IN the run up to the Scottish Tory Party Conference in Aberdeen this weekend, prepare yourself for a series of announcements of a breathtaking lack-of-self-awareness variety.

Professor Adam Tomkins, the MSP, kicked it off last weekend with his so-called “fresh thinking on poverty and benefits” followed closely by his leader Ruth Davidson’s bid to shift her party’s focus from stopping independence to becoming the next Scottish Government.

A case of fact being stranger than fiction. Professor Tomkins’s comments seem especially galling given that he represents a party whose attack on the benefit system for disabled people has even been criticised by the UN; that has overseen an enormous increase in the use of foodbanks during their time in power; introduced horrendously cruel austerity measures targeted at the most poor and vulnerable in our society; and has done less than nothing to address the dramatic rise in homelessness.

For this MSP to suggest that the Scottish Conservatives are the party to address poverty issues is like suggesting that Trump is the best person to reverse climate change. We only have to look at England with the Tories in power to see the damage this party has caused.

The devolved Labour led- government in Wales hasn’t done much better. Compare and contrast with the Scottish Government and it’s a whole different ball game with the SNP and the Greens making use of every devolved power possible to mitigate some of the worst aspects of austerity such as the bedroom tax.

As for Ruth Davidson, it takes a thick skin for the leader of a party with such an abysmal record since the General Election last year, to suggest that they might be in power in the near future. Recent polls have revealed that their gains in 2017, at local councils and the General Election, have been short-lived. They’ve just lost out in the Selkirk council by-election, and it remains to be seen how they’ll fare in tomorrow’s by-election in Clackmannanshire. Some of the Conservative councillors elected last year haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory with a series of racist and bigoted scandals; and as for the Tory Scots who found themselves in Westminster from June last year, well four of them have already rebelled against Davidson’s flippy-floppy EU stance, undermining her leadership to take up with the hardline Brexit brigade in direct contradiction to their constituents’ wishes.

Taking all this into account, it’s hard to see their relevance to Scottish voters. Without their anti-independence rally call to their Unionist supporters, they have nothing left to talk about or offer Scotland. As recent events have shown, they hide when they need to defend our national interests in the Brexit bourach – we’re still not quite sure what the point of David Mundell is, given his absence at the crucial Brexit meeting in Chequers last week.

As for Ruth Davidson, who seems to be inhabiting some sort of parallel universe where negotiations with the EU are going along swimmingly for her party if her recent TV appearance on Peston is anything to go by, someone needs to take her aside and break it to her that, no, her party has not successfully handled the Irish question, that no, the position of EU nationals living here is not secure and they are leaving in their droves, and no, neither the divorce bill nor the transition period has been sorted out.

Oh, and, by the way, yes, the Tory bigwigs in London have right royally mucked it all up, making the UK a laughing stock in the eyes of the rest of the world while bringing our economy to its knees in the process.

But as usual, facts are thin on the ground for the Scottish Conservatives with Tomkins’s ideas on tackling poverty and the benefits system rather short on important details.

To be in government, you need strong policies backed up by practical ideas outlined in your manifesto. This is what they lack, and it’s a big problem for them and it’s a big problem for voters.

Without their fear and loathing of independence, these Tories have nothing left to say. Their image in Scotland is still toxic no matter how much their leader likes to think she’s changed that. The proof is in the pudding – they’ve not managed to win an election in Scotland for over 30 years.

But this isn’t going to stop Ruth Davidson from giving a rousing speech on the matter this weekend, diverting attention away from her party’s deeper failings. But be careful what you wish for Ruth.

The way her party is going, if by some miracle or in some dystopian view of the future, the Scottish Tories did get voted in to run the Scottish Parliament while their colleagues retain power at Number 10, it will be no more than just a parliament in name, with so few devolved powers left after they’ve been grabbed back by Westminster in the chaos of the Brexit aftermath.

How ironic – finally in power with no proper powers, undermined and undervalued by their big boss in London who railroaded the precious devolution settlement. As Shakespeare would say, that’s called hoist by your own petard.