NEVER mind the Tedious Twosome trying to outdo one another as Hammer of the Scots. It’s what they do.

Never mind Liz Truss insisting she will never, ever let “our” family of nations be split up. It’s what all senior Tories say.

Never mind Rishi Sunak’s “socialist” schtick falling apart as he attacked Holyrood for spending 50% more on welfare payments.

What world does he live in? The Scottish Child Payment is a literal lifesaver – and the Scottish Conservatives called for it to be doubled in last year’s Holyrood elections.

Never mind the confrontation between some Yessers and the BBC’s James Cook. Better to learn now, before another campaign, that no BBC grievances are ever resolved by screaming at staff.

The late, great Jimmy Reid always issued the same advice – keep the heid. When protests are non-confrontational, the story is them – Boris skulking out Bute House by the back door.

When protests are angry, the story is us – and not in a good way. It doesn’t matter whether that’s fair or not – it’s how it is.

Never mind the wooden repetition of “once in a generation” by Liz Truss, who “will not allow” another indyref or Rishi Sunak’s “barmy” dismissal of Scottish democracy.Never mind all of that – annoying, one-sided and utterly predictable.

READ MORE: Calls for Scottish independence code of conduct after Perth hustings protests

Nope, the truly astonishing and scary thing about the Perth hustings was not the leadership candidates – it was the Tory crowd. We know they hate independence – but their questions and reactions suggest they hate the devolved Scottish Parliament even more.

How will you force the Scottish Government to build new nuclear power stations? How will you stop the Scottish Government spending money “illegally” on reserved issues?

Then roars of support for forcing through Freeports, forcing Holyrood to produce performance data that’s “directly comparable with England and Wales”, and above all for challenging Nicola Sturgeon’s record on education, health, ferries and trains – not via Douglas Ross in Holyrood (who got simpering name checks from each candidate but a lukewarm response from the crowd) but directly via challenges from Westminster.

The hustings moderator, STV’s estimable Colin Mackay, wasn’t just booed for pressing candidates on indyref2, but for raising any obstacles to total London diktat that arise from the devolution settlement. Y’know the one London signed, sealed and delivered.

Mackay caught Truss unguarded on nuclear power, by asking how she’d get round the fact that Holyrood controls planning and has used those powers (since Westminster controls energy) to stop new plants north of the border because our phenomenal tidal and hydro resources need only consistent investment to replace most of our old nuclear baseload supply.

How would Truss deal with that, asked Mackay – persuade Nicola Sturgeon, force her or just ignore her?

Answer came there none. But Mackay was roundly booed for even mentioning the constraints on absolute prime ministerial power that come with devolution.

The National: Protestors outside the Tory party leadership hustings in PerthProtestors outside the Tory party leadership hustings in Perth

Now to be fair, some Tories inside the Perth Concert Hall did ask some relatively big-hearted questions about foreign aid and “inhumane” Rwanda deportations.

But both were heartily booed by the right-wing crowd, which got more vocal and frenzied as candidates reeled off lists of supposed Scottish Government failings, some fair enough (ferries), others quite ridiculous (health), and all nothing whatsoever to do with the next prime minister.

And therein lies the rub. Scottish Tories – who never wanted a devolved parliament in the first place – are absolutely sick of being marginalised here while their party rules the roost at Westminster.

There they have an 80-ish seat majority. At Holyrood they are stuck in third place behind a wobbly Scottish Labour. And at the last General Election they won just six out of 59 seats. Scottish Tories are basically, repeatedly and democratically a beaten party. That’s gotta hurt.

So, it looks as if they’ve given up on their own “top team” of Alister Jack and Douglas Ross and want big-league London players to wade in and jolly well sort it all out. Dream on.

READ MORE: I asked Tory members in Perth about their priorities. The answers were concerning

But it might be worse than that. Not being able to win, Scottish Tories may also want to scrap the board, rules and the whole darned Holyrood game.

Now you might think bring it on – or so what? How much threat do ten thousand Conservative party members pose in a country of 5.4 million generally non-Conservative people?

The danger lies in the anti-democratic, devolution-denying tendencies sitting just below the surface of most questions in the Perth Concert Hall. Tendencies that chime with the candidates who would be prime minister and the rest of their Westminster teams.

Most Scottish Tory politicians supported Jeremy Hunt against Boris Johnson in 2019 – boosting the impression of general Scottish hostility towards the Tousled One.

This time the rank-and-file want to give the opposite impression – that Scotland needs saving from itself, from the SNP and the Scottish Government – and that a London-based caped conservative crusader is capable of flying in, thumping the First Minister and restoring what Conservatives regard as the correct order of things.

And that is a single United Kingdom with a single overarching, overbearing all powerful government based in London.

Already, Westminster has legislated to erode the devolution settlement. Not my opinion, but that of the far from radical Lord Hope, who observed recently that the Internal Market Bill – which imposes Westminster quality standards across the whole UK – “renders devolved powers worthless”.

Meanwhile the Tories have got Scottish councils scrambling for levelling up funds – even though they come from our taxpayer-generated kitty and will finance capital projects that need Scottish Parliament cash to keep running. But Holyrood gets no say and – the Tories hope – no credit from the cash London doles out. Likewise, Freeports.

With all those big London-badged cash handouts swirling around and Scottish businesses swithering between the regulations, standards and procedures of the Whitehall and Edinburgh governments, Scottish Tories may now be thinking, who cares if their party can’t win democratically? They’ll buy off councils and businesses and intimidate Scottish civic society into submission. Whaurs yer pretendy parliament noo?

Now of course, there are some flies in that ointment. Voters generally are quite capable of biting the hand that feeds – take the European car component dependent north-east of England whose folk voted resoundingly for Brexit.

READ MORE: Scottish independence to be 'rebranded as separatism' under Liz Truss's leadership

And as Sunak himself complained at the Perth hustings, many Scots (damn their eyes) actually thought furlough payments came from Nicola Sturgeon not himself. So, kudos and political support from a grateful Scottish nation may not automatically head his way in return for city deal bungs.

Jings, if acts of largesse created automatic political benefit, Rishi Furlough Sunak would be miles ahead of Truss not miles behind.

The big problem for scunnered Tories though is the popularity of the Scottish Parliament. Anything that looks like a clear attack, or an arrogant summons south for a humiliating Commons grilling – when Ministers are clearly accountable to the Scottish Parliament via the Scotland Act – all this will stoke resentment and support for independence.

And despite their grandstanding as candidates, I’d guess Sunak and Truss know that fine well. But can the winner resist calls for quasi direct rule by over-excited Scottish members, since they helped fan the flames?

We’ll find out soon enough. And we’ll be ready.