IT is now abundantly clear that the Conservatives are not merely hostile to any idea of Scottish independence, but they are also deeply opposed to devolution, which they blame for stoking the fires of what it pleases Liz Truss to call "separatism”.

In the delusional British nationalist reveries of the Conservative imagination, if there were no Scottish Parliament, the inhabitants of Scotland would all be happy little North Britons, eager to bring out the Union Jack bunting whenever some royal non-entity deigned to pass through a Scottish city on their way to slaughter some wildlife, and thoughts that Scotland might be a country and a nation in its own right which is perfectly capable of governing itself would simply never occur to them.

Conservative antagonism to the devolution settlement and the Scottish Parliament was fully on display at the Conservative leadership hustings in Perth this week, where many of the questions from the party members focused on how the British Government can force Holyrood to obey its diktats.

Tory members were seemingly without a shred of awareness that it was only thanks to devolution that the Conservatives have been able to make a partial recovery from the electoral annihilation that they suffered at the 1997 General Election in Scotland. Without devolution and proportional voting systems which guarantee the Conservatives some electoral representation at Holyrood and a reasonable number of local councilors and the opportunities for political grandstanding which this offers the Scottish Tories, it is entirely possible that the party could have remained without any elected representatives in Scotland more senior than a handful of local councillors. We can but dream.

However, the real anger of the Scottish Tories derives from the fact that despite being rescued from electoral oblivion by devolution, the Conservatives in Scotland are still incapable of winning elections and their arguments and policies cut no ice with a Scottish public that remains largely immune to their dubious charms. The best they can manage is just six Westminster seats, and they remain far behind the SNP at Holyrood.

For all that they consistently harp on about how the SNP need to accept the result of the 2014 referendum, the Scottish Tories cannot bring themselves to accept how the people of Scotland have voted at every election ever since. Even as they win an 80-seat majority in the Commons, the Conservatives remain a minor party in Scotland.

The Conservatives cannot bring themselves to accept this and so are determined to use the power they won on the back of their electoral success elsewhere in the UK in order to impose their will on a reluctant Scotland. They justify this to themselves by insisting that the UK is one "single country" and therefore it does not matter how Scotland votes.

Both Truss and Sunak have signalled that they will sideline the Scottish Parliament if they become prime minister. Today in an article in the Telegraph, the prominent Truss supporter and former chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost went even further and suggested that devolution could be rolled back. Frost also insisted that independence must be effectively ruled out by the imposition of an impossibly high electoral barrier.

Scotland is to be reminded that the Scottish Government is a "subordinate entity", and he urged the next prime minister to refer to the UK as a unitary state and not as a union of four nations. This is the same man who was determined to pursue the hardest possible Brexit and thought 52% of the vote in a referendum was more than enough of a mandate to do so. 

Frost also described Scottish independence as "morally wrong". Coming as it does from one of the architects of Brexit, who abandoned hundreds of thousands of British citizens resident in the EU, the hypocrisy is off the charts. 

What is evident is that the Conservatives are not merely "coming for devolution" as Nicola Sturgeon warned, they are also coming for Scotland's very status as a nation and a country and for generations of Scottish Unionists’ understanding about the nature of the UK as a union. The Conservatives do not just want to neuter Holyrood, they also seek to abolish Scotland in any meaningful political sense and to reduce Scotland to the same status as Wessex or Northumbria, a historical region of a unitary British state with no modern political import.

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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