THE Tory leadership contest was always going to be ugly, but this one is even worse than I’d anticipated.

None of the candidates are talking about how they can help people through the worst cost of living crisis for generations. Household bills are skyrocketing but the candidates are fighting on who can do most to cut taxes for their millionaire friends.

We have seen the now-eliminated Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt proposing to rip billions from public services by slashing taxes for the biggest corporations.

Nadhim Zahawi, who was also knocked out of the race, called for a 20% cut to all government departments – this is fantasy economics and would be a recipe for the worst possible austerity.

These sorts of policies may be targeted at winning over the Tory faithful, but if any of them were put into action they would plunge even more families into poverty.

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At the same time, we have seen a full-blown and reactionary “culture war” narrative taking root, and a grotesque race to the bottom on trans rights.

Almost all of the candidates have been using myths and mistruths about trans people to fuel their campaign – even Penny Mordaunt, who had previously taken a slightly more progressive position (relative to her opponents) has decided to throw trans people under the bus for her own political gain.

Despite the high profile that transphobia has had in the campaign, it is not even something that Tory members identify as a priority. Recent polling from Opinium of Tory party members showed that only 6% of Tory members cite it among the areas they are most passionate about.

Their members are understandably more concerned by the cost of living and the economy. It’s clear why. The UK energy regulator Ofgem warns that energy bills could rise by another £800 this October. This will have a devastating impact on household budgets and lead to spiralling debt and poverty.

Without major and immediate government intervention, it will fuel a social emergency. Many people are already being forced to choose between heating and eating and are finding it increasingly hard to afford either. Yet not one candidate has offered a credible plan to tackle this.

They are offering no meaningful ideas to lower costs or to break the link between surging gas prices and energy bills. The climate crisis is the biggest challenge that this generation and all future generations will face, but the Tories are looking the other way and continuing with business as usual.

All of them are committed to further oil and gas exploration and nuclear energy. None of them are talking about the rapid investment that needs to be made in renewable energy. One of the favourites, Kemi Badenoch (below), has gone as far as describing the net zero climate target as “unilateral economic disarmament” and calling for it to be removed.

The National: Kemi Badenoch

Another area they are all united on is Scottish independence – with each and every candidate ruling out allowing a referendum in the next decade. It has been 70 years since the Tories finished first in any election in Scotland, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying to deny our right to self-determination.

Despite the warm words some of them are using about Boris Johnson, his premiership has been catastrophic.

He came to power on a pack of lies and claims that he would “get Brexit done” with no border checks or extra bureaucracy. Instead, he has delivered a devastating deal that even he has tried to break in the case of the Northern Irish border and that has removed the right to work, travel and study across Europe.

He said that he would unite the country and bring people together, but instead he has offered acrimony and division.

Boris Johnson may have been a disastrous Prime Minister. But he didn’t do any of it on his own. He did it with the full complicity and support of his party, including the same people who are running to replace him. They all knew exactly what sort of man he was, but they enabled his lying, his lawbreaking, and his incompetence.

They backed his terrible Brexit deal and allowed him to cut universal credit by £1000 a year while spending huge sums on wasteful projects and crony contracts. They cheered him on when he introduced plans to deport refugees to Rwanda, with some of them pledging to go even further.

None of them will deliver the change that we need.

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The Greens are doing everything we can to tackle the cost of living crisis – we have doubled Scottish Child Payments for every eligible child, increased the benefits we control in line with inflations and introduced free bus travel for everyone under 22.

These changes are vital, and have been delivered despite the of constraints of devolution and real-terms cut that the UK Government has made to the Scottish Parliament budget. However, they will only be undermined by further cuts and austerity from Downing Street.

As far as I’m concerned, this leadership contest is less of a choice and more of a dilemma. I don’t believe that any of them will act in the interest of Scotland or any of the people who are suffering under their terrible policies.

Next year’s referendum will give us a crucial opportunity to secure a better future. Independence will give us the chance to finally turn the page on 12 years of Tory rule. It will allow us to put our future in our own hands and do things differently.

After three years of chaos, the party is finally over for Boris Johnson. Like many of you, I will be delighted when he leaves Downing Street for the last time. But the problem is much bigger than one man. It is also the policies and the worldview that he represents.