WE saw the best and worst of Gordon Brown last week. As the world’s richest nations gathered for the G7 summit in Cornwall, the former UK prime minister urged them to use their wealth to vaccinate the world’s poorest. It’s a message he’s been consistently delivering for most of this year.

In an article for the Financial Times last month, he wrote: “By failing to ramp up vaccination more rapidly, we are dividing the world between the rich and vaccinated who will live, and the poor and unvaccinated who risk dying. It is now time for the politics to catch up with the science. The one sure way of maximising vaccine production and immunising the world is for the richest countries to underwrite the costs incurred by the poorest.”

It was everything you’d expect from a former Labour Party leader: highlighting economic injustice and calling for redistributive measures to save lives in the Third World.

A few days later, Brown couldn’t help himself as he returned to another of his pet themes: sowing fear and uncertainty around the question of Scottish independence. “In this interdependent world,” he said, “there is no future in nations that are neighbouring nations fighting each other and I fear 50 years of conflict between Scotland and England if we don’t get these problems sorted out.”

Brown has form in this area.

READ MORE: Gordon Brown claims indy debate could spark '50 years Scotland-England conflict'

It was most grievously evident during the first independence referendum campaign when he began making a series of increasingly fevered claims about what might happen if Scotland voted Yes. As his successor in 10 Downing Street, David Cameron, was admitting that Scotland could make a success of independence, Brown was busy trying to scare Scotland’s elderly people with claims about how independence would damage the NHS and threaten pension provision.

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Cameron was, for the most part, honest in making the case for the Union. Brown less so. Repeatedly, he urged us to preserve the Union as the only means of remaining within the EU.

These declarations were risible and exaggerated and little more than that. Brown seems to have occupied this territory as a desperate means of maintaining political relevance almost a decade after his three-year tenure in Downing Street ended in failure. His statement about 50 years of conflict between Scotland and England is much more irresponsible.

By deploying such feral imagery he risks bringing about the outcome he says he wants to avoid. When he cooks up nonsense like this, it simply undermines all his other messages. How can people be expected to attach any great import to his messages around social justice if he honestly thinks that Scotland and England exist in a state of mutual aggression?

This is getting to be dangerous. It supports a notion about some of the more untethered individuals in his quack Unionist group, Our Scottish Future; that they almost wish for their most febrile and apocalyptic pronouncements to come true so they can claim the credit for predicting it.

Brown is an intelligent and, occasionally, inspiring character when he talks about social justice and inequality. He can’t actually believe England and Scotland are presently “fighting” each other and in a permanent state of “conflict” just because the constitutional question remains unresolved.

As such, you’re left to conclude that this is more about Brown’s narcissism, which was manifest by his years of conflict with Tony Blair as they became embroiled in a war of entitlement and power.

During the decade when Blair and Brown occupied the two most powerful offices in the land, we all fondly believed that each was focused entirely on managing the country and keeping the economy lashed to its moorings. It’s since become evident that, for the greater part of those 10 years, Blair was engaged in a constant struggle to keep his increasingly power-crazed chancellor at bay.

The National: Former Prime Ministers Gordon Brown, left, and Tony Blair, right. Brown, who voted for the invasion of Iraq of 2003, is now claiming the UK was 'misled' on the case for war Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

IT seems now that the main opposition to Blair at this time wasn’t being provided by the Tories but by the man who lived next door. It was a betrayal of the British voters to equal the excesses of entitlement produced by the Boris Johnson administration.

Brown’s sweaty pronouncements about relations between Scots and English is also characteristic of something else. They insult the intelligence of ordinary Yes and No voters and betray an attitude of disdain by some in the political classes towards real working people. So disconnected have they become from the people who fund their gilded lifestyles that they consider them to be incapable of reasonable and civilised behaviour.

Does Gordon Brown genuinely believe that ordinary Yes and No voters on either side of the Border can’t remain true to their sincerely held beliefs without being aggressive and violent?

Perhaps he’s become so desperate to remain in the public gaze that he really does think this. Perhaps this is what happens when powerful people surround themselves with fluffers and panderers, all so eager to seek preferment and the material benefits it confers that none risks jeopardising it by telling the sun king to behave himself and stop talking rubbish.

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I suspect, though, that there is something more sinister afoot here. Brown’s predictions of endless conflict re-inforce the fall-back narrative of many influential Unionists: that the independence campaign is essentially nasty and divisive and that in Scotland it’s chiefly characterised by feelings of anti-Englishness.

Every isolated incident indicating unpleasantness is deliberately twisted and distorted into something false and misleading: that the entire Yes campaign is built on anti-English sentiment.

It’s the deliberate defamation of a movement and the millions who are part of it. It discounts the fact that the 450,000 English people who live in Scotland are welcome here and valued. Worse, it sends out a very damaging message to those people and their families. “You might not be entirely safe here in the years ahead.”

It also has the potential to damage Scotland’s economy by suggesting to English people that Scotland is best avoided if they’re thinking of settling here or taking a holiday here. It paints a picture of an uncivilised country whose people can’t be trusted to behave reasonably while holding opposite views on independence. Yet, this is the country that Gordon Brown says he loves. He claims to be proud of this Scotland.

It also ignores the reality of the hundreds of thousands of Scots who feel equally comfortable in England. The chief components of our relationships with English people are mutual respect reinforced by actual affection and the ties of kinship and friendship. It really can’t proceed in any other way. And nor will this change following independence.