“CAREFULLY watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they will become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”

One of the better observations of one Mahatma Gandhi. Rooted as they are in many ancient thoughts across almost all religions.

They could not be more apposite for affairs of the world at the moment. They are important for all of us, no matter what our responsibilities and role in life. Whether we parent or are in any relationship, whether we manage or are employed. Whether we lead and bear the responsibility for influencing others. It is a rule of life worth remembering: thoughts become deeds, deeds become habits, habits become values which in turn define us.

We spend so much of our time handling the immediacy of thought and deed in ourselves and those around us, we can miss the underlying shifts in habit and values that truly determine the course of where we are headed both as individuals and collectively.

This has been brought to home for me for many months now watching the conduct of leaders across the world but especially in the United States and Kingdom which are supposed to set democratic examples to the world. “Leaders of the free world”, easy phrase and sounds impressive. But the thoughts that are defining values and therefore futures have rarely plummeted the dispiriting depths of the moment.

Donald Trump makes George W Bush seem an intellectual giant. Theresa May and the candidates for her succession make Sir John Major appear a political titan in comparison, a statesman of depth and values that transcend party. Much I disagree with him on, of course, but listening to him this week the contrast between his and the current generation of UK leadership and Conservatism could not be starker or more depressing.

The agenda in this leadership contest has been set by two men; Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.

Boris Johnson is dancing to a Farage tune but has one eye on the approval of the President of the country of his birth.

There are many delusions at play but the first is that the European Union don’t hear him when he speaks in Britain. He thinks we need to pretend both that we will leave at the end of October no matter what, even with the No Deal that would costs Scottish taxpayers alone £8 billion per year on UK Treasury estimates. This, you see, will frighten the Europeans into believing he is mad enough and bad enough.

He also refuses to rule out by-passing Parliament to achieve this. Proroguing is the technical term for bringing the session to an end. The Queen would need to approve, putting the monarch’s constitutional position under immense pressure.

Having to rely on an unelected institution to overturn an undemocratic attack on a democratic institution from an elected leader would make the best brains boil. An utterly invidious concept. John Major said he would take it to a review of the judiciary if it happened.

With no written constitution to rely on we are largely making all of this up in the Mother of Parliaments. This hasn’t happened since the reign of Charles I in the 1640s and any cursory examination of the history of that period would make any civilised person wince.

This is where we have got to.

The one thing I think Jeremy Hunt has got remotely correct in this whole sorry mess is pointing out the one talent of Johnson is to make people laugh and forget what is actually being said and done.

So it is we are to be assured that Boris is just making a big funny, that while he doesn’t really mean it he needs to try and string Europe along. OK then, we can all relax.

Only what happens when it turns out he did really mean it all along? Very few of the worst tinpot leaders have come to power on the back of a “Despot and Dictatorship Manifesto”, no elections won on “new vision for the oppression of you all”. Rather they slowly dupe the people over time until choice has disappeared and absolute power resides in the worst of hands.

John Major would appear to believe that we run these risks at present and who can blame him?

On Brexit there is no plan. Neither “choice” in this tawdry Tory contest has anything resembling a plan. We may scoff and then cry at the excesses of Donald Trump. But this is exactly the image Britain is creating for itself in the world now.

The thoughts and words of our incoming leader are dissembling and risky. His actions will follow and they could be habit forming just as they are in the White House. Will we let them define the values of our country for the next generation? Well, not in my name. No way.

Just because Hunt is not Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous.

PART of me is reluctant to spend any of this column on Jeremy Hunt. His campaign has been so ineffective it seems unlikely he will garner much support from his own party members who see him as unsound on the Brexit question and many others. They are not representative of the people of the UK and certainly not Scotland.

His big advantage for most reasonable people looking on is that he is not Boris Johnson. That is, to be fair, a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a good Prime Minister. On that I congratulate Mr Hunt.

But examine his thoughts, words AND deeds in any detail, subject him to any scrutiny and he seems like a lesser spotted Johnson with sharper hair.

He was quick, this week, to condemn the President’s attack on the UK Ambassador to Washington DC Kim Darroch. Quicker still to attack Boris Johnson in debate for refusing to rule out firing him. Quite right too. Such was the impossibility of Darroch’s public position given the likely identity of the next PM he promptly resigned. Another low in an era of lows for the UK governing system. Many other senior diplomats and civil servants are considering their futures, actively.

Our civil servants, foreign and domestic, do a pretty outstanding job given the grim quality of their politicians and brief. We get into an extremely dangerous place when we politicise them.

And yet what did Jeremy Hunt think, say and do as recently as one month ago? Precisely the sort of politicisation he condemns the President for. Because he doesn’t agree with our First Minister he has over-turned two decades of policy and practise and withdrawn FCO support for travelling Scottish Ministers.

Not Welsh or Northern Irish ones, no just Scottish. Why? Because it appealed to the extremist party membership base in an internal election. Just the sort of conduct he criticises Johnson for.

And then we have his economic policy which, he said in this week’s debate, he is borrowing from the “success” of Donald Trump.

Just as economists everywhere else are saying the steroids hit to the US economy from Trump’s tax giveaway will evaporate, now Hunt wishes to ape it. He is a businessman you see, an entrepreneur.

In the last decade in the UK the average after tax and inflation wage or salary for the average Briton has been flat or falling. A lost decade. Meanwhile corporate profits have risen 44%. This ill division of the proceeds of globalisation and growth is part of what explains the lack of consent, trust and support for the global system at present. Hence Brexit, hence Trump, hence Farage.

And yet Hunt’s solution is to prioritise the winners over the losers because “it has worked for Trump”.

And then finally we have Hunt’s rightful condemnation of Johnson’s threat to by-pass Parliament. And yet weeks ago Hunt said he would “never” listen to the Scottish Parliament’s will because it was “full of nationalists”.

Because of his blood (Welsh and Irish) and holiday experience (in Scotland) voters here will never have the right to choose an alternative to this global embarrassment under a Hunt Premiership.

So on these three specific areas of of thought, word and deed is there really much distance between Mr Hunt and Messers Johnson, Farage and Trump? If there is I can’t see it. He does seem so much nicer though.