WHEN politicians reach for infantile locutions about unity and social harmony it pays to have anti-nausea pills handy. They dip into this dismal lexicon when they have nothing else of any use or intelligence to impart. They are especially adept at fetishising unity even as they present suites of policies specifically designed to engender a sense of alienation and social isolation.

British politicians of a reactionary and right-wing stripe are especially fond of warning the rest of us about the dangers of division and the healing power of togetherness. In this fairy-tale world only the right type of harmony is lauded. These usually occur under a summertime carapace of Union Jacks when royal occasions arrive or when another military adventure is beginning, ending or simply being commemorated.

The elites get a little more nervous when crowds gather to oppose the illegal bombing of civilians in the Middle East; support striking miners or to condemn the causes of social inequality. These don’t represent unity of purpose at all, but are seen as the dark materials of disunity aggravated by rascals acting against Britain’s interests.

READ MORE: Gordon Brown: Scotland ‘at risk of becoming one of West’s most divided countries’ 

During the first referendum on Scottish independence the British Right and their unwitting Labour stooges declaimed against disunity and how we were all better together, walking hand-in-hand towards some congenial Xanadu where unicorns graze peacefully in English meadows.

The social sciences department of Glasgow University also succumbed to this pink-ribboned fantasy by establishing the John Smith Centre for Public Service. This centre for boutique intellectuals seeks to promote “trust in politics and public service”. An authentic social sciences course really ought to be promoting mistrust in politics and social service. This is the only valid starting position for anyone who is serious about wanting to create a better society. It could run a term of lectures under this heading focusing entirely on the conduct and outcomes of the 2014 referendum.

In this we were promised a guarantee of continuing EU membership while Scotland’s elderly were hounded by Gordon Brown’s litany of falsehoods and disinformation to believe that the Union would protect their pensions. Yes supporters were condemned for sowing nastiness and division. Six years later we have witnessed a campaign to leave the EU which was fuelled almost entirely by ideas of English supremacy and exclusion. This delivered a Government that’s beginning to resemble South Africa’s old apartheid regime in the language and measures it deploys to denigrate those whom it considers inferior or unworthy of UK citizenship.

Boris Johnson, the main beneficiary of this revolution from above, continues to block all attempts at holding a second referendum on Scottish independence. Yet, it becomes clearer with every new edict from Dominic Cummings’ laboratory for human experimentation that the Britain which existed in 2014 has been replaced by something darker and more sinister. This week John Bercow, the former Commons speaker, suggested that each time Mr Johnson blocks calls for a referendum he risks increasing support for independence.

His observations reflect a creeping sense of unease among some Unionists that a second referendum is becoming inevitable and that when it does eventually take place a significant number of those who voted No will have turned to Yes in response to Mr Johnson’s high-handed attitude. They think that something must give if the united Britain that so enchants them isn’t to be progressively undermined by Scotland itching to leave and reinforced by an overwhelming Yes majority at next year’s Holyrood election.

READ MORE: Gordon Brown: UK will have to change if Scotland is to stay 

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown roams the land like a toothless lion seeking redemption after a career cut down by his own hubris and bad judgment. In Newcastle yesterday he returned to his favoured theme of this disunited kingdom in a speech to the These Islands Conference.

Responding to a poll showing only 16% of Scots believed the country was ‘united’ he said: “Scotland is at risk of becoming one of the west’s most divided countries and stuck in a rut. The poll shows that Scotland is not just more divided than at any time in my lifetime but these divisions could dominate our lives for many decades.”

For the purposes of full disclosure I’m sure Mr Brown would be keen to acknowledge that this poll was commissioned by a think-tank called Our Scottish Future, set up to advance Unionist ideas and founded by none other than his good self.

The main problem with Mr Brown’s position is that he has become a major cause of the division he purports to revile. In the years since the first independence referendum he has deployed increasingly injudicious language and outlandish theories in decrying the Scottish Government. Last month he accused the SNP of caring more about independence than the NHS. He has made a career out of insulting the Scottish Government and those many Scots – now approaching a majority – who favour independence. If Scotland does require to be delivered from division and strife then he is the last person we should involve in the healing process.

Mr Brown and several of his former colleagues in Labour’s old guard all made nice lives for themselves while inveighing against inequality on these islands. It’s the party’s single, greatest defining characteristic. It was formed to fight the most grievous divisions undermining harmony in the UK and which are far more insidious than mere constitutional ones.

This country is a society divided along social fault-lines: rich and poor; privileged and disadvantaged; British and foreign; weak and strong. The Tories’ traditional power and wealth will be threatened if these social divisions were ever to be healed. They rely on them remaining unspoiled. The ultimate tragedy of Gordon Brown is that his obsessive loathing of independence deflects us from the real causes of social division in Scotland and the UK. He risks becoming an unwitting lapdog of the Tories

The Conservatives and those who seek favour and social preferment under them rail against division. They regard it as the first sign of society unravelling. I would contend that division and tumult are reassuring signs of life; that the country still has a heartbeat and hasn’t yet been anaesthetised and mummified by acquiescence and blind acceptance of your lot. Mr Brown needs to pick a side here; get back in the good fight and curb his bizarre obsession with the Union.