader of the Scottish Tories in 2011 when he hit on a plan to regain his party’s support in Scotland: scrap it. Then replace with new, right-wing party entirely separate from London control. Sounds like Scottish independence.

Apart from the right-wing part. Fraser said at the time: “I think it’s time we launched a new progressive, centre-right party with a distinct Scottish identity.” He was beaten in the 2011 leadership contest and his idea was quietly shelved, only to be wheeled out whenever there is a serious fissure between the Scottish and UK Tory leaders. Like now.

But just as the pressures currently pulling the Union itself apart look like proving fatal, so do the aggravations within the pillars of that union begin to resemble death throes. Even without an imminent indyref2 we’re entering a period where the Union is coming to end because it can no longer sustain its inherent contradictions.

This contains opportunities for those of us who support independence. If we continue to articulate and fight for the benefits independence will very obviously bring us, we can hasten then day that dream comes true.

But it also carries dangers. There will be collateral damage of the tensions we are currently experiencing and that could include a clampdown on devolution before the final dawn of independence.

We all share the responsibility to fight against that. If that involves Scottish members of the Labour and Conservative parties throwing off the restrictions imposed by their London “headquarters”, that’s exactly what they should do.