DESPITE the fact we are still awaiting the first Scottish opinion poll following the British Government’s last-minute Brexit deal, it ought to be obvious enough that Johnson’s shoddy deal has not united the Scottish nation in grateful acceptance of Brexit, far less re-assured Scotland that this Conservative Government has Scottish interests at heart.

Notwithstanding the plaintive calls from the Scottish Tories for us all to get behind the deal now that it’s a fait accompli, popular anger in Scotland at what the Tories have done seems only set to intensify as the realities of being outside the European single market and customs union and deprived of our previous right of freedom of movement manifest themselves.

Since the EU deal appears to have failed to achieve the Conservative objective of making a serious dent in the momentum of the independence movement, the Tories and their allies have switched to a new and even more desperate tactic.

Magnus Llewellin, the editor of the Scottish edition of the Conservative-supporting Times newspaper, penned an editorial last week calling for this May’s Scottish elections to be postponed, citing the coronavirus epidemic as the reason. He was joined in this call in an article in The Scotsman by the former Scottish Conservative spin doctor John McLellan, a call backed up in the same newspaper by arch-Unionist former Conservative MSP Brian Monteith – who not too long ago was writing pieces opposing another lockdown.

Of course, in demanding the suspension of Scottish democracy, the Conservatives are purely motivated by considerations of what is in the best interests of public health measures. In no way are they seeking to postpone an election because the electorate appears likely to vent its ire on a Conservative party which has imposed Brexit on Scotland and elect a pro-independence Scottish Parliament which will have been returned with the pursuit of independence as its top priority.

They would, of course, be making the exact same call if the polls were showing it was the SNP who were on course for a historic defeat and not the British establishment-.

And if you believe that, you probably also believe Alister Jack is a great champion for Scottish interests in the Cabinet and that the Orange Order is primarily an organisation dedicated to traditional folk music.

Brian Monteith is at least honest in his nakedly anti-democratic aims. He mentions in his piece in The Scotsman that postponing the Holyrood election would send a message to independence supporters that an independence referendum wouldn’t be able to happen this year either.

This, he hopes would give time for Scottish anger about Brexit to subside, and for us to appreciate the “benefits” of having to stand in a long line at immigration along with Russians and Kazakhs upon arrival at an airport in the EU, only being allowed entry for a limited time period, and required to pay for expensive travel insurance in case of a medical emergency.

The elections should not be postponed, and the self-interested demands of Conservatives should be resisted. These are in many cases the same Conservatives who have been complaining about bars and restaurants being closed due to the pandemic and who now apparently believe that going for a pint is far more important than the exercising of democracy.

READ MORE: Experts insist vital Scottish Parliament election MUST go ahead

The Tories were joined in their faux concern for Scottish public health by Blair McDougall of Better Together, who suggested the Scottish election should be delayed until next year. It’s hard to resist the conclusion that his suggestion was motivated by the fact May’s election gives the voters of Scotland the opportunity to cast their verdict on how the promises and commitments of the Better Together campaign that he headed have actually been implemented in practice.

It’s a verdict that is likely to be damning. The UK that Scotland is a part of is not the UK that he and his colleagues promised to us in 2014.

It is, of course, entirely possible to conduct an election in a safe manner, even during a pandemic and numerous countries have gone ahead with their elections despite coronavirus. In fact, it could be argued it is even more important for elections to go ahead at a time when the pandemic means governments are being forced to introduce measures which have a serious impact on civil liberties.

The Scottish Government has sensibly left open the possibility of extending the voting period from one day to two or three days in order to allow for social distancing at polling stations and for voting booths to be disinfected between users. Planning is well advanced to ensure votes can be counted and results announced in a way that does not put any vote tellers, election officials, or candidates at any additional risk. However, there is a very real risk of damage to public trust in our democratic institutions if the elections do not go ahead.

By May, it is reasonable to hope that everyone in a vulnerable group and a significant proportion of the rest of the population will have received the coronavirus vaccine. It is also possible for people to vote by post and for most campaigning and electioneering to be carried out online via the traditional media, or in a safe and socially distanced way.

Absolutely no-one in Scotland is proposing to hold electoral virus super-spreader events like Trump’s rallies during the US election. There is no reason at all that the election need be associated with any increased risk of virus spread.

What we are seeing now with calls to postpone the Scottish election has nothing to do with any concern for public health and has everything to do with the British nationalist parties and media outlets running scared of the democratic will of the people of Scotland now they can see control slip out of their grasp.

In doing so, they are merely re-inforcing the most powerful argument for Scottish independence, that it is only through independence and with a government directly responsible to the people of Scotland and no-one else that Scotland can enjoy true democracy.