I TOOK part in a radio discussion this week in which a Scottish Tory councillor suggested the greatest threats in UK politics seemed to be sixteen year olds being allowed to vote in general elections, EU citizens getting the vote in those same elections, and the risk of a coalition government.

The message appeared to be, vote Tory to make sure democracy was denied.That is an idea strongly reinforced by the messaging from the National Conservative conference held in London this week, where it seems that everything but the truth was on display. So, loving your country was fine, so long as it was England.

And being anti-woke was fine, because that apparently was also about loving your country if only you could ignore that the sentiment was also racist, homophobic, misogynistic, elitist and anti-democratic too.

At the same conference, Jacob Rees Mogg even admitted that the voter ID legislation that he had actively supported when a minister was a deliberate act by the Tories to gerrymander the vote.

They had presumed it would exclude the young. As it turned out it appeared to have excluded the old from voting and had backfired on them. As a political economist it is depressing to watch this. Political economy is all about the study of the use of power to bias the allocation of resources in society.

What the Tories are obviously trying to do is to use whatever little power that they have left to them at the fag-end of this parliament to shift election results in their favour. They have tried, and by Rees Mogg’s own admission, failed at rigging the vote (so far).

They now want to deny the vote to those for whom the future of this country matters, including young people perfectly capable of making a decision on their future and those EU citizens with a long-term commitment to living here, and who are paying our taxes to do so.

Their fear is very obviously that they might not vote Tory (after all, who would?). And then in desperation they are seeking votes on the basis of the promotion of fear, which is the last resort of the scoundrel. The promotion of hate, including of those who are so proud of their own country (as the Tories say it is only right that people do) that they want to actually run it themselves, is the basis of the most unsustainable political offering of all time.

That’s because this is a form of politics that is not for anything but is instead set against everything, because anyone but a Tory is to be feared. Bizarrely, that fear should extend, in the Tory’s view, to the threat of coalition government. This is despite the fact that of the last thirteen long years of Tory rule more than seven years, or well over half that period, have seen coalition government.

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For five years the Tories were in formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats. From 2017 to 2019 they only governed with the active support of the Democratic Unionists, which cost them dearly in terms of additional financial support for Northern Ireland.

As ever, the very thing the Tories would have us fear is something they are more than happy to do. That is precisely why this electoral strategy on their part, which can at best be called the promotion of hatred, is such a bad policy for them.

Leave aside the straightforward antisocial and deeply prejudiced nastiness of much of what has been said by Tories at their far-right fringe conferences over the last week or so. They have said those things because they know that they will, unfortunately, have appeal for some.

Instead, just appreciate that irrational dislike of almost everything is not a basis for viable policy creation.

Brexit is the living proof of that. Nigel Farage admitted that Brexit has not worked on the BBC’s Newsnight programme this week. He did, of course, claim that this was because it has not been done properly. That, though, is not true. It has just proved impossible to, for example, remove all EU law introduced since 1973 and leave anything close to a functioning state.

It was madness to ever think otherwise.And yet it is still more unhinged opposition to absolutely everything that they can think of not to like that is the sole basis of the Tory offering now. They, no doubt, think that Scotland offers them opportunity for that right now. Every other party seems to think problems in the SNP provide them with the chance to win seats.

They will no doubt try to gain those seats on the basis of their dislike of Scotland, just as it seems the LibDems and Labour will. All of them make clear that they have complete contempt for those who think it might be a country, when glaringly obviously it is.But that places a big responsibility on the SNP and others who believe in Scotland. Their job is it not to pragmatically manage the country.

No one defeated hate with pragmatism. The need for now is to positively promote a love for what there is that is good in Scotland that independence alone will encourage.

When looking at political economy the job is to counter the lure of false arguments and negativity with the attraction of the truth and reasonable promises based upon it.

Can Scottish politics rise to that challenge?