FOR a politician whose party leader called a General Election because the opinion polls told her that she’d get a whopping majority, only to discover once the votes were in that she’d lost the slender majority that she had, you’d think that Ruth Davidson would be a bit more circumspect about demanding that parties in power make decisions based on opinion polls.

But no, Ruth Davidson wants the Scottish Government to drop the bill that’s already been passed by the Scottish Parliament, and she wants them to drop it on the basis of an opinion poll. You’d have thought a Tory would have learned their lesson about relying on opinion polls, but not Ruth.

It’s not even as though the opinion poll in question, which purportedly showed that 60 per cent of people oppose another independence referendum, was unbiased and neutral. It asked a ridiculously leading question, a question phrased in such a way as to positively beg people to say “no”.

Loading article content

The truth is that asking people whether they want another independence referendum is a meaningless exercise, in whatever way the question is phrased, and the reason it’s meaningless is because it takes no account of circumstances or motives.

I’m hugely keen on the idea of independence, you may have noticed, but if I was asked in an opinion poll if I wanted a referendum tomorrow, I’d say no. I want another referendum when the circumstances are right for one. I want another referendum when we’re going to win it. So, despite the fact that I spend much of my time travelling the length and breadth of Scotland talking about independence and encouraging the formation of grass roots Yes groups, Ruth Davidson would still take my opinion and include it in whatever she’s citing at FMQs as “proof” that Scotland doesn’t want another independence referendum.

The best time for another independence referendum is at the time that the Scottish Government originally proposed to have it – when the Brexit negotiations have played out and we know what sort of deal the UK has struck with the EU. The people of Scotland have a right to vote on that. Ruth doesn’t want us to have that right. She wants us to take whatever it is that the UK chucks at us and to be grateful for it. What Ruth Davidson is demanding is that the people of Scotland surrender now and for all time the right to have a view on what British governments impose on us. The Tories want Scotland to make a pinkie promise to accept whatever Brexit deal Westminster comes up with.

Still, it’s not like we should listen to Ruth’s opinion on anything much; her boss certainly doesn’t. Theresa May doesn’t listen to Ruth on the topic of LGBTI rights nor, indeed, on anything much else.

Despite the entreaties that Ruth made to Theresa May after the latter announced her intention to make a deal with the arch-homophobes of the DUP and the assurances that she reportedly received that LGBTI rights wouldn’t be affected, Theresa went and appointed David Lidington as Justice Secretary, a man who has consistently voted against every single piece of legislation improving LGBTI rights.

Mind you, getting assurances from Ruth Davidson on LGBTI rights wouldn’t inspire much in the way of confidence at the best of times, as she seems to believe that the entire point of the campaign for LGBTI equality was “please don’t be nasty to gay people so that we can be Daily Mail readers too.”

What we’ve been witnessing this past week is a shameless attempt by a politician who lost an election to act as though she’d won it. Since her boss in London is attempting much the same trick it’s not like we should be surprised. It’s the most brazen attempt at a power grab since one of the contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race hogged all the electrical sockets with his hair drier.

The Tories are doing deals with the orange-sashed DUP, they’re stirring up sectarianism in Scotland, and their media friends are silent all of a sudden about the Ulsterisation of our politics. An elderly relative of mine is your archetypal west of Scotland Catholic, and he voted No in the referendum because, he said, he didn’t want to be “ruled by Presbyterians”. So how’s that working out now, eh?

The facts are, however, that despite all the dirty deals, despite all the electoral spending, Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives (TM) won just 13 seats out of 59. They fought the election on the single issue of opposition to another independence referendum, and they still lost.

Improving on the number of seats you achieved still doesn’t make you a winner, any more than improving your results in an arithmetic exam from an F to a D means that you’re now top of the class. Scotland looked at Ruth Davidson’s party and still gave them a failing grade – all the Tory triumphalism in the world won’t change that simple arithmetical reality.