I TRUST that SNP strategists are watching the Conservative Party leadership campaign with a glint in their eye. As each day passes, a host of succulent opportunities present themselves for inclusion in the next party broadcast. Hell, you could build an entire campaign around this lot.

The rest of us should simply sit back, get the popcorn out and enjoy the Tory leadership contest for what it is – an extended director’s cut advert for Scottish independence. All that’s now required is the proper setting and a rattling soundtrack.

The SNP ought not to spare the horses on this one – it should be a feature-length production. May I suggest some bleak footage of a dystopian wasteland and John Carpenter’s portentous orchestral theme for Escape From New York?

Near the start of the millennium the phrase “race to the bottom” was coined and, like most other dapper idioms, became ragged with over-use. Yet no other arrangement springs to mind when you behold this assemblage of right-wing extremists, reactionary tub-thumpers and outright psychopaths.

It’s as if they all know the party is nearly over and have thus decided to go full Tory, six-fingered banjo-playing tonto. The masks are being discarded and we are seeing the true nature of the ultra-Conservative beast.

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Here’s what Kemi Badenoch said as she officially launched her leadership campaign. It was a neat summation of what most of her rivals are pledging. “You can’t have your cake and eat it. It’s time to tell the truth – for too long politicians have been telling us that we can have it all. You can have your cake and eat it. And I’m here to tell you that that isn’t true. It never has been. There are always tough choices in life and in politics. No free lunches; no tax cuts without limits on government spending; no stronger defence without a slimmer state. Governing involves trade-offs and we need to start being honest about that.

“Unlike others I’m not going to promise you things without a plan to deliver them. Later ‘we’ve had a poor decade for living standards; we’ve over-burdened our economy: there’s too much unproductive public spending.”

And here’s the translation: “Only very rich people can have their cake and eat it. This has always been true. And I’m here to ensure that this won’t change on my watch. So, we’ll cut spending on services that benefit the majority. And anyway, they’ve had a decade of poor living standards, so they’ll be used to it.”

Rishi Sunak, who now appears to be the favourite to succeed Boris Johnson is one for the watching. As he launched his own leadership bid he was at pains to claim credit for record spending on the armed services. The defence of the realm will feature on the agendas of the other nine hopefuls.

The UK is a leading player in Nato, the world’s most powerful and aggressive military alliance. It built its empire by invading and looting so many countries that its national flag should have an image of an ankle tag on it. When the British Government talks about “defence” it really means “attack”. Just ask the people of Kosovo, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Sierra Leone.

It’s currently committing billions to conduct a proxy war against Russia by using Ukraine as its geo-political pawn after a decade of diplomatic aggravation by Nato.

When Conservative politicians are cornered they always fall back on military might.

They’re often assisted in this by deluded dupes in other parties and among the commentariat who are similarly transfixed by the sunglasses, helmet and black uniform approach to ‘defence’.

Sunak, like many of his Conservative forbears, channels British patriotism but is slightly more lukewarm about it in practice. His green card effectively gave him dual nationality status with the US, a handy asset, I suppose, if you want to become leader of its principal client state. His wife – one of the richest heiresses on the planet – still seems fraught with financial anxiety.

She turned to non-dom status which permits her to avoid paying into the exchequer which her husband thinks is struggling to meet the demands of the cost-of-living crisis. Sunak somehow forgot to mention either of these rather startling factoids. But hey, let’s all build back better.

Most of the Conservative leadership candidates have chosen to adopt Priti Patel’s racist Rwandan scheme. This is a step up from Theresa May’s hostile environment project to isolate and deport Britain’s West Indian Windrush generation.

It involves bribing an impoverished third world country with a dodgy human rights record to host the sort of people the Conservatives regard as the scum of the earth.

They’re all enthusiastic about scrapping the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, a move they know will present a grave threat to the fragile peace process in the world’s most artificial statelet. Perhaps this will deliver some future opportunities to focus some of its “defence” spending by sending the troops onto the streets of Belfast and Derry once more.

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One of the leadership candidates is the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, the principal legal adviser to the British Government, there to ensure that ministers act at all times within UK and international law.

However, Braverman thinks we should leave the European Court of Human Rights because it thwarted initial attempts to transport the victims of Britain’s historic ‘defence’ policies, stretching back centuries.

There’s a precedent for this, of course.

It involved using prison ships to take 19th century undesirables to Australia – and by jove, aren’t our prisons looking a bit over-crowded these days?

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is also in with a shout, combining a keen interest in gastronomy with a deft touch on international affairs. Her knowledge of Chinese pork markets is rivalled only by her enthusiasm for British cheese. “We import two thirds of our cheese; that is a disgrace,” she once told a bemused Tory conference – blessed are the cheesemakers.

She doesn’t know the difference between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. President Putin will be hoping those Russian oligarchs who fund the Tories can use their influence to make her defence secretary.

Sir Keir Starmer will also be watching the Tory leadership contest unfold, hoping for fresh ideas to bolster his own bid to become Britain’s next Prime Minister.

“Is there room for another Union Jack in my office? Should we bring back hanging? Isn’t it about time we invaded someone? Perhaps we need to re-introduce the Combination Acts of 1800 to outlaw strike action. The defence of the realm requires it.”