NOTHING shows the disdain with which Scotland is regarded within the United Kingdom as clearly and as devastatingly as the crisis enveloping the Conservative government. It comes via Boris Johnson’s disgraceful hypocrisy over lockdown restrictions and the web of lies he has created to hide it.

Johnson’s admission yesterday that he attended a party in the Downing Street garden – while the rest of us were denied the comfort of human contact, even in the midst of grief over the death of friends and relatives – has clearly destroyed the last shreds of the Prime Minister’s moral authority to lead the country.

Even that admission was dragged out of a Prime Minister who felt himself under no obligation to tell the truth about whether this – or any other – party was held at Downing Street and whether he attended.

It was bad enough that his lies were concocted in a cynical bid to save his political skin. Even worse was the fact that they were so blatant and unconvincing that they could only have come from a politician who believed the public were either too stupid or apathetic to care. How can a Prime Minister retain the voters’ confidence when he so obviously believes he owes them neither honesty nor integrity?

His actions were so egregious that even Scottish Tories were finally forced to say enough was enough, even after supporting Johnson in his eagerness to bring chaos down on the British economy simply to push ahead with his promise to “get Brexit done”.

Let’s not credit the leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross with too much moral backbone for finally rebelling against the sheer gall of the man who sits at the head of his party. Let’s not get carried away with admiration for the attack on Johnson from Ross’s predecessor Ruth Davidson, who was only too happy to accept a seat in the House of Lords from a Prime Minister she knew to be unworthy of that office. Let’s not cheer too loudly for Tory MSPs who remained silent on a catalogue of attacks on Scotland and its democratically elected parliament.

The Scottish Tories’ new-found courage to speak out against Boris Johnson is prompted not by the discovery of a moral compass but by fears that the party in Westminster had crossed a line which voters in Scotland believed to be so unacceptable that they would not longer find it in them to lend their support at the ballot box. The Conservatives will be wiped out at the next opportunity Scotland has to express its opinion in an election.

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The most enlightening result of the Scottish Tories’ revolt is not that the party’s MSPs are willing to speak out against the Prime Minister. Their action is nothing more than a desperate bid to keep lucrative jobs at Holyrood. No … what reveals the true nature of the Conservative and Unionist political philosphy is the reaction of its MPs at Westminster.

One of the biggest dangers resulting from the political coverage beamed into our homes by the BBC every day is the meek acceptance that Westminster is – and should remain – where all the really important decisions are taken, by those who are the “big beasts” of politics.

The real importance of the ultimately doomed campaign for a main 6pm news programme edited in Scotland was the challenge it would mount to that hierarchy. A flagship national news programme at 6pm produced in Scotland would have given Scottish stories their proper prominence, sometimes leading the news agenda, sometimes given less importance than events in Westminster and indeed the rest of the world. It would have given Scottish issues and Scottish politicians their correct importance.

That fight was lost when the BBC decided instead to create a whole new channel in Scotland but to keep control of the top news programme in London. The new BBC Scotland channel had done many good things – including the 9pm news show – but the impression remains in the main UK news programme that Scottish news is mostly an add-on while Westminster politicians continue to dominate the wider UK and global stages.

So Jacob Rees-Mogg feels justified in dismissing Douglas Ross as a “lightweight” within the party after the Scottish Tory leader called for the Prime Minister’s resignation. And Michael Gove can get away with an “instant response” which pointed it that Ross “is in Elgin and the national Tory leader is in London”.

Douglas Ross (below) is far from the only Scottish Tory to believe that Boris Johnson should resign. Murdo Fraser, Annie Wells and Jackson Carlaw are among those who have publically suggested that the Prime Minister’s time is up. But Rees Mogg dismisses them too, saying that Johnson has the support of more “serious and senior” politicians such as Alister Jack, laughably appointed Scottish Secretary when the Conservatives have just six MPs at Westminster compared to the SNP’s 45.

The National:

Along with most independence supporters I am no admirer of Douglas Ross but Jacob Rees-Mogg’s criticism of him is not based on his woeful performance since taking on the leadership of the party in Scotland but rather on a philosophy which considers everything Scottish as inferior to its English equivalent.

Even the most generous political commentator would find it hard to cite evidence for Rees-Mogg’s description of Alister Jack’ as “serious”. Jack is based in Westminster and therefore Rees-Mogg believes he has an authority that Holyrood politicians do not, although Jack’s steadfast support for Boris Johnson even in the most ludicrous of circumstances and his silence when pressed to support calls for his resignation are hardly disadvantages.

Rees-Mogg clung to his high opinion of Jack during a TV interview with Kirsty Wark during which he dismissed her suggestion that senior Tory figures had suggested that not a single Tory MSP now supported Boris Johnson.

IN Westminster circles the opinion of one Scottish minister in London outweighs that of 31 Tory MSPs at Holyrood – even when one of those MSPs is the leader of the Scottish Conservatives and also sits as an MP at Westminster. How will the ‘rebel’ Scottish Tories respond? What will they do if Johnson acts true to form and brazens out calls for his resignation and survives any moves from within the party to oust him?

The only acceptable answer to that question is to resign en masse. How would it be possible to remain in a party with a man you despise as a leader? Yet it would make little sense to resign and remain in Holyrood as separate independents … thus it would effectively mean the creation of a separate Scottish Conservative party, as Murdo Fraser suggested some years ago. A similar quandary presented itself to the Labour Party in Scotland when departing leader Johann Lamont revealed the UK party regarded Scotland as a branch office.

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Both of Scotland’s main unionist parties ‘ problems with operating in a UK context replicate exactly how Scotland is treated within the UK. We are dismissed as second-rate, forced into a subordinate role, told our ambitions and priorities are not serious. Our very status as a nation dismissed by politicians with no democratic mandate but who are regarded as very serious indeed simply because they’ve been given a job at the UK parliament.

It’s impossible to feel sympathy for the position Scotland’s Conservative politician find themselves in but surely it must be dawning on even them that they have run out of arguments against Scotland taking charge of its own affairs.

In an independent Scotland we can get rid of a First Minister who behaves in what we consider to be a reprehensible manner. We can vote out a government which we feel is acting against our democratic principles. Simple arithmetic rules out that option within the Union.

Scotland needs independence to fully gain essential democratic powers, to properly hold our elected representatives to account, to make sure our wellbeing is prioritised and to reach our full economic and cultural potential. This week of all weeks Unionists must realise they are all out of arguments against that ambition.