WE’RE now in August, officially the silly season in politics as Parliament is in recess. However, the Scottish Tories have got their silliness in early, with the defenestration of Jackson Carlaw. Surname Surname is to be replaced by Douglas Ross – Forename Forename – who was conveniently poised and ready to launch an uncontested bid for the newly vacant leadership within hours of his predecessor’s humiliation.

Totally and entirely coincidentally, of course. In the exact same way that it was entirely coincidental that part-time Prime Minister and full-time performance artiste Boris Johnson happened to visit Forename Forename’s Moray constituency and met with the MP just a few days ago.

There are few who treat the intelligence of the public with greater contempt than those who themselves are less than capable. The Scottish Conservatives have embarked upon a silly season which looks set to continue long after August is over and well into the foreseeable future.

Their panic at the rise in support for independence is palpable. This is a coup which was planned and directly from party HQ in London. Douglas Ross will ascend to the post of branch office manager in an uncontested election, but he will forever be known as the placeman who is there to do Johnson’s bidding. He is a creature of Downing Street and Michael Gove. He was put there by them, and he can be removed by them, too. He has all the democratic legitimacy of Lady Ruth Davidson’s political reward for services to photo opportunities.

The Conservatives have never been big on the notion of respecting Scottish democracy, now they’ve shown us that they don’t respect internal party democracy either. Jackson Carlaw was chosen as leader in a democratic vote by Scottish Conservative members, but that didn’t stop the head office in London from getting rid of him anyway. When the outcome of a Scottish electoral process is not to the pleasing of British Conservatives, it must be either ignored or overturned.

Their problem is that while they can overturn the result of an internal Conservative Party election, they can’t overturn a Scottish election result and there is a definite shelf life on how long they can get away with ignoring it. They have been saying no to Scotland’s repeated re-election of pro-independence parties ever since 2014, and the rot has well and truly sunk in.

You can provide yourself with a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy as long as you can plausibly argue that a majority in Scotland don’t want independence, but it’s an entirely different proposition when there have been consistent majorities for independence in polls for several months. All that the Conservatives are doing now is to establish the equivalence in the minds of Scotland’s electorate between independence and democracy itself.

There may be some in the independence movement who fear the Conservatives can say no to another Scottish referendum forever, but the Conservatives themselves clearly don’t share that opinion.

If they did, then there would have been no need to get rid of the ineffectual Jackson Carlaw, because it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. The fact they’ve moved so decisively and brutally to remove him proves that the party hierarchy is very worried indeed. And so they should be.

They’re worried because although they may be ideological zealots who are determined to pursue a hard Brexit, and who would be quite content with a No Deal, they know that Scotland does not share their enthusiasm.

They’re worried because they can see support for independence is increasing in the polls even though we are still currently in the phoney war phase of Brexit. It’s all going to get real after the end of December, when the UK exits the transitional period and Brexit starts to have a serious effect on jobs, livelihoods, and opportunities.

The economic disruption that will result even if a deal is cobbled together will come on top of the economic disruption created by the coronavirus epidemic.

What makes it even worse for the Conservatives is that Scotland is very decidedly of the opinion that the British Government has performed poorly in its handling of the epidemic and prefers to put its trust in Holyrood. The Conservatives can’t point to any greater successes from the Johnson regime, and so are reduced to trying to persuade Scotland’s voters that in its response to coronavirus the Scottish Government has been just as rubbish as Westminster has been.

Even if that were true, and there is a plethora of experts who would dispute the assertion, it’s still not an argument which is designed to boost public confidence in the abilities of the Conservative Party.

“Vote for us, we’re just as rubbish as the SNP” is hardly a vote winning slogan. Yet it would appear that it’s all they’ve got left. There are reports that Ross is going to do Gove’s bidding and downplay the independence issue to focus on attacking the SNP’s record.

Their problem is that the Conservatives’ record in office in Westminster is even more dire. It also means they will struggle to attract the votes of erstwhile Labour voters who prioritise opposing independence.

All this comes on top of a long-term decline in the appeal of Britishness to the people of Scotland. The Tories are painfully aware that the demographics of independence support point to the ever-increasing disengagement of Scottish public opinion from support for the UK and the growing dissatisfaction with the constraints that Westminster places on Scotland.

They are starting to realise that Scotland is shifting from regarding the UK as a political structure which is necessary to protect Scotland from the big bad world to a shackle and a constraint which is holding Scotland back. It’s just they have no big ideas which can reverse the tide.

The Tories hope they can solve their Scottish problem by imposing a hardline Unionism on it from Westminster, yet if the solution to the Scottish problem is not designed, built, and made in Scotland, it’s not going to be accepted.

Scotland will show Forename Forename the red card. He will parachute into Holyrood at the next election at the top of a regional list to preside over a diminished, weakened, and discredited rump of a party.