THE media, having no sense of irony, greeted Mhairi Black’s announcement that she was not intending to stand again for Westminster because of its toxic culture, with a heavy dose of – you guessed it – toxic culture in which the cause of the problem was ignored but the victim attacked with gusto.

I am not a believer in a golden age of polite debate. Passion is essential in order to drive change and disagreement is at the heart of politics. Better that than bloodless platitudes and far better than the shedding of actual blood.

But debate should be a contention of ideas, not just of harsh words.

After all, what politicians are trying to do is to showcase their vision in order to attract popular backing for it.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black's departure is an indictment of our politics

It is a truism that shouting, abusing and speaking over others turns off, rather than attracts, support – and regrettably, there is no-one in politics today who hasn’t made that mistake.

I have certainly done so.

Yet more than that is wrong at Westminster – and Holyrood

The desire to wound which was once incidental has become paramount and dogmatism is firmly entrenched. Vastly overblown language is not the exception but the rule making every issue one of life or death.

Defeating your rivals isn’t enough. You have to destroy them, as much personally as politically.Women politicians undoubtedly get the worst of it, but it impacts on men too.

The National: SNP MP Mhairi Black addresses the SNP National conference at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre in October

Moreover, taking a basic lesson from Political Propaganda 101, those most guilty spend their time accusing others – inevitably the SNP in government – of using such tactics and the client journalists of our media cheer them on, having largely abandoned any pretence of impartiality or even accuracy.

The ease and licence of social media is one of the problems

Some of the nastiness I also attribute to the palpable fear of the SNP and independence which in the last few months has led to the most extraordinary and sustained assault upon any political party I have ever seen.

Of course, the SNP have suffered some self-inflicted wounds, but their effect has been exaggerated by those desperate to settle old scores and outlaw the very mention of independence for at least a generation.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black revives iconic tweet for Threads debut

There are also other things in play and one of them lies in the archaic assumption that Black – and anyone else elected to Parliament – should once seated, seek to stay there for life. This very Westminster, old boys’ club view of politics has, unfortunately, also infected Holyrood, which should be a place dedicated to thinking differently.

The view that once elected you would wish to stay in any parliament until you retire or are chucked out is an old-fashioned destructive way of looking at any job let alone an elected and privileged position in a key institution that needs a constant churn of ideas.

In reality, most people entering the labour market in the last decade will have at least half a dozen jobs before they retire. The majority of those entering it now will at some stage do jobs that presently do not even exist.

Some changes from the way things are done on the banks of the Thames were put in place by the first Bureau of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

READ MORE: Stephen Flynn criticises 'dregs of society who attack' Mhairi Black

I was on it, and we firmly rejected the idea of robes for the Presiding Officer and a procession with the mace amongst other imitations.

But as Westminster had laid the detailed groundwork for how Holyrood was to work, much better modern practice elsewhere was simply ignored.

For example, in some Caribbean parliaments the presiding officer comes from outside politics and is a truly independent voice.

In other countries there are term limits, with some offices unable to be held for more than a legislatively enshrined period of time.

The National: holyrood.jpg-pwrt3.jpg

The idea of having non-MSPs as members of parliamentary committees, of giving the power to initiate legislation to citizens, and resourcing backbenchers to do the same were other issues that needed to be discussed.

At Holyrood however such things were ignored and further change has been slow in coming. Tricia Marwick was interested but subsequent presiding officers have merely tinkered, refusing to take forward even some newer practices at Westminster such as developing an experienced cadre of paid committee chairs elected by parliamentarians rather than imposed by party whips.

Old-fashioned attitudes to work and to the business of politics make the institutions and those in them entitled, arrogant and defensive.

READ MORE: Why did Mhairi Black rally troops for an election she won’t stand in?

George Foulkes, to use an example from this week’s political charades, has been a member of one legislature or another for a virtually unbroken 44 years – and it shows.

Black would have to serve until 2059 to match that total, and I am sure she finds that prospect as ridiculous and unattractive as I would, not least given the personal sacrifices that are made by those who work away from home for long periods and whose profession is also their hobby, meaning that they are expected to be available at all hours.

Establishing institutions for an independent Scotland allows us to put in place structures better than those we are leaving.

We should stop just assuming that our Parliament will operate along current lines

Instead think of how we could enshrine in a new constitution a fresh way of doing democracy.

Allowing our representatives to have a life as well as a career, and demolishing the magic circle of insider professional politics won’t provide all the answers to the toxicity of the current debates.

But doing things differently in a truly independent parliament would help us to establish the modern positive and accessible democracy we need in order to create a modern, positive and outward-looking country.

It would also be an exemplar for other areas in which we have been too willing to accept a change in the colour of the post boxes, as they used to say in Ireland, as being adequate proof of a fresh start.