THE Scottish Conservatives have a new leadership team, although this raises the question of whether it is in fact possible to lead an organisation whose sole raison d’etre lies in a denial of the possibility that a distinctively Scottish political party can exist. Or indeed that Scotland can exist as a distinct political entity. The Scottish Conservatives are a walking contradiction in terms, although possibly zombie-like shuffling is a more accurate term.

Jackson Carlaw hoovered up a large majority of votes in the Scottish branch office of the Doing What We’re Told by the English Nationalist Boris Brexit Party.

No-one, not even the previously gullible British nationalist press in Scotland, is touting him as a future First Minster. Not even his dug would give him an enthusiastic reception.

The British media got their hopes up with Ruth Davidson, in perhaps the biggest triumph of hope over expectation since the last time a British nationalist politician was hailed as the Saviour of the Union, but not even the red, white and blue crayon brigade who infest the online comments sections of Scottish newspapers can bring themselves to believe Jackson is the British messiah.

He represents a return to the lecturing, hectoring variety of Toryism that can’t be enlivened with a cheeky photo-op on the back of a coo. Ruth Davidson may have been a media construct, but the media need raw material to work with and Ruth was happy to oblige with a series of photo opportunities and game show appearances. No one is going to invite Jackson Carlaw on to Bake Off. Back Off, possibly.

Meanwhile, his deputy is Annie Wells, the list MSP for forgetting her lines. There are those who are appointed to a level above their competence, and then there’s Annie. Annie once said that she accepted the sovereignty of the Scottish people, but not of the Parliament she sits in. In Annie’s world, the people of Scotland are only sovereign when they agree with her. She’s like a washing machine that’s only been programmed to spin.

In lieu of anything positive to offer the Scottish electorate, what passes for a strategy among the staunch members of the Doing What We’re Told by the English Nationalist Boris Brexit Party is to keep insisting that we’ve seen peak SNP in the hope that eventually we will indeed have seen peak SNP. In this, they are aping their favourite right-wing tabloid, which keeps warning of snowmaggedon in the hope that eventually there will be some snow.

And then they can take a picture of it and win the award for the Scottish newspaper front page of the year. But we’re not bitter

[we are – Ed]. This is the political version of the boy who cried wolf, although the moral of this tale appears to have escaped the Conservatives in Scotland. They don’t think that it’s a warning against telling constant lies; instead they think the moral of the story is that they ought to be telling a different lie.

Their problem is that they can’t think of a convincing one. They’ve already destroyed all the ones that they used in 2014.

Jackson started off his campaign to woo the somewhat over half of the Scottish population who support independence by labelling the independence movement as an evangelical cult. Psychologists have a word for this type of behaviour, and that word is projection. It’s what happens when you assert that your enemies have the same qualities that you do, the ones that you’re in denial about. A good definition of a cult is an organisation in which autonomy is considered beyond the pale and which is led by a remote authoritarian leader who is invested with godlike powers which cannot be challenged.

This sounds rather more like the Scottish Conservatives than anything in a movement which is based upon the proposition that power and responsibility ought to rest with the people of Scotland and their elected representatives.

The real problems for Jackson Carlaw will come to fruition in next year’s Holyrood election. That election is going to be defined by the single issue of independence, and this raises a serious quandary for the Doing What We’re Told by the English Nationalist Boris Brexit Party. They can either do as they have done until now, and campaign on the single issue of opposing another independence referendum, or they can try to insist the election is instead about public services in Scotland.

If they adopt the first strategy, they will have destroyed their own argument against another referendum when the voters of Scotland return a pro-independence majority – as all recent polls suggest they’re going to. This is essentially what they did during the last Westminster election and, having fought that election on the single issue of opposition to a referendum and seeing the loss of over half their seats and a resurgent SNP, they’re now left struggling to defend the anti-democratic refusal of their Westminster bosses to allow another ballot.

This means that they’re already going to go into the next Scottish election tagged with the label of a party that doesn’t respect Scottish democracy.

Alternatively they can pretend that independence isn’t an issue, but the other parties and the media in Scotland will be banging on about nothing else and the Tories will be asked constantly what their position is. They will come across as even more duplicitous and hypocritical than they already are. Either way, they’re on to a loser, and either way they’re going to be held to account for the actions of their Brexity colleagues in Westminster and their assault upon the devolution settlement. No amount of distraction about bridges between Stranraer and Larne will save them from that.

The contest for the branch office manager did reveal something interesting, however. And that is that there are only about 11,000 active Tories in the entire country.

That’s the real reason why the Conservatives are so terrified of another referendum, they simply don’t have the feet on the ground to mount an effective campaign. The independence movement can muster several times that number on a wet and windy morning for a march in Glasgow.

The Tories are a tiny little cult, devoted to receiving orders from English nationalist politicians who have no interest in Scotland save as a pretty bauble. Even a politician who was a master of the craft would struggle to sell that one. A used car salesman who has been a tired representative of Scottish Torydom for decades has no chance.