THE Conservative leadership contest will have its sole event in Scotland this evening.

The prospect of another Scottish independence referendum has scarcely registered in the contest so far, reflecting the deep lack of interest in Scotland in the wider Conservative Party. However, it is certain to be a far more prominent issue at the hustings this evening at the Concert Hall in Perth.

This evening's event will make very little difference to the final result. It is not only that it is thought the Conservative Party have fewer than 10,000 active members in Scotland who make up only a small proportion of the total Conservative Party membership of around 160,000. Even if a goodly proportion of them do show up, they will struggle to fill the venue's bar, never mind the hall itself.

Being Tories. it will be of little import to them that their votes will be drowned out by the far larger mber of votes being cast elsewhere in the UK and so Scottish votes are only going to make a difference in the unlikely event that votes from party members in England are very evenly split between the two candidates.

Polling suggests that Truss has a large lead over Sunak so even if the Scottish Tories share the widespread Scottish view that Truss is going to be a gift to the independence campaign, and they vote en masse for Sunak, they are still not going to be able to influence the result. 

It would be nice to think that this might make some of them realise how the rest of us feel about British politics, but empathy is not a Conservative value. However, more importantly, ballots went out to party members a couple of weeks ago and generally those who vote return their filled ballots promptly. Most will already have done so and the outcome has most likely already been decided.

The Perth event will be performative rather than decisive, appropriately enough rather like Westminster General Elections in Scotland. The Perth hustings will largely serve to provide Scotland's overwhelmingly anti-independence media with soundbites and headlines which can be used to dampen down expectations of another vote on independence.

The candidates will compete with one another to be more hardline on their opposition to another independence referendum and will assert that they will ensure that their policies apply across the whole of the United Kingdom, devolution be damned.

The candidates will also announce that they intend to "hold the Scottish Government to account". You might have thought that that was what Scottish Parliament elections were for and that it's the job of the Scottish electorate to hold the governing party in Holyrood to account through the ballot box – that is how democracy is supposed to work.

However, it appears, according to Truss and Sunak, that the people of Scotland are doing democracy all wrong because they willfully refuse to give sufficient votes to Conservative Party candidates and so cannot be trusted to hold Holyrood to account through the normal operation of the democratic process.  So Truss, Sunak and the Conservative Party are going to intervene in order to save the benighted Scottish electorate from itself.

Devolution was supposed to be about safeguarding the right of people in Scotland to make different and distinctively Scottish democratic choices, but we have learned that Westminster will decide for itself which of Scotland's democratic choices it is going to allow.

As a part of this so-called Union … sorry, "one great country of the UK" pace Liz Truss, Scotland does not have self-determination. It has Westminster determination.

No doubt this will play well in the hall, but it will represent yet another unilateral Conservative assault on the devolution settlement despite the fact that the Tories along with the other Better Together parties vowed in 2014 that no Westminster government would ever interfere with the devolution settlement without the express consent of Holyrood.

The Conservatives no longer bother even to pretend to seek any sort of mandate from the people of Scotland to do so. All these hustings will prove is just how far removed the Conservative Party are from the political realities of Scotland. 

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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