“SCOTLAND deserves so much better. It needs real change,” declared Kemi Badenoch in The Times on Monday. Hurrah! Finally a Tory leadership contender talking sense.

But wait – could this really be one of the candidates acknowledging that the status quo isn’t working? What kind of “real change” is she pledging to bring about, should she become Prime Minister of the UK?

Oh, wait. She doesn’t appear to be offering any solutions at all to the problems she identifies with our educational standards, NHS performance and violent crime rates. In her view, it seems, the root of the problem is the SNP being in power at Holyrood. Or to put it another way – it’s the silly old Scottish voters repeatedly putting them there. The “real change” she wants to see is the Scottish electorate coming to their senses.

She stops short of suggesting, as Penny Mordaunt laughably did, that her election will lead to a sudden Conservative revival north of the Border and the collapse of the “yellow wall”, but her plans appear a little more sinister and perhaps even more delusional. “We need to make sure every level of government is working for Scotland,” she writes. “And that is what I will deliver.”

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How exactly will she deliver this? The diminishing number of Tory councillors in Scotland can only get anything done by getting into bed with their Labour rivals, the rag-tag bunch of Z-list Tory MSPs are led by a humiliated weathervane, and the so-called Scottish Secretary thinks our MSPs should “suck it up” rather than complaining about Westminster riding roughshod over the devolution settlement.

“I won’t be afraid to call out the SNP when they let Scotland down,” Badenoch declares, which is refreshing because we’ve definitely not been getting enough of that from the current Tory government. Boris Johnson is notoriously polite whenever questioned on the record of the Scottish Government, at pains to acknowledge the SNP have a democratic mandate and accordingly keen to respect the decisions of Scottish voters. Sure, he’s occasionally slipped up and called them the “Scottish Nationalist Party”, and also pushed through a disastrous hard Brexit against our wishes – but those were easy mistakes to make.

Those who had their “Tories talking Scotland” bingo cards at the ready while reading Badenoch’s lofty promises will have swiftly dabbed out their first line with “devolution”, “levelling-up” and “close working”, a second with “common interests”, “failure” and and “division”, and then had their eyes down for a full house ... “ferries” – dab ... “rancour” – dab, and here it comes, get ready ... “grievance”! Bingo!

Unionists just love to talk about grievances, just so long as no-one asks them what the specific grievances are or poses any follow-up questions about whether they might – just possibly – be justified. A die-hard Tory responds to the word “grievance” like a dog to “biscuit”: with an excited cock of the head and moderate salivation. There’s nothing worse than a grievance-monger, a moaning Minnie, a grumbling Greta.

The correct response to anyone verbalising anything that sounds like a grievance is to roll your eyes, jut out your chin and sigh dramatically in manner of a stroppy teenager being told to tidy his bedroom. If the aggrieved individual keeps talking, blow a raspberry, and keep blowing it until they stop. It’s like a filibuster, except you can deploy it even when you aren’t in parliament.

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If anyone asks you what just happened, just roll your eyes and say “yet more grievances”, and they will likely roll their eyes back in sympathy before getting on with their day.

Raising a grievance sounds a bit too much like something a pleb might do to try to challenge poor treatment at work – exactly the sort of “workers’ rights” nonsense that the Tories hope to stamp out in post-Brexit Britain. Raise a grievance all your like, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s about a democratic deficit, a constitutional Catch-22 or being bullied by Priti Patel – no-one wants to hear about it.

The best bit about all of this is that it gives the Tories licence to be as awful to Scottish politicians as they like, because anyone rising to the bait can simply be accused of over-reaction or, worse still, grievance-mongery. The new Prime Minister could address Ian Blackbeard of the Scottish Nazi Party and still find a way to blame the SNP’s Westminster leader if he were to complain about it. Just how much provocation is to come, and how much turning of the other cheek will be required?

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Unionists are desperate to rewrite history by suggesting we were all at each other’s throats in 2014 and such savagery will be repeated should there ever be an indyref2. They mock and belittle the aspirations of Yes supporters, trying to goad these supposedly rancorous individuals into a response they can then dub “the ugly face of nationalism”. They always fail, and when the response is reasoned objection to ill-treatment past and present, sounding the “grievance” klaxon is the only tactic they’ve got.

Their playground retorts can’t keep working forever. Eventually they’ll run out of puff, or saliva, or both. So let’s keep giving them grief.