The National:

IS it a dead cat, is it a leak, is it another case of foot in mouth for Boris Johnson?

Or is it a deliberate move to kick start a Vote Leave style campaign of misinformation and sleight of hand against Scotland’s democratic will?

My bet is on the latter.

When news came through this week of the PM’s gaff on devolution and his quick reordering of words in his original statement in order to manage the subsequent fall-out, I wondered in what context Johnson would say to his Tory buddies that devolution had been a disaster?

Were they perhaps discussing how to deal with the scurrilous Scots and our rejection of all things Tory? Were they discussing the necessity of putting us back under the Tory thumb?

Just a few months back, this UK Government were all talk and no action on wooing the Scots back into the loving bosom of the Union. This was just before they drove a coach and horses through the devolution settlement and the rule of law with their Internal Market Bill.

Now Johnson has put his cards on the table about what they really think - as if we didn’t know.

READ MORE: WATCH: Boris Johnson scolded by Speaker for getting SNP's name wrong

Love bombing this is not; this is the trailer for a well thought-through campaign of attrition against Scotland in order to put us back in our box on thoughts of breaking free from this Union of Unequals.

By calling a good proportion of the electorate “separatists” and “nationalists” they are trying to suggest that a cabal of revolutionaries in Scotland is trying to threaten the Union, when in fact the Scots have made a democratic choice to elect the SNP to power for the last 3 elections in a row (and are on track to win by a landslide at next May’s elections).

As my esteemed colleague, Dr Philippa Whitford, put it so eloquently: "Who is it that [Tories] think elects the SNP?

"The idea that somehow the SNP is a small guerrilla group that has captured the Scottish Parliament is bizarre. We are elected by the people."

And we the people have chosen devolution. We the people have chosen the SNP to lead us in Scotland on devolved matters. We the people have relegated the opposition to a mere handful of dissenters because they could not or would not represent our best interests, with more and more of us liking the look of complete independence, as the last 14 polls have shown.

Devolution is an inconvenient truth for Johnson and his ilk. This is a man who likes to hoard power at Downing Street, to emasculate the devolved parliaments, to cut off the legs of local government in England, to take away independent thought and deed despite the benefits of local decisions by local people.

Seeing Scotland make such a better fist of battling Covid-19 than his own incompetent government, watching our growing confidence in our own abilities and our own, very different internationalist vision for our nation based on values of fairness and equality, distinct from Tory austerity and xenophobic isolation, has elicited a mixture of panic and anger in the self-proclaimed Minister for the Union.

Fortunately, us Scots are a canny lot. Back in 2016, as Johnson and Gove drove around the UK in their red bus of lies and Cummings beavered away behind the scenes to come up with the “take back control” slogan, we didn’t fall for the Vote Leave and Brexiteers modus operandi of fake news, false narratives, and downright untruths. We knew that leaving Europe was a bad idea, we knew that Scotland’s place was at the heart of it and many of us realised that the only way back would be through independence.

Despite Scotland choosing to Remain, we’re now been wrenched out of Europe against our will. Johnson and Cummings may be pretending to have parted ways, but it’s obvious that the dishonest techniques they employed during the Brexit referendum are now being transposed to Scotland and the denial of our democratic voice.

READ MORE: LISTEN: Oliver Mundell in absolute car-crash interview as he tries to defend PM

No wonder there were hardly any Scottish Tories available for interview the morning after Johnson’s bombshell. Just days before their own party conference it would seem that their leader is on a very different page from the Scottish electorate. It will be very hard for Douglas Ross to spin this insult to Scotland or get any distance from Johnson’s obvious distaste at what he regards as our insubordination. Even their ex-Tory advisor, Andy Maciver commented: “If the SNP could write the Unionist strategy, it would look exactly like this ... to say this about devolution is total madness."

Of course, those of us living in Scotland know that devolution has been the very opposite of a disaster. Now more and more of us realise that not choosing independence and being forever tied to the whims of Westminster rule however, will be.

Johnson’s lack of self-awareness is quite something. It is he and his sovereignty-obsessed gang who are the separatists and the narrow nationalists, who are pushing away the devolved nations, be they run by Labour, the SNP or a coalition.

Johnson thinks that devolution was “Tony Blair’s biggest mistake”. Now it looks like Johnson is the Union’s “biggest mistake”.

Scotland? It’s time. It’s time. It is time.