HOW do you feel about independence supporters burning copies of the Act of Union on Bonfire Night? Should they be praised for taking a symbolic stand, or criticised for their inflammatory stunt? Have your say by taking part in our exclusive poll …

Just kidding. There is no poll. But if there was, what would the results demonstrate? Do the majority of National readers, let alone the majority of Scottish citizens, have a strong opinion on the matter?

I imagine many are indifferent, or have nuanced positions. Some may instinctually oppose the symbolic burning of anything, be it reading material or effigies of human beings. Others may approve of the action but regret that it was not carried out on a bigger scale. Opinions about the action may be inseparable from those about Salvo, the campaign group that led it. The action may, of course, have inspired some to take their first look at the group’s website.

READ MORE: Row after independence activists burn copies of Act of Union on Bonfire Night

It’s also possible to support the spirit of any given political action while doubting its effectiveness. Many committed independence supporters feel buoyed and inspired by Yes marches and rallies while acknowledging that the work to convert the Nos and don’t-knows must take place on the doorsteps, in the high streets and via conversations with family, friends and acquaintances. A poorly attended rally risks having a demoralising effect; a well-attended one may spark a fresh round of the debate about whether pro-indy politicians should have attended.

Pete Wishart MP (below) certainly cannot be accused of sitting on the fence, or being a slave to the maxim that if one has nothing nice to say, one should say nothing at all. Commenting on Saturday night’s activities, he told The Courier: “I have never seen anything like it. It is sinister and there is no democratic debate for burning anything like that. It is incredibly irresponsible.”

The National: Pete Wishart in the House of Commons

If Wishart truly has never seen anything like this, he really does need to get out of his Westminster office more. I’ve been watching people symbolically burning things since John Craven was the presenter of BBC’s Newsround on Children’s BBC – and a document definitely doesn’t rank among the most sinister. the MP believes the move is “irresponsible” because of how it will affect perceptions of the Yes movement.

“This was done in the name of colonial oppression and the people of Scotland don’t believe they are colonised, they would think you are mad or just laugh at that,” asserted Wishart. “People are observing the language and the activity we use and when they see stuff like that they think the whole independence movement is nuts and doesn’t talk to their experience.”

It’s a bold move for Wishart to assert that folk think anyone else is nuts or behaving in an off-putting manner. In today's letters section, reader John Baird of Largs helpfully collates some of the greatest hits from the Perth and North Perthshire MP’s social media use, including referring to No voters as “nawbags” and Unionist council election candidates as “wanks”. It was with considerable trepidation that I fact-checked the latter. My search history may never recover.

Wishart has acknowledged that he sometimes gets this “disastrously wrong” on social media, but this fleeting intrusion of self-awareness has not stopped him from continuing to tweet like a twat on occasion. On Sunday alone, he felt the need to weigh in 10 times, including to share the Courier article that was hooked on his own comments (tweeted the previous day) about the Act-burning exercise. If he truly believes that action was harmful to the independence movement, one might reasonably ask why he insisted on drawing attention to it rather than spending the day of rest doing literally anything else.

With Twitter currently in turmoil and public figures seeking a new online space to call home before all hell breaks loose (or perhaps more significantly, before charges are imposed for the retention of their precious blue ticks of verification), now seems a good time for political parties to have a word with their representatives about their social media use, and whether it is adding value, contributing to debate or just causing embarrassment. Politicians need to be honest with themselves about whether Twitter popularity has become an end in itself, rather than a means by which to help to make the world a better place.

READ MORE: Top Scottish accounts flock to alternative Twitter-style social media

Elected members are certainly not alone in letting their worst narcissistic and tribal tendencies guide their social media output, but it’s safe to say Scotland was not holding its breath waiting for Pete Wishart to weigh in on whether burning the Act of Union was OK. No-one was insisting “Wishart must condemn”. But it seems the temptation to grab those crumbs of attention was just too strong. Why? Surely not the need to live up to the title of “Parliamentary Tweeter of the year”, proudly included in his Twitter biography despite this dubious honour dating back to 2015?

Amid Elon Musk’s brazen attempts to influence today’s US midterm elections, the implosion of Twitter is cause for serious concern. But the departure of ego-driven, playground politicians would be no great loss.