TORY small-mindedness is one of their biggest barriers to success in Scotland.

A cursory scroll through social media reveals a great deal about their lack of ambition for our nation making its place in a big world.

They shriek when the SNP gets above itself, demanding it butts out of foreign affairs, defence policy, shaping our future as we leave the EU or any reserved matter besides. Know your place, don’t get above yourselves, you’ll have had your devolution, get on with it and that is the end of that.

That hopeless insularity has been the tack of choice by successive Tory leaders at Holyrood, but it is self-defeating and puts a lid firmly on what they can ever hope to achieve in Scotland in terms of electoral success.

To put it simply, if the Conservatives have such little confidence in their country, how can they expect its citizens to have any confidence in them?

The powers that be have anointed Douglas Ross as their new leader in Scotland. The ruthlessness of that process has been quite the sight to behold. The men in grey suits determined that Jackson Carlaw’s time was up, and regime change has been swiftly executed within a week.

What challenge he presents to the SNP remains to be seen. I expect he’ll be marginally more effective than his predecessor, but of course that’s a low bar to clear.

But his lack of ambition is already defining his leadership, and making it look washed up and wearisome before it has properly begun.

He was out of the blocks to declare his intentions last week with three briefing lines which seemed to gain purchase in the press reports.

Firstly Douglas Ross set out his intransigence to the prospect of people in Scotland having the right to determine their own future. There’s an obvious irony in claiming to seek an end to constitutional division by stoking constitutional division, but he was playing to the Unionist gallery on this point. His entire case rests on the Tories’ go-to “once in a generation” rebuttal. For them to use that as their trump card matters in practice as little as it did when the former first minister used it in the throws of the referendum campaign. It was a rhetorical flourish then, and remains so now. Boris Johnson said last year’s General Election was a “once-in-a-generation” vote. It obviously wasn’t. Politics goes on, and there will be another Westminster election in the next five years. Were we to take all political bombast literally then poor Boris Johnson would long have been dead in a ditch. And, as for an independence referendum, senior Tories and political commentators alike now know full well that outright denial is a line that simply cannot and will not hold forever.

Next he set out his wish to provide strong opposition. If barracking Nicola Sturgeon each Thursday at First Minister’s Questions is the sum of his ambition as Tory leader, then fine. It takes his party nowhere beyond where they currently stand.

Finally, Douglas Ross thought he’d coined the cleverest tactic of them all in turning claims of a “power grab” back on the SNP saying they were a centralising force in government. But in doing so, he vowed to diminish Holyrood’s powers – and that’s the only part of this contrived and convoluted argument that will resonate. There is no clamour for the Scottish Parliament to be stripped of powers it already has under the devolution settlement, only the reverse. The idea that this is possibly a vote winner only exists in the minds of Tory hardliners.

On this last point, Douglas Ross has form.

Before throwing in the towel as a government minister, his response to every reasoned call for more powers to tackle Scotland’s demographic challenges, for example, was that devolution was done and dusted. Scotland had enough powers at its disposal to attract the people we need to live and work here. He would prefer to deny the evidence and follow a Tory policy which is firm not fair towards immigration and if Scotland suffers the consequences then it is easy enough to blur the lines and blame the “Nats”. Sadly it is the prism through which all Scotland Office decisions have been made over the past decade. They advance a myth of a unitary United Kingdom which structurally, and in people’s minds, does not wash and should not be the sum total of our ambition anyway. It’s unhealthy, parochial, narrow-minded; and transparently so. And in the eyes of the electorate, it’s also utterly depressing. Tellingly for the blinkered arch-Unionist Ross it is already his default position. He’s undergone his Dover House tutelage and that’s as broad as his horizons look set to be.

We expect, in fact we should demand, that our political leaders offer a promise of hope or change when so many deep-rooted challenges such as poverty, inequality and homelessness shame our apparently wealthy society. Treading water and re-rehearsing the same old political lines can achieve little and, in the critical circumstances of recovering from a deadly pandemic will do far more harm than good.

Douglas Ross got there eventually, when asked earlier this week to outline a positive vision for Scotland’s future. The “UK Government provided a furlough” scheme, he declared. Why thank you, Mr Ross. Our gratitude knows no bounds. Borrowed money, which we will all have to pay back in due course, which pales against the support measures introduced by other countries across Europe — noticeably among them many small, independent economies.

He went on: “I’ll bring forward an economic plan!”

But when, Douglas?

“In a month’s time.”

Stirring stuff.

If that prospectus doesn’t offer a wholesale transfer of the major economic and social powers Holyrood needs to pull Scotland up by its bootstraps, then it won’t be worth the paper it was written on.

In that event, it will be Tory small-mindedness which continues to hold them back and it will define Douglas Ross’s leadership before it has truly begun.