PERHAPS there comes a point during the lifetime of a long-standing political administration when its ministers begin to assume they’re unassailable. There was more than a whiff of this during the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. It’s as though, having checked to see that the coast is clear and that there is not even a remote prospect of being caught, that they feel they can drop the pretence.

Previously, they might at least have paid heed to the timing of policy announcements or considered how they might be viewed by the wider electorate. “Does this seem callous? Will we be slaughtered for appearing not to care?”

Yet, something in the tone and bearing of assorted Tory ministers at Manchester seemed to suggest that they had travelled well beyond the foothills of basic, human compassion. It was evident in Priti Patel’s speech that she and her party are now beholden to a new moral compass where a tone of defiance is no longer considered sufficient.

You now have to appear gleeful; to look as though you enjoy inflicting pain. Thus, she exulted in the end of free movement and boasted that she would be tireless in pursuing all means of turning back small boats in the English Channel, no matter the cost in human suffering.

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Once, not even a Tory would question the impulse to defend asylum-seekers in their quest to reach Britain. This often, after all, is a country whose persistent looting of their homelands and meddling in their affairs had caused them to flee. Ms Patel now believes that even advocating for these poor scraps of humanity is immoral.

The inversion of what we once thought moral was maintained in Boris Johnson’s speech: that it was immigration that must be blamed for low wages and not the refusal of cash-rich companies and their billionaire owners to pay their workers properly. Thus the party of the family is the one which undermines it. For, how can you think of building a household and perhaps having children when there are no homes within reach of your scant and uncertain wages? And when withdrawing a modest £20 uplift will force many to choose between eating and heating?

All of this, of course, plays to the social agenda of a Scottish Government which seeks to portray kindness and compassion. We might even forgive the ineptitude of its ministers, apparent in their chaotic health and social care delivery or the school exams fiasco. At least their hearts are in the right place.

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Lately though, it’s become clear that Nicola Sturgeon’s administration is afflicted by the entitled complacency of the Johnson regime, and for the same reasons: after 14 years in power the SNP are even more invulnerable than the UK Tories. This has hardened their hearts too. At least the Tories are good to their own. In Scotland, the SNP throw you to the wolves if you’re not considered to be unquestioning in your obeisance to Nicola Sturgeon. This party too has lost its moral compass.

This was evident in a re-tweet by Kirsty Blackman, one of its most senior politicians and true disciple of the Sturgeon creed. Thus she had endorsed a call for her far more able and successful colleague Joanna Cherry to be expelled from the party for expressing transphobic views. Belonging to a party with a messianic complex and which now believes itself infallible, Ms Blackman failed to consider its consequences and was forced to withdraw her injudicious re-tweet. Yet, in doing so she offered one of those non-apology apologies which make you wonder if she thinks we’re all stupid.

It looked like the start of a well-orchestrated and sanctioned campaign. This was given credence by a slew of well-kent SNP desperadoes piling in, eager to seek favour in their pitiful quest to access life-changing salaries at Westminster and Holyrood.

Ms Blackman must be aware that her colleague has been subject to four years of intimidation for defending those women’s rights currently threatened by some proposals in the Gender Recognition Act. This culminated in her being threatened with serious sexual assault earlier this year by a former party member who was charged and sentenced for the crime. His threats of sexual violence came just a few days after Nicola Sturgeon had made an extraordinary video denouncing transphobia in the party.

Then, as now, an insidious and orchestrated campaign targeting feminists for seeking to protect their sex-based rights was well underway. Simply espousing such rights in a reasonable manner is now considered sufficient in the eyes of Ms Blackman – and many others in the SNP – to be guilty of transphobia.

Ms Blackman partly owes her prominence in public life to a lifetime of campaigning for women’s sex-based rights by people like Joanna Cherry. To accuse Ms Cherry and some of her fellow campaigners of transphobia merely for being true to those principals is a lie and it’s a well-rehearsed lie that now threatens to disfigure this party.

It’s now reached a point where its many members who agree with Ms Cherry, including those who currently occupy high offices of state, must come out from behind private messages of sympathy and nail this wickedness publicly.

In this week, of all weeks, Ms Blackman’s intervention was reckless and a repudiation of the duty of care the public expects politicians to have for each other in the disposal of their public duties.

It’s astonishing too that numerous complaints by Ms Cherry and several other party members about bullying and intimidation in the workplace remain un-investigated and often ignored by this party which endlessly proclaims its moral righteousness. It’s understood that some of these relate to the conduct of Ms Blackman herself and Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP’s Westminster group of MPs towards Ms Cherry.

One of the main attractions of an independent Scotland is a withdrawal from the sewer that runs beneath the Westminster Tories. Another attraction is this: that it provides an opportunity to ensure that the present high command of the SNP never again get to spit poison at women who seek to uphold the truth.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.