The National:

THERE’S one thing that we can rely on the Scottish Tories for, and that's a limitless supply of hypocrisy. If we were able to bottle it and use it as a power source, we'd never have to hear them go on about how the oil is running out ever again. Today's exercise in two-facedness is the call from the branch office of the Conservatives in Scotland for an inquiry into Russian meddling, despite the fact that their bosses in Westminster have categorically refused to carry out an inquiry into Russian meddling in the EU referendum.

However, in their desperate pursuit of some quick SNPBaddery, the Scottish Tories want an investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the Scottish referendum. It's difficult to understand what they hope to achieve from this.

There are only two possible outcomes, neither of which is helpful for the Conservatives. An inquiry could find that there was no meddling to speak of or that any meddling which did take place did not influence the result.  In this case all that the Scottish Tories will have done is to highlight their Westminster colleagues craven refusal to allow an inquiry into Russian meddling in the EU referendum and increase the pressure on Boris Johnson to agree to an enquiry into Russian meddling in UK politics.

Alternatively, the inquiry could find that there was indeed substantial Russian meddling, in which case all that the Conservatives will have achieved is to call the result of the Scottish referendum into question. And which party in Scotland is constantly calling on us all to respect the result of the 2014 referendum?

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Meanwhile, there would be even greater pressure placed on Boris Johnson to agree to an inquiry into meddling in the EU referendum. Whatever way you look at it, an inquiry isn't going to end well for the Tories So far the only credible reports of Russian meddling in the Scottish referendum involve allegations that Russian bots and trolls on social media were attempting to create uncertainty about the validity of the result by boosting suspicions that the result was fraudulent. Whether it's true or not that the Russian state was behind this activity, it can't have affected the outcome of the referendum because it occurred after the event of the vote.

There are, however, serious and credible allegations that there was outside interference in the Scottish referendum. The problem for the Tories is that these allegations concern attempts by the British state to get foreign powers to weigh in on the side of the No campaign. These even include a credible allegation that Vladimir Putin was asked to help the No campaign.

The National: Russian president Vladimir Putin speaks during an annual meeting with top military officials at the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow

A report published in the Herald newspaper in January 2014 alleged that David Cameron had begged Vladimir Putin to intervene in the referendum campaign to oppose Scottish independence. The Russian news agency Tass-Itar claimed that the British Government had written to the Russian leader to ask for his help in defeating Scottish independence. Russia has its own issues with minority nationalities seeking independence, most notably the Chechens.

It didn't stop there. There were numerous reports from the Spanish press that the British Conservatives were colluding with the Spanish Partido Popular to create a European alliance of anti-independence parties. This included a meeting between the Partido Popular's Esteban González Pons and members of the Conservative Party, including Ruth Davidson at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham in 2012.

There were also reports in the Spanish press that the British embassy in Madrid had contacted media outlets in Spain to ask them to publish stories which were helpful to the Better Together campaign.

It was further reported that David Cameron had asked Barack Obama to make a statement in aid of Better Together. There were even reports that the then Prime Minister has asked the Queen, our supposedly apolitical head of state, to get involved in the campaign, leading to the allegedly spontaneous remarks of the monarch to a member of the public outside Crathie kirk.

Then we have the publicity given to organisations claiming to be grassroots Unionist groups, such as the No Borders Campaign. Grassroots initiatives from the Yes campaign went unreported. There are plenty of allegations of meddling in the Scottish referendum campaign and this article doesn't include all of them. There are plenty more. The problem for the Conservatives is that almost all of them involve meddling on behalf of the Better Together campaign.

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If we're going to have an inquiry into outside meddling in what was supposedly a purely Scottish referendum campaign, then let's not restrict ourselves to reports of Russian state activity which was allegedly helpful to the Yes movement. You can't single out one instance of external meddling on behalf of only side in a campaign and claim that it alone is problematic especially when there's far more evidence of external meddling that was helpful to the other side. That's undemocratic political point scoring, not an attempt to uncover the truth.

The problem for the Tories is that if we were to have an inquiry into external meddling in the Scottish referendum we'd find that the great majority of it was designed to be helpful to the Better Together campaign. If the Tories want to put the outcome of the 2014 referendum into doubt, then please go ahead. It only adds to the reasons why we need to have a second referendum.

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