I HAVE just watched the most contrived farce at the Tory party conference. They clearly wish to get the message out to the electorate and their faithful that they are the party of Union. It is clearly the lip service part of the conference.

Chaired by a Tory MSP in Scotland, Michelle Ballantyne, the panel on the stage consisted of “Union Jack” Secretary of State for Scotland, Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, both of whose names I have never heard of before. No doubt the product of the merry-go-round of Tory ministers whose jobs change daily.

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Conspicuous by their absence was the Secretary of State for England. The fearsome foursome is actually a threesome. There isn’t one, as England runs the show under the guise of the UK! These three took the opportunity to report in how badly the devolved nations’ parliament and assemblies were being run. The rather bemused, silent audience tried to look interested but as the cameras rolled they were all “heads down” engrossed in playing with their mobile phones, with small numbers coming up for air with limp clapping at designated breath stops. Such was their interest in the fearsome threesome.

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Firstly up steps Alister Jack, saviour of the Union, who commences to deliver the most dull, limp, stuttering delivery extolling the virtues of the great success of the Tories in Scotland ( I cannot say Scottish Tories as there are no Scottish Tories in Scotland, only Tories). It reminded me of a school pupil mugging up word for word for a school presentation. The content was, as you would expect, full of inaccuracies, bereft of the real facts and full of false news. The biggest surprise was that the SNP wanted independence! I could go on and on about the all aspects of his “SNP bad” content but I would glaze over! We have all heard it before in spades!

His view that the Tories would win elections in Westminster and Holyrood did, however, stretch the imagination. His praising of “Remain Ruth” sounded patronising and hollow, especially coming from a strident No-Deal Brexiteer.

Back now to this contrived, surreal Q&A panel on the stage. Up stepped the Secretary for Northern Ireland and once again the platitudes – the Irish backstop and what the Tories would do after Brexit. Just the same hot air Jack gave about Scotland. Again, Ms Ballantyne asked for questions from the audience, again the same inept questions were met with the same prepared replies. Up stepped the Secretary for Wales, who berated Labour in Wales and not much else. By then, to any critical individual watching this Devolved Nations spectacle, it would become clear that this pathetic attempt by the Tories to be “seen to be concerned” about the other nations in the precious Union was a completely amateur side show in front of a completely indifferent, bored audience.

The only rather sinister aspect, but not surprising, was the declaration by all three Secretaries that they were stepping up their interference and meddling in the devolved nations. This of course was already happening in Northern Ireland, which has no Stormont at present. Jack took great pride in highlighting the UK Government hubs in Scotland and the investments they are making directly, thereby bypassing Holyrood. All this being justified by saying that in the past the devolved nations were left to get on with it. The Tories were now going to make sure the “Union Jack was going to fly” a lot more in these countries in future. As I said in a previous letter, this is the beginning of their onslaught on the whole devolution settlement.

Please note the Tories never wanted devolution and never wanted our parliament. If they are returned to power in the next General Election they will see this as a mandate to stop independence and without being overly dramatic, consign our parliament to history.

Be vigilant and be ready to oppose their agenda at every turn.

Dan Wood

IT could never last: keeping Jamie Stone away from a journalist would fail eventually. His minder must have gone AWOL, allowing him on live television. Even for Stone, saying that Jeremy Corbyn would be worse than a No-Deal exit was astonishing. Presumably after a roasting from his minder he denied he’d said it.

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Foot-in-the-mouth Stone has had a collection of gaffes in the past. He had to make a public apology for calling the SNP xenophobic, ie anti-English. He had to defend spending £88,000 on a reception desk for Holyrood. His no-surrender campaigning against Dr Paul Monaghan was the worst kind of electioneering that I have ever witnessed. However, he’s in the right party of MPs who seem to have a penchant for terminological inexactitudes.

Mike Herd

FINALLY we have some details of Boris’s new fix for the Irish backstop: Northern Ireland will in effect stay in the single market. So why not Scotland, which has rejected Brexit at least four times? Because we don’t count, and never did. The campaign begins on November 1, deal or no deal.

Robert Fraser

MHAIRI Stuart, just before 6pm on Wednesday evening, was on BBC Radio Scotlandshire interviewing Stephen Gethins, who set out his objections to the inevitably costly and dishonest strategies being punted by Boris and his cohorts. She countered his objections to the damage that any of the Brexit scenarios will do to his constituents and to Scotland in general with “but that has nothing to do with Scotland”. We knew anyway, of course, that Pacific Quay’s perspective is set in stone by their English bosses, but it was repugnant and shocking all the same to hear it so blatantly and shamelessly articulated.

Colin Stuart
Saline, Fife