IT WASN’T much really. Just a short video uploaded to YouTube. Around three minutes or so of an MP talking about his job and his life. However, the MP in question is a Tory. A Scottish Tory. A gay Scottish Tory. A gay Scottish Tory who loves Brexit. In terms of modern Scottish politics, that’s quite a lot to get your head round, although it turns out that the video (and the reaction to it) has quite a lot to teach us about the state of modern politics. Very little of it, I’m afraid to say, is pretty.

In case you missed the clip, it features the MP for Aberdeen South, Ross Thomson, answering four or five quick-fire questions – questions such as “what would you be if you weren’t an MP?”, and “if you were Prime Minister for the day, what law would you introduce?” In reply, Mr Thomson said he didn’t much fancy being PM because it would keep him away from his pet dog Poppy and went on to say that getting a dog had changed his priorities in life. “Honestly, it’s like having a child,” he said. He also spoke about his friendship with the Scottish Labour MP Danielle Rowley and said they had been joking on a flight to London recently about liking Brexit the way they like their men: hard rather than soft.

Dodgy double entendre aside, I think most people would agree that there's absolutely nothing in the video to get your knickers in a twist about, and yet, when The Herald reported its contents, Mr Thomson was called an imbecile and a nutter. He was also accused of making a gaffe like the one he was supposed to have made during his visit to Iraq, which you may still remember. Mr Thomson was photographed larking about in Baghdad, posing on Saddam Hussein’s throne and standing in front of the Victory Arch so it looked like he was holding the giant swords in his hands. It was the warzone equivalent of those pictures of tourists holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa and lots of people seemed to think it was crass and thoughtless and that Ross Thomson should apologise.

I hope he never does. In fact, I hope instead that we can learn some lessons from the increasingly troubling modern reaction to jokey and off-the-cuff discourse and behaviour in public life, particularly from the left of politics. Ross Thomson was clearly talking light-heartedly when he mentioned his pet, and obviously meant no offence when he was photographed in Baghdad. When I was in Afghanistan a few years ago I was photographed larking about in front of a Black Hawk helicopter but everyone knew I wasn’t belittling what was going on in the country; it was just a lighter moment in an otherwise serious trip. So why on earth can’t we all be more reasonable?

I think, perhaps, one of the problems with Ross Thomson is that, although we’re in denial about it, homophobia is almost always just under the surface of public life. Mr Thomson himself has spoken about being the victim of anti-gay abuse online, but what is actually wrong with his comment that having a dog is a bit like having a child? For many gay people, that’s exactly what it is like – a dog, or cat, often forms the core of their family in the way that children do for many heterosexual people, and any animal lover, or gay person, or straight person without children for that matter, knows it.

The other problem exposed by the reaction to Mr Thomson is the modern one we have with humour in public life. Why do we never see politicians having a laugh? Is it because they’ve seen the latest Brexit forecasts, or is it because they know that a picture of them laughing would be put next to a picture of a foodbank and posted on Twitter? Politicians also know what happens when they joke or lark about as Mr Thomson was doing in Iraq – the joke is instantly analysed for possible offence and the politician is asked to say sorry. Hence the tedious predictability of joke, then outrage, then a demand for an apology.

We’ve obviously seen it again and again in recent months. Boris Johnson caused a fuss when he made a joke about women in burkas looking like pillar boxes and yet there was no fuss when Jennifer Saunders wrote a joke for Absolutely Fabulous about Morocco being a nation that has a pillowcase with a slit in it as a national costume. Something similar happened when Michael Gove and Neil Kinnock were caught laughing about the Today programme being like going into Harvey Weinstein’s bedroom. Why did Gove have to apologise and not Kinnock? Why is a joke about burkas ok for Jennifer Saunders but not for Boris Johnson? Could it be that we have a problem when it’s the Tories cracking the jokes?

Certainly, something similar – you might call it #torybad – seems to be going on with Ross Thomson. So much has changed in Scottish politics, with the Tories regaining many seats in the surge of 2017; many of the new young people drawn to the party are also utterly different from the grandee toffs of old – the impressive Glasgow councillor Thomas Kerr for example, whom I met a few months ago. Mr Kerr is 21 and grew up in Shettleston in extremely difficult circumstances. From the age of six, he was also often a carer for his mum because of her drug addiction. And yet he’s a Conservative.

Ross Thomson is another example of the different kind of Tory that has emerged in recent years – he’s young, gay, and from an ordinary background; Conservatives like Mr Thomson are also much more likely to be extremely liberal on a whole range of issues and so are much harder to define by the old rules that Tories are a certain way and socialists another. And yet in Scotland we still seem to be behaving like nothing’s changed. I think the SNP in particular wish it hadn't.

Perhaps the answer for the future is that we all attempt a new era of open-mindedness and liberalism and try to control the urge to condemn and get angry. We should also get to grips with some basic rules for modern public life. Don’t define people solely by their political beliefs. A joke’s a joke. And the Scottish Tories are not what they used to be. Or in the words of another joke once made by a Conservative: calm down dears.