"WE'RE glad it's not us," was the polite response to a question about how others see us, specifically in relation to Brexit.

It was difficult to tease out a more expansive answer from the group of Europeans – Danish, German and Swedish – because they clearly felt the UK was suffering enough and didn't want to rub it in.

Yesterday the Scottish Parliament announced it would no longer fly the European flag above Holyrood as the Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said she had bunged £10 towards a crowdfunder to have Big Ben bong when the UK leaves the EU at 11pm on January 31.

It's all getting frighteningly real.

When the country is variously viewed as a laughing stock and to be pitied, it surely can only help that we have a major event coming up, giving Scotland the chance to shine on the world stage.

And not just any event – one of the most significant the UK has seen. Large enough to knock the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games into a cocked hat.

Yet the backlash against COP 26, the United Nations Climate Change Summit, has already begun.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the event, to be held in Glasgow at the SEC Campus on the banks of the River Clyde, is expected to cost hundreds of millions of pounds in policing costs. It was a wonder that anyone was surprised.

Glasgow will host up to 200 world leaders and 40,000 delegates.

It's due to be the largest policing operation the UK has seen - this sort of thing doesn't come cheap.

Calum Steele, the General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, spoke positively about the event on BBC Radio Scotland on Wednesday morning, saying there had been nothing like it in Scotland or even the UK before.

Mr Steele described it as more significant than the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games and would require the largest mass mobilisation of UK police the country has seen.The G8 summits, he said, "will pale into insignificance."

He went into further details. Police Scotland will be unable to manage the event alone. The country will host leaders from the US, Russia, China and Israel, all of whom will demand their own safety and security considerations.

Alongside leaders, delegates and guests, the police service has to accommodate hundreds of protestors. Economic opportunities must be leapt on, he added. Scotland will be in the "spotlight of the world for those two weeks."

He pointed to the very clear potential economic benefits for Glasgow and for Scotland.

Yet even Mr Steele, after these positive sentiments, yesterday on Twitter shared a video of buckets collecting water pouring through the roof of Paisley Police Office. "It’s not unreasonable to ask," he posted alongside the image, "If we can’t even fix a roof how the hell will [COP26] be paid for?"

Nicola Sturgeon has called for Westminster to honour a pledge made to fund the event, given the UK is the host.

Conversely, GMB Scotland called for Glasgow to reject the chance to host the summit. It's secretary, Gary Smith, said the costs would "sicken frontline council staff and struggling local communities."

"The best thing government could do for Glasgow," he said, "Is to ditch hosting the COP and instead invest the money in dealing with the state of the city."

It's hardly the London Garden Bridge project, which, in case we've forgotten, saw £53m wasted, including £417,000 on a gala for the abandoned scheme. If nothing else, it all served to show the strength of positive feeling towards Joanna Lumley, a vocal campaigner for this extraordinary white elephant, as she should surely have lost her national treasure status over the shameful incident.

There is a string of other grossly wasteful examples of public funds. In 2016 it emerged the frequently delayed NHS 24 new telecommunication and patient information system was going to cost £50m more than originally forecast.

The HS2 railway plans have been described as at risk of becoming "a bottomless pit for taxpayers’ money". Finance Secretary Derek Mackay told MSPs last year that taxpayers were picking a bill of an £100m for two CalMac ferries, which look likely to be delivered four years late, due to "disastrous" previous management at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow.

There was much back and forth over whether the legacy of Glasgow's Commonwealth Games was all it was cracked up to be. The taxpayer spent £424.5 million on Glasgow 2014 and all anyone remembers is the dancing teacake, it goes.

There lies part of the problem. The public is used to politicians chucking its money away - whether on good faith projects such as the Games or ludicrous Boris Johnson vanity projects.

It's important that the spending of taxpayers' money is carefully scrutinised and those responsible for the mismanagement of publicly funded projects held to account.

The public is protective of its taxes, people work hard and want a return for their investment, and they do not automatically trust politicians to use their money wisely. Hence the almighty stooshie over Glasgow's Lord Provost spending her civic allowance on shoes.

Hence repeated grumbles when politicians head off on so-called junkets abroad. Last year the First Minister received pelters after travelling to Paris and straight on to North America.

This was at the same time Lib Dem MP Angela Smith referred to people of a "funny tinge". My personal preference is for outward-looking politicians who want to make strong global links... not those who blurt out racist epithets without a second thought.

Climate change is the most important issue of the day and this is an extraordinary chance for Glasgow, Scotland and the UK to be seen to be leading the way.

Squabbling over the costs of policing an event with myriad economic opportunities for the city is such an insular, short sighted way of thinking.

This is an international event and we must think internationally. It may be costly but the one thing we cannot afford is to be parochial when all eyes are on us, finally, for something of global importance.