This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

Here’s a thing, while you can’t accuse someone of lying in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament, you can accuse them of telling a “post-truth”.

That’s why, when, during First Minister’s Questions, Humza Yousaf said Douglas Ross’s “post-truth and his lies about the police service simply will not wash here in Scotland”, the Presiding Officer intervened. 

If he’d stopped at post-truth, he’d have been fine. 

The question here is, did Ross lie? Did the Scottish Tory leader tell what the First Minister later called a “deliberate inaccuracy”?

Well, he called Yousaf “a criminal’s dream”. 

The First Minister, he went on, “does not want them stopped, he does not want them caught and he does not want them in jail.”

You can argue that falling police officer numbers – they’re down by 662 on last year, but up 336 from 2007 – increasing reliance on recorded police warnings and diversion from prosecution means it’s likely that there are criminals who are not being stopped, or not being caught or not being jailed. 

And maybe you could then try to argue that by letting officer numbers fall, by allowing those who commit crimes to be dealt with outside the courts, and by not alleviating the financial pressure felt by the force, Yousaf does not want criminals stopped, caught or jailed. 

But the First Minister isn’t sitting about in St Andrew’s House clapping his hands while there’s a Purge-like free-for-all on the streets of Scotland. 

A quick scan of the Official Record – the written verbatim report of everything said in Holyrood – tells me we’ve now had 12 post-truth accusations in parliament.

The first was at First Minister’s Questions in 2011, when the then Labour leader Iain Gray accused Alex Salmond of saying something “demonstrably not true” about unemployment figures.

Most of the Holyrood post-truth mentions were in 2016, the year of Brexit and President-elect Donald Trump.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

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Thanks to the Tory Party conference, we’ve had quite a few of those fact-free emotional appeals this week. 

There was the promise from Mark Harper, the UK Government's Transport Secretary, to crack down on “sinister” 15-minute cities.

As you may know by now, the theory behind 15-minute cities and 20-minute neighbourhoods is that necessary amenities – home, work, shopping, education, healthcare, and leisure – are all within walking distance.

There is a theory – one could even call it a conspiracy theory – among some libertarian and right-wing commentators that this is more than just an urban planning concept. 

There are those who believe that these communities will ultimately become ghettos, with people unable to leave. 

It’s an anxiety whose roots lie partly in lockdown. If you need more background, I recommend my colleague Gaby McKay’s explainer here.

In his speech to the Tory Party conference, Mr Harper said he was “calling time on the misuse of so-called 15-minute cities”.

"There's nothing wrong with making sure people can walk or cycle to the shops or school, that's traditional town planning,” he said, perfectly reasonably. 

“But what is different, what is sinister and what we shouldn't tolerate is the idea that local councils can decide how often you go to the shops.”

Just to be clear, nobody, absolutely nobody is trying to limit how often you can go to the shops.

Then there was the nonsense from Claire Coutinho, the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. 

“It’s no wonder that Labour seems so relaxed about taxing meat. Keir Starmer doesn’t eat it and Ed Miliband is clearly scarred by his skirmish with a bacon sandwich,” she told the conference. 

Labour does not support the taxing of meat. 

When she was asked about the levy during an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News, Coutinho couldn’t provide any specific evidence, instead describing her comments as “a light-hearted moment in the speech.”

The Herald: Claire Coutinho said her speech comment on Labour taxing meat was 'a light-hearted moment' – a lie or 'post-truth'?Claire Coutinho said her speech comment on Labour taxing meat was 'a light-hearted moment' – a lie or 'post-truth'? (Image: Newsquest)
I’m partly singling out the Tories here because it’s been their conference this week, but it’s hard not to draw some similarities between what’s happening under Rishi Sunak and what happened to the Republicans under Trump.

That was also comparison made by the First Minister as he left the chamber yesterday afternoon. 

The Tories are a party, he said, “synonymous to the worst excesses that we see even in Trumpian politics in the US”.

“They have made it clear, abundantly clear through background briefing to the press that they will stoke the culture wars. 

“They will look for divisive issues. Not issues of policy or substance, but divisive issues. Many of them fabricated issues. 

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“Issues that aren’t real, that don’t affect people materially day-in and day-out. 

“They will use those issues to inflame tensions, to create divisions and try to exploit those divisions. To me that’s unacceptable.”

Now the SNP are not immune to engaging in culture wars and the odd fabrication here and there, but is the First Minister right?

Has the Tory Party's campaigning become something else?

There’s a general election in the offing, is truth already the first casualty?