‘STRONG and stable leadership... strong and stable leadership...” Theresa May used the term 14 times during her first General Election stump speech, and incessantly throughout the day. We’ve received the message, Prime Minister.

Or, more exactly, we’ve received the message of her master strategist Lynton Crosby, and he didn’t get to where he is today by underestimating the need to drive a campaign line home, like a nail through the head of the distracted citizenry.

It wasn’t difficult to find on social media the obvious retort to all this. A leader of a party who has plunged these islands into systemic upheaval, presenting herself as a pillar of constancy? But this is an adaptation of what Naomi Klein once called “the shock doctrine” or “disaster capitalism”, and something which Machiavelli or Carl Schmitt would recognise. As a government, unleash the deep forces that cause the chaos; as the same government, present yourself as a force for order, and profit thereby.

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We either collectively wake up to this routine – and one expects Scottish voters to express some awareness on June 8 – or we don’t. But perhaps one way to stay asleep is to be caught in the framing which May’s clumsy line presumes. Which is that demanding, complex times require decisive, steadfast, charismatic “leaders”, herding us all to safe shores.

In my media and organisational work over the last few decades, I have encountered enough self-conscious “leaders” and their “leadership” talk to do me for a lifetime. The worst of it is when CEOs or organisational heads are having to take “necessary measures to protect shareholder value” (which usually equals job cuts, and a speed-up for those remaining).

But around them circles a retinue of coaches and consultants, smoothing their furrowed brows over away-days and therapy sessions, as the bosses struggle to make their enterprise “lean and adaptive” (ie, less well populated).

The one thing we can say for Donald Trump as “President and CEO” is that his autocratic tendencies are nakedly displayed.

He presents a clear target for protest.

Figures such as Richard Branson, or Bill Gates, are as “executive” in their business decisions as anyone, but it’s the humanistic smokescreen (stunts, fun and humour, good works) that blurs our take on their practices. No-drama Obama may be coming to Scotland, no doubt displaying his famous, drop-the-mike sang-froid. But I can’t look at that particular leader and not see the filth of his Tuesday-morning drone strikes, ticking down his “kill-list”.

So, the blather of "leadership development” is much less prevalent in politics than in business. But, in terms of the performance of the leaders it spits out, is the harsh honesty of power preferable?

If you aim to be a politician, the expectation is that you will chuck yourself into the fray at the earliest possibility, grimly build up your scars and bumps, and at some point prove yourself gnarled and battle-ready for parliamentary or ministerial office.

By the time you get to the end of this process – particularly if you have picked up some messianic certitude along the way (hello Mr Blair) – you are probably more of a danger to the general public than its humble servant. Many of the senior politicians that I have met in my life, on all sides, have displayed a serious disconnect with everyday life and conversation, so hollowed out are they by the gyrations, constructions and duplicities of personality that got them there.

I wonder whether this is why May and her advisers have ruled out a televised leaders’ debate? It’s just a human reading, my mirror-neurons firing, but she doesn’t seem a very robust character. Her faltering, stiff, nervous delivery of neo-authoritarian prescriptions is a very odd mixture indeed. I don’t think we can underestimate the amount of psychic distress that top-level politics induces. “It all depends on whether he’s having a good day,” I remember a worried aide to a particularly substantial politician once telling me.

I know that at Westminster there is an All-Party Parliamentary Group on mindfulness that is particularly active and growing steadily. One can only wish its mission – to increase the resources of thoughtfulness, non-reactivity and holistic thinking in parliamentarians – all the Brexitannic best.

The more you think about May’s election tropes – posing her grave authority and stability against the “coalition of chaos” represented by leaders such as Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood or Caroline Lucas – the weirder it gets. Is there actually a tendency in the Brexit majority of rUK, and more generally the Tory cultural hegemony there, that likes to surrender to the smack of strong, familiar leadership?

“Loved you for putting me down in a totally new way”, I sang in 1987, trying to figure out why some working-class voters would usher in the de-industrialising, polarising Thatcher. I’d hoped at the time it was a temporary stupor, awaiting the rise of a smart, culturally savvy, networked left. And I’m still singing this damn song, as yet another Tory PM lays down her law again...

So, has a political culture defined by mass movements, a system of proportional representation, and a Parliament designed and built from scratch created a different quality of political leader in Scotland?

To some small degree. There are still excruciating moments. And I’m as collusive in this as any other political anorak. I often make my appointment on Thursday at noon to watch the biff-bosh of First Minister’s Questions.

The spectacle of a whole bunch of liberal, environmental and social democrats chipping bits off each other about matters of incremental performance... well, that’s devolution for you. But it’s rarely edifying. Watching ScotLab’s Kezia Dugdale work herself into a frenzy about the ill-use of Scottish powers – ones that she has joyfully constrained in the past – is one of the saddest spectacles in national politics. I like the polite, informed insistence of Patrick Harvie; it’s not all that dissimilar to Corbyn’s persona. Nicola Sturgeon is a combination of detailed policy wonk, and that kind of feisty corner-fighter that most Scots will know from their extended families. Ruth Davidson will be known and recognised as that, too. Yet her deep policy tie to Conservative Central Office threatens to subvert her progress as the leading voice of the thrawn of Scotland. But, in general, I actively value what many political pundits actively disdain about the leading voices of the Scottish Parliament. No incandescent debaters, no hulking, brooding giants, no regrettable eccentrics, no-one yet driven to evident sociopathy by the Scottish parliamentary process.

When we finally get this damned statehood question resolved, we will find that we’re all can-do pragmatists and boringly practical people in Scottish politics. This will be a useful sensibility, because there will be a lot of work to get on with.

But I am much happier with a Scottish leadership class that knows how close they are to their citizens – how easily “peebled wi’ stains” – and can also show their fragility and common humanity. James Dornan’s MSP’s article in The National today on his history of mental illness, or indeed Sturgeon’s revelation of her miscarriage, are small examples of how this wee country, as harsh as it can be kind, could frame the expectations of 21st-century politicians quite differently.

How can we bring the “full human” – questioning, in process, wrestling with contradictions – to the job of politics? And not be pulverised for it?

As for the manifestly gentle, idealistic and socialistic Jeremy Corbyn, who seems to have decided to model the next six weeks on a Sanders-like left populism, I hope he beams and waves all the way through the black rain of Lynton Crosby’s blitzkrieg.

I very much doubt he’ll do more than stem the very worst from happening. But let us grant, at least, that there are many other measures of “strength and stability” than those espoused by Theresa May.