TODAY sees the Conservative Party conference, which will be used we are told to launch Boris Johnson’s latest strategy to “save the Union”.

Ben Riley-Smith the double-barreled Political Editor of the Telegraph has laid out the plans after talking “to half a dozen cabinet ministers, plus Gov advisers, pro-UK camp figures.” It makes for interesting reading.

He lays out a two-pronged strategy that involves “no referendum any time soon, whatever the result of Holyrood elections in May”, and “low key campaign to counter independence by existing pro-UK bodies and a billion-pound spending spree”.

So it’s treat basic democratic principles with contempt whilst sloshing money about.

He goes on to say: “It’s a No has been the PM’s stance for a long time that he’s not about to grant a referendum. There is a desire to ­elevate that in the coming weeks, clearly and loudly laying out the arguments before May elections. The reason partly due to timings. ­Senior figures in Unionist planning want Scottish voters to fully understand why PM won’t grant a referendum Why? So if SNP wins a majority + demands ­indyref2 they can say ‘no, for reasons previously stated’. Ie: they don’t look bounced into it. But the messaging is more subtle than simply 'never'. Instead it is 'not now'. Ministers will argue it would be 'reckless' + 'madness' to hold a vote on a huge constitutional change during a once in a century killer pandemic.”

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Interestingly, he goes on to spell out that ministers believe the web of pro-UK campaign groups/think tanks already out there can lead the charge. “They are watching them closely, sometimes interacting with key figures. Plus more are launching soon.”

Of these he cites Scotland Can, These Islands, Scottish Business UK, Scotland in Union, and Scotland Matters.

So the idea is to operate through these ­bodies and not directly have a campaign. They’re aware that Labour are unlikely to repeat the Better ­Together mistake of 2014.

I’m not sure how effective this will be, some of these bodies have a very low profile. Scotland in Union is great at raising money but not so great at spending it – and operate, as a whistleblower showed Bella, in very tight circles of Scottish aristocracy. By definition this is a small group. It has a lot of landed power but not much influence to a wider general public. If you own half of Perthshire you kind of think you’re the bees-knees but it’s unlikely your very street-smart.

These Islands churns out slightly odd academic(ish) articles irregularly (they last published over a month ago).

They were responsible for Neil Oliver’s gushy Paen to Britain: “I love Britain more than ­anywhere else in the world. With all my heart I declare that those of us born here, or who have made a home here by choice, are the luckiest, most blessed of all people. I am British. I will always be British.”

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Riley-Smith goes on to say (apparently seriously): “There is also blue sky thinking going on in the Cabinet. (Think on similar plains to the PM’s tunnel under the Irish Sea).”

He continues: “One of their best ideas is said to be from Jacob Rees-Mogg who is proposing the Commons sits for a fortnight each year in either Holyrood, Stormont or the Welsh ­Assembly.”

Far be it from me to put them off course but a number of aspects of the Unionists strategy seems doomed.

Riley-Smith seems oblivious to how this looks or feels to – you know – actual people living in Scotland.

He writes: “The UK Internal Market Act confirmed UK could spend in Scotland etc on devolved areas like transport and culture” but with no apparent awareness of how undermining devolution to protect the Union is perceived. He writes of Boris Johnson’s “tunnel to Ireland” project as if it’s a wonderfully popular idea being avidly followed by the people of ­Scotland. He even appears to think that the entire Tory Cabinet arriving in Edinburgh would be met with bunting and admiring locals waving the Union Jack – rather than the mass protests the likes of which he can’t imagine.

BUT fundamentally the Unionists’ strategy mistakes the drive for independence as something that can be bought off and completely underestimates the extent to which just doubling-down on denying a democratic vote “regardless of the result at Holyrood” will play in Scotland.

If Johnson really is going to attempt this strategy then this is truly great news. I can see no greater motivation for Scots of all beliefs than to be told “your election is worthless” and we don’t care how you vote.

“We treat you with contempt” is quite the campaign slogan.

The strategy reeks of political operatives who are completely out of touch, who believe they can salvage their political lives, can hide behind front groups they can secretly fund and who believe that democracy is something you can switch on and off. This is dangerous and wrong but as Napoleon said: “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

READ MORE: Tories ‘preparing for a Scottish independence referendum’ despite rhetoric

The independence movement has felt fractured and divided, much of the joy and energy has left it and everyone is feeling dispirited after a year of lockdown. But nothing could galvanise and unify the entire country than the thought of Boris and Jacob arriving with all their ­colleagues to stay for a fortnight.

The premise behind such strategies is that we are basically ungrateful. I’m not sure that they’ve really read the room.

The pent up rage about the Conservatives ­mis-handling of the pandemic, the ongoing Brexit fiasco, the scandal enveloping the royal family, the revelations about rampant Tory ­nepotism is not going to be assuaged by some naked propaganda.

The Tories are about to discover that Scottish democracy can’t be bought off.