I see Nicola Sturgeon has been branding both contestants for the Tory leadership as ‘`hypocrites”. Par for the course, you might say; a childish insult unworthy of further consideration.

But hang on a minute. Is this how low our expectations have sunk? Should we not expect Scotland’s First Minister to deal with whoever becomes Prime Minister in a serious way, based on at least the pretence of mutual respect and willingness, where in Scotland’s interests, to seek common ground?

We are probably two years away from a General Election. Judging by Ms Sturgeon’s choice of language, it seems this time is pre-destined to be wasted on posturing and insults; the possibility of constructive engagement precluded by the necessity to treat the UK Government as an enemy, rather than a partner of necessity.

The highly selective invocation of “democracy” to rationalise a constant focus on the constitution ignores the inconvenient fact that the democracy we currently inhabit has yielded two governments. I don’t like either of them but have to make the best of them until they can be changed.

With such a range of serious challenges pressing in on people’s lives, in Scotland as elsewhere, should there not be a reasonable expectation of our two governments and leaders working together where there are shared responsibilities, whether it is on drug deaths or the cost of living; energy costs or treatment of refugees?

And if so, is there any single advantage for Scotland in Ms Sturgeon calling the person she will encounter as Prime Minister in two months time a “hypocrite” for the sake of a headline, rather than holding her peace? Does it not make sense to seek a civilised personal relationship rather than poison the well from day one by branding him or, more probably her, a “hypocrite”?

If Ms Sturgeon really finds it necessary to maintain a commentary on the Tory contest, which seems a bit undignified in the first place, there is surely plenty to say about them in policy terms without resorting to the language of the political playground.

In the case of Ms Truss, the charge does seem particularly tenuous since it was based on her speech to a Liberal Democrat conference in 1994 when she

expressed support for major constitutional issues to be settled through the use of referenda. Scarcely damning evidence of “hypocrisy”, 28 years later.

If everything Ms Sturgeon has committed to during half of that timescale and subsequently reneged on is attributed to “hypocrisy” then she is very well qualified to recognise the trait she attributes to others. Her only consistency lies in the zealot’s belief that the end always justifies the means.

I happened to hear Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ from Tarland in Aberdeenshire at the weekend which was a pretty depressing affair since, inevitably, it got bogged down in argy-bargy about the constitution. Listeners throughout the UK might have believed that they speak of little else in the highways and by-ways of Tarland.

The Nationalists were represented by Kirsty Blackman, their deputy leader at Westminster, who came across as a rather limited fundamentalist. Nothing else really did matter. And of course, she asserted, last year’s Holyrood elections were fought on the issue of independence and every SNP vote should be counted for that cause.

This disregarded the fact that Ms Sturgeon said the exact opposite. Then, it was about Covid recovery and the votes of people who did not support independence were welcome. Until the moment they were counted, at which point they became … votes for independence.

Some might call that hypocrisy but I will refrain. It was just entirely predictable behaviour which should be learned from rather than pointlessly denounced. And it is certainly a pointer towards what would happen in the event of the Supreme Court charade leading anywhere which, hopefully, it won’t.

The Scottish Government’s case is that they should be allowed to hold a referendum on the grounds that it isn’t really a referendum in the commonly understood sense. Instead, it would just be a kind of big opinion poll which would not bind anyone to anything.

Perhaps to her professional embarrassment, the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain, was sent out to argue that “the referendum would have no prescribed legal consequences arising from its result. It is not, unlike some other referendums, self-executing … the practical effects of an advisory referendum are speculative."

What we do not need to speculate upon is that if this guff is given house room by the Supreme Court, the script will immediately change. A referendum would be presented as what a referendum is normally understood to be. Anyone arguing otherwise by referring back to Ms Bain’s submission would be shouted down by the mob.

It is all a game which debilitates Scotland and lowers our politics to the level at which shouting “hypocrite” passes for leadership. Surely we can do better?

The impetus for devolution arose out of the Thatcher period when a broad consensus emerged that it was a necessary safeguard against the same happening again. When Donald Dewar was referred to as father of devolution, he replied that its true parent was Mrs Thatcher. In other words, the scenario which persuaded many was the one that now exists – a government at Westminster of a different political hue to how Scotland voted.

Sight was lost of this during the early years when the two governments were of approximately the same complexion and a constructive relationship was easy. The far greater test of the Scottish Parliament’s purpose came when divergence occurred and our misfortune is that this has been reduced to a stand-off about constitutional status.

The test of political maturity for Ms Sturgeon and her colleagues lies in making the best of the next two years in Scotland’s interest, rather than using every waking hour to insult, denounce and divide.

Devolution delivered the powers and resources which make this possible. The Scottish Government’s perceives its vested interest to lie in making it seem impossible – no matter who is Prime Minister or which party is in power. Pretending otherwise is … I’m looking for a word … dishonesty.