IN theory, the purpose of the Scotland Office and the Secretary of State for Scotland is to provide Scotland with a voice in the UK Cabinet. But then theory tells us a lot of things. It’s how things work out in real life that is important.

In theory, all of the atoms making up the body of David Mundell could spontaneously rearrange themselves into an expensive but inert and useless fluffy stuffed toy that sits ignored on a shelf with an inane grin on its face. This eventuality might provoke some serious questions from physicists about our understanding of the fundamentals of the matter which makes up the universe. From the rest of us, the only question it would provoke would be to ask how anyone could tell the difference between the Secretary of State and a stuffed toy.

READ MORE: UK Government is ‘failing terminally ill’

There’s the theory of the British state, and then there’s the practice. In theory, we live in a union, a partnership of nations. In practice, we live in a unitary state where Scotland is routinely marginalised and ignored and we are dictated to by Conservative governments that we equally routinely fail to have voted for. Likewise, in practice the purpose of the Scotland Office isn’t to ensure that Scotland can speak Scottish truth unto power, like the Scottish truth that some people take their Irn-Bru really seriously.

The real purpose of the Scotland Office these days is to be the voice of the UK Government in Scotland. Before devolution, the Scottish Office, as it was then called, had a substantial workload. It combined the functions of the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Education and several others. Apart from defence, tax and social security and a couple of other odds and ends, it was responsible for every government service in Scotland that wasn’t delivered by local authorities. After devolution, all the responsibilities of the Scottish Office were transferred to the new Scottish Parliament, leaving the department as a hollowed out and empty husk. So rather like some of those who’ve held the post of Secretary of State for Scotland then.

Since devolution, the Scotland Office has been a department in search of a role, but it was only with the advent of an SNP government in Holyrood that it finally found one. The role of the Scotland Office isn’t to give Scotland a voice in the UK Government, it’s to give the UK government a voice in Scotland even when that government has the support of only a relatively small minority of Scottish voters.

We can look in vain for David Mundell to stand up in the British Cabinet and make the case for Scottish interests. That’s not his job. His job is, as the Scotland Office website itself tells us, to promote “the best interests of Scotland within a stronger United Kingdom”.

In other words, it’s to tell Scotland what the Tories think is good for Scotland while spending public money to counter the government that the Scottish public actually voted for. A more accurate title for the Scotland Office would be the Telling Scotland What’s Good for Unionism Office And Making Independence Supporters Pay For It Too. Admittedly that’s not a very snappy title, but then no-one could ever accuse David Mundell of snappiness. As its actual functions wither, the budget of the Scotland Office gets more expensively bloated than the menu at a Scotland in Union luncheon. Spending on spin doctors and media relations has rocketed from £108,000 in 2010 to £686,000, while spending on social functions and entertaining has zoomed from £9000 to £61,000, which if nothing else proves that there are other rockets and zoomers in the Scotland Office and not just the Secretary of State. The number of staff employed by the Scotland Office was just five the last time there was a Labour government, but now, under David Mundell and those Tories who are always harping on about cutting back on government, there are 71.

When asked why his department was so much larger now and was spending more money despite the fact that it has less work to do, Mundell blamed the SNP. It’s the fault of the independence referendum in 2014 he said, which is why spending in the Scotland Office increased from 2015 to 2016. The Scotland Office might be spending a lot more of our money, but it’s clearly not spending any of it on a calendar.

The Scotland Office is essentially a glorified British propaganda outfit devoted to pushing a British agenda on us and to rubbishing the cause of independence, like the BBC news but without the fancy graphics or the annoying weather map. And as with the BBC, it’s ordinary punters who have to pay for it. They take our money, and then they use it against us. That’s the real theory and practice of the British state.