IT’S hard not to worry about our future as the ghoulish circus of the Conservative Party leadership contest plays out to a very small tent of paid-up customers.

But it’s even harder to watch from afar as these leading lights, these wannabe PMs, denigrate Scotland and our democratic rights with their soundbites on “the precious Union” or their contemptuous rhetoric, while ignoring our national and clearly stated desire to remain in Europe. After three years of watching this disdain played out across the green benches of the House of Commons, week in, week out, Scotland marginalised and patronised, it forces the question: how much more are we willing to take of trapeze artist Boris and the rest of the Conservative clowns?

And how much more are we willing to risk? Watching the celebrations of 20 years of the Scottish Parliament I was struck more by the immediate future than the immediate past, given what we could lose under a Tory Brexit, under either Johnson or Hunt – the devolution power grab, the diminishing of Holyrood, the narrowing of vision and opportunity for our small nation that relaunched itself with such hope back in 1999.

Such a terrible waste, such a travesty of democracy, such a kick in the teeth after what we have all achieved together over these 20 years.

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Support for independence is growing as fast as faith in the Union is diminishing if a recent poll by Panelbase is anything to go by. And if Boris Johnson makes it to the finishing line as PM, then more than 50% of Scottish voters would back Yes in an early second independence referendum. He’s already got a more negative net approval Scottish rating than fellow Brexiteer, Nigel Farage – quelle accolade.

Does Johnson even care? Probably not. He’s too busy having fun goading Scotland. His team says he will swat the SNP like midges; he’s criticised public spending on Scotland and suggested doing away with the Barnett formula before retracting; and he’s not even pretending that Westminster cares about Scotland, describing it as England’s parliament.

But most of all, behind the bravado and throwaway insults, his careless attitude about forcing through a disastrous no-deal Brexit reveals just how little he thinks of Scotland.

Scotland is just collateral damage, same goes for Northern Ireland and Wales. Johnson is far too busy building his Brexit “war Cabinet” to worry about the rest of the Union, proposing the most noisy member of his “class”, ie old-school-tie chum, Jacob Rees-Mogg as his chief Brexit negotiator, which will surely go down a storm at Brussels. Boris is a buffoon pretending to be a Churchill.

Meanwhile social climber extraordinaire Ross Thomson is confirmed as his Scottish campaign chairman. Thomson, as possibly the least popular Scottish MP after Michael Gove, is certainly the man most likely to win the booby prize in his constituency at the next election.

He must realise his days as the Aberdeen South MP are numbered, but the truth is that for Thomson it has always been about rubbing shoulders with Empire 2.0 as personified in Boris Johnson. Just like Gove, Thomson will happily slip his Scottish skin in order to slither closer to power and influence.

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Meanwhile no amount of Irn-Bru drinking will make the Scots warm up to Jeremy Hunt. He may have a more respectable tone than his adversary, he may well put the Union before Brexit which will please a certain section of the electorate, and he may have pledged to protect the Barnett formula, but we’re nae daft, we’ve seen the havoc visited on the English NHS by Hunt, and we don’t appreciate the finger wagging on a Scottish referendum.

Anyway, no matter how much Hunt defends the Union, 63% of Tory members, the small handful of folk who will choose our next PM, are happy to sacrifice Scotland as long as the country “Brexits” this Halloween. If by some mischance Hunt is crowned he will be another Tory “toom tambard” bowing to the anti-Scottish and anti-European sentiments of the English shires.

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Meanwhile, Scotland’s future hangs by a thread in an uncomfortable and indecisive limbo. Faced with the greatest opportunity to forge our own path versus destruction by a Tory Brexit, are we going to prevaricate and miss our window of opportunity? If we can’t save our devolved parliament in its current state, then what are we going to do to ensure our future is in our hands and not at the mercy of those who view us at best as an irritation like the “midge” or at worse, completely dispensable?

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Back in May, Scottish journalist Kenny Farquharson posted on Twitter an old newspaper cutting of an obituary for Hugh MacDiarmid that had fallen out of a second-hand book he’d bought that day.

It turned out the words were written by the wonderful Neal Ascherson on the occasion of the death of Scotland’s greatest modern poet, a man who “burned holes in the blankets of national complacency” with his “hot and angry integrity”.

The last few sentences of the obituary seem especially pertinent given our present impasse. Ascherson wrote that what made MacDiarmid so important to our nation was his clear vision “that Scotland needed a great upswelling of the incalculable, a flinging-away of spectacles and discarding of safety belts”.

It is this heat, this intensity and this integrity that we need to harness now. This is not a time for cool, calm acceptance of our fate but for bold and determined resolution. Are we ready to burn through these oppressive blankets and make our own decisions, free of the restraining harness of Westminster politics and politicians?

For me, the answer has got to be a resounding YES.