IN a perfect world, politicians would be resolutely polite to each other. They’d be role models for us all – highlighting our petty failings and vindictiveness; they’d lead by example – show us how it’s done, and do it with style; we’d admire them, want to emulate them.

Sadly, this isn’t a perfect world – primarily because it’s been forged by politicians. Lady Irony is a funny old dame. Rather, politicians mostly represent the worst of us. They’re mirrors of everything we aspire not to be; they occupy, largely, a loathsome stretch on the human line, and only a maniac would want to join their ranks.

So when it comes to politicians slagging each other off, it’s best not to let one’s underpants dance a jig. This is what they do. They insult, bully, intimidate, harass, rabble rouse, lie, cheat, feather their nests, line their pockets, look after their pals, say to hell with the rest of us, engage in monumental acts of gross hypocrisy, and preen and pose in order to satisfy the vast, dark and cold universe of their narcissistic ego. It would be lovely to find an exception to this rule – at least among the ranks of today’s still living and active politicians – but there’s just too many haystacks and so very few lonely needles out there.

With that in mind, then, it’s not the insult directed towards Nicola Sturgeon by Liz Truss, the lead act in the circus of horrors that’s the Tory leadership contest, which should worry or upset anyone, it’s the hint her slur gives of what lies in store for Scotland, and thus, by extension, Scottish politics and the Scottish people. For Tories have this country in their sights.

Many ordinary folk were riled by Truss’s utterly déclassé comments that Sturgeon is an “attention-seeker” who’s best ignored. Yes, it’s the toxic stylings of a high school mean girl; yes, it’s an ugly ad hominem, completely unnecessary and tawdry swipe – but sadly, the First Minister has engaged in ad hominem attacks herself. She’s unleashed more than a few harsh barbs about Boris Johnson.

The thing is, when it comes to Sturgeon’s pops at Johnson, I agree with every word. But then I’m not a political leader who should be engaging with other leaders in a respectful manner. It doesn’t matter a jot if some big-gobbed Glasgow journalist calls Johnson a racist or dictator, nor does it matter if some big-gobbed London journalist calls Sturgeon an attention-seeker. We’re just people, like you. We aren’t publicly-funded public servants. Our political class, though, has abnegated the duty to behave more responsibly than ordinary citizens – and so this is the world they’ve created: one of insult and dirt. You made your bed, now lie in it, as they say.

The real nub – the real worry – around Truss’s comments is that they signal the intention to put Scotland front and centre in the Tory Culture Wars. The Culture Wars have served the Tories well – and it’s all part and parcel of the panting English nationalism that’s hallowed out Conservatism. It was inevitable Scotland would be set up as Tory England’s next bogeyman. After all, they’ve already worked their way through imaginary Marxists, green campaigners, trans folk, refugees, immigrants, anti-racists, judges and lawyers, generic lefties, students and academics – they’ve even purged the ‘saboteur remainers’ in their own mad ranks. The only thing left is a spot of dependable Jock-bashing.

The Tory’s truly are snowflakes. Anyone who doesn’t agree with their weird mindset – a fantasy of pith helmets and bowler hats, still stuck somewhere in the 1920s with Britannia ruling the waves – is shouted down and cancelled. And what’s more likely to trigger thin-skinned Tories than some uppity Scots saying they’ve had it with England being top dog?

You see, British politics is English politics, and many folk in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales just don’t like that. This state of affairs, I’m afraid, really gets the goat of the current iteration of the modern Tory, wrapped as they are in Union Jacks, deification of the monarchy and, frankly, a rather dangerous ‘Britain First’ radicalism. I use the term Britain First in the Trumpian sense, not as a reference to the far right UK party.

Whether the ludicrous Truss or the feeble Rishi Sunak make it to power is really irrelevant when it comes to how Scotland will be turned into the Tory government’s whipping boy.

And, please, you don’t need to support the SNP, love Sturgeon or back independence to realise that this will be bad. A Tory culture war against the Scottish Government will, if you’re unionist, only build support for independence and the SNP. Unionists should want friendly accommodation, not childish insults. We’ve already seen some rare sensible Conservatives make that point. Most, though, just rah-rah for Truss – like the gloating Tory crowd in the TV studio when she deployed her sorority sneers.

Nationalists, SNP members and the wider Yes movement now have licence to hurl any insult they like at Tories thanks to Truss. And so the culture war will become an arms race over who can be the most stupid and insulting.

If anyone thinks this will benefit Scotland they need their head examined. It’ll only deepen the zombified state of the nation. The constitutional question will remain unresolved, the SNP will be fortified and entrenched, and English Tories will likewise fortify and entrench. Culture wars serve only politicians, not the people. Those who’d like to see Scotland move on and the country governed well – whether they’re Yes or No – better just learn to suck it up.

Politics should be about the people handing the temporary honour of managing our lives well to representatives who lead in an exemplary fashion. That notion is as dead as Debenhams. Today, politics is about politicians, not us. Yet they demand our respect, and ask for pity when they’re harassed. If they cannot respect each other, if they harass one another – why should we be better than them? Clearly, though, most of us are better than them, so perhaps we should be the role models. What’s that expression: when they go low, we go higher?