In the last week or so the phrase ‘The Ulsterisation of Scottish politics’ has cropped up from time in both the press and social media.The argument is that the recent results of the Scottish Parliament elections have confirmed that the old axis of left and right in Scottish politics is no more and has been replaced by a struggle between those who oppose or favour independence.

Read more: David Torrance: The Ulsterisation of Scottish politics is complete

No longer, according to this perspective are health,housing and education the overarching issues of contention in Scottish political life. Instead they are marginalized by a fixation on the constitution which is now the only political battleground between the parties.We are now, it is suggested, in a new era of identity politics in Scotland, which it is argued by the proponents of this thesis, can be compared to the single issue conflict which has long dominated Ulster between unionists and nationalists.

HeraldScotland: GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 17:  Yes activists gather in George Square on September 17, 2014 in Glasgow,Scotland.The referendum debate has entered its final day of campaigning as the Scottish people prepare to go to the polls tomorrow to decide whether

The concept itself is problematic. It is beyond belief that the future fate of the next SNP government will not depend to a very significant extent on how it performs on the key domestic issues and equally how far the opposition parties are capable of mounting an effective attack on SNP policies in the very same sphere.

Nevertheless, the Ulster analogy has predictably triggered a storm of protest in the blogosphere from supporters of Scottish independence who are well aware that any reference to political ‘Ulsterisation’ comes with a great deal of sinister historical baggage.

It will take a long time for memories to fade of the three decades of appalling ethnic violence in Ulster which resulted in over 3500 dead from both nationalist and unionist communities. Even today the paramilitaries continue to draw some recruits from both sides. The shadow of the gunman has not yet been entirely lifted from the province. Hence to suggest parallels between Ulster and Scotland on the constitutional front is regarded by many Scottish anti-union commentators in recent days not simply as deeply offensive but an unacceptable attempt to blacken the image of the independence movement by threatening reinvention of a new and even more scary Project Fear.

HeraldScotland: Unionists gather in George Square, Glasgow, following the Scottish independence referendum

Read more: David Leask: Ulsterisation? Scotland says No

In my view, however, any incipient hysteria on this issue is a waste of time and energy. The analogy which has been suggested may well anger some but they should be advised not rise so easily to the bait. This is an ephemeral storm in a teacup which will soon be forgotten because the concept lacks any intellectual purchase in historical or contemporary for some of the wilder claims which have been drawn in the social media about politics in Scotland and Ulster.

Ulster was born out of the partition of Ireland which was finally implemented after the bloody civil war of the early 1920s. It borders were drawn deliberately and carefully to ensure a perpetual Protestant electoral majority and a Catholic minority. Gerrymandering of votes provided additional protection for unionist hegemony.

Injustice and instability were therefore built into Ulster politics from birth. Sectarian traditions and ethnic loyalties were buttressed by tribalism founded on religious affiliation.

Stability, albeit of the brittle variety, is still only secured to this day by a power-sharing executive representative of the two sides, brokered and sponsored by the British and Irish governments. The Troubles may now belong to Ulster’s past but Ulster’s present remains that of a post-conflict society where ethnic and religious differences still prevail. Working class areas of Belfast stubbornly remain either green or orange. The old loyalties are still bequeathed within many families from one generation to the next.

Ironically, however, despite tribal voting patterns, the issue of union with the rest of Ireland or with Britain is now actually less contentious than current debates on Scottish independence. Four fifths of the citizens of Ulster on recent polling across the sectarian divide have indicated a solid preference to remain within the British union. There is no parallel therefore to the vigorous discussions on the future of Scotland which occurred before, during and after the referendum.

Read more: David Torrance: Scottish nationalists and Brexiteers have much in common. Both are utterly vacuous

Scotland may be only separated from the north of Ireland by a short sea crossing but its twentieth century political history could as well belong to another planet. Political stability, fair electoral processes, a focus on ‘bread and butter’ issues and the ebb and flow of the domination of either Tory or Labour majorities were its hallmarks. The SNP only emerged as a credible political force when it began to espouse civic nationalism and ditched the blood and soil variety. Sectarianism, both a blight in Scottish society, and influencing working class voting patterns until the early 1980s, is now mainly in retreat.

The support of many Roman Catholics for independence during the 2014 referendum and for the SNP more generally in recent times is confirmation of the irrelevance of religious affiliation in modern political commitments. Scottish politics are not conducted in rigid and timeless silos but have experienced a series of remarkable transformation over the past decades: the rise of nationalism, the immolation of Labour and the partial revival of Conservatism.

No one should underestimate the passion with which the referendum campaign was fought. In a fashion which would have been unusual in Ulster, families were often split on how they should vote on the vital question of the nation’s future. Yet any violence that occurred was verbal rather than physical. When I lecture in North America or Europe I am often reminded by audiences in several countries how impressed they still are by that fact.

The very different histories of Scotland and Ulster have moulded two profoundly different political cultures in modern times. Little wonder then that vacuous ideas such as the ‘Ulsterisation of Scotland’ cannot have any serious analytical traction.

Sir Tom Devine is Professor Emeritus at The University of Edinburgh. His latest book 'Independence or Union: Scotland's Past and Scotland's Present' is out now from Allan Lane The Penguin Press.