IT’S beyond irony that the Queen will appoint either Rishi Sunak or (far more likely) Liz Truss as the next prime minister of the UK in Scotland because health concerns currently rule out her return to London.

Scotland has barely featured in the contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the sense that it is one of the few subjects both candidates agree on and one of the few subjects deemed unworthy of debate. The strange British version of democracy excludes Scotland from any role in the contest. The paltry number of Tory members north of the Border effectively removes them from having any say in the result.

Those Conservative elected members in the Scottish Parliament and in Westminster have already been shown to be powerless. The vast majority wanted Boris Johnson to resign at the height of the partygate crisis but the then Prime Minister merely shrugged and ignored them.

The leader of the party in Scotland was in the ignominious position of having to reverse his position stance on Johnson’s future to maintain even a vestige of relevance when it became obvious that Johnson still had (at that stage) enough support to cling on to power.

His greatest Conservative supporter at Westminster, Alister Jack, remains in the ludicrous position of being the Secretary of State for a country that has for decades rejected the his party at the ballot box.

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With such a slim grasp on democracy, it is no surprise that the Tories feel justified in ignoring the votes of Scotland in election after election, not just by blocking the SNP manifesto commitment to hold a second independence referendum but by ridiculing SNP members of both parliaments, who have attracted far more votes than they have managed in living memory.

Only this week Truss reiterated her view that Nicola Sturgeon is an “attention seeker”, a comment that provoked a storm of protest when she first voiced it a month or so ago.

We are now at the end of the leadership campaign and we see that opposition to the referendum is of course shared by Sunak and Truss.

The latter had proclaimed herself to be “a child of the Union”. She told the audience at a hustings in Perth: “To me, we’re not just neighbours, we’re family. I will never ever let our family be split up.” Sunak’s explanation for his bid to deny Scotland’s democratic will is a classic example of doublespeak. He said he could imagine no circumstances in which he would support another referendum.

Then he moved that same Perth event into the realm of the surreal by adding: “We live in a Union which is of course there by consent and by democracy, and I accept that. But I just don’t think that anybody thinks that now or any time in the near future is remotely the time to focus on this.”

So he supports democracy by blocking “any time in the near future” a referendum for which Scotland voted for in elections for the Scottish Parliament, the Westminster Parliament and for Scotland’s local councils. Run that one past us again?

What both statements have in common is a complete refusal to engage in any meaningful debate about Scotland’s future. They both boil down to the same message: “Scotland will not get a chance to vote for a different constitutional future because we say so.”

Opponents of independence have never formulated any positive argument in favour of maintaining the Union beyond “because we say so”. Why should we suffer from immigration rules that limit our population, which we learned this week is forecast to begin to fall by 2045. Why should we face unimaginably high power bills when we are blessed with some of the world’s best renewable energy sources that meet 97% of our electricity needs?

Why should our economic system be dictated by a neighbouring country with different needs and priorities and a political culture which most Scots don’t share?

We do, however, have the chance to change that situation by first challenging Westminster’s power to block our democratically expressed will and then by voting for independence. By telling either Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak that we do not recognise their power to stop us having our say.

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The fact that polls still don’t show a substantial majority for a yes vote is worth examining. In a recent discussion between the actor Brian Cox and Nicola Sturgeon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Succession star suggested Scots suffer from a lack of confidence.

There’s a lot of evidence to back up that assertion although it attracted the usual derision from Union supporters. Cox isn’t the only one who has pointed out this week that Scots underestimate the esteem in which our own country is held.

The National yesterday quoted Ian Houston, who formerly worked in the US Congress on policy staff, saying leaders in Scotland “do not realise how well received the brand is”. He said it is a “premier brand across sectors” and a “brand that opens doors”.

And Antonia Chambers, adviser to US presidents and other policymakers in the US, has advised Scotland to build its international role and said the world must pay attention to what is happening in this country. Both Chambers and Houston were talking to former SNP MP Stephen Gethins for the second edition of his book Nation to Nation: Scotland’s Place in the World.which will be released next month.

Gethins believes the Scottish brand is more popular than that of most independent countries and holds significant potential to help drive economic recovery.

Cox’s analysis certainly resonates when you look at the reaction from many Scottish Unionists to any success or praise Scotland attracts.

Look for example at young poet Len Pennie, whose “Scots word of the day” videos posted on Twitter under the name Miss PunnyPennie became a social media sensation. The price she paid: a torrent of abuse on the social media platform so vile that it forced her off Twitter. Her crime: her passion for the Scottish language.

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Detractors are quick to dismiss any attempt to argue that Scots is a language. A column by Jonathan Brocklebank in the Daily Mail summed up their argument last week: “The Scots ‘leid’ is neither cousin or a sibling of English but a thinly disguised alter ego of the same language deployed when we are feeling couthy.”

When Cox mentioned his desire for Scotland to have more confidence, the First Minister suggested that perhaps those Scots living outside the country have a clearer view of its good points than those living here. The reaction was of course cynicism about celebrity Scots living elsewhere rather than reflection on the point being made.

The failings of the UK have rarely been so obvious. The Resolution Foundation yesterday forecast real household disposable income will fall by 5% this financial year and by 10% over the next two years. It describes the situation as the biggest squeeze on living standards in a century.

Boris Johnson had no realistic plan to save households from disaster and neither does Rishi Sunak nor Liz Truss. The Scottish Tories have refused to even sign a motion at Holyrood demanding an energy bill freeze.

Labour MSP Alex Rowley wrote to the Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, urging him to back the freeze and “not hide behind [his] Westminster colleagues”.

But the Labour Party is no more willing to show support for those fighting against spiralling costs. Keir Starmer sacked his shadow minister for buses and local transport Sam Tarry after the MP joined an RMT picket line.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has ignored his leaders’ lack of support for strike action and pitched up on picket lines over the summer. However, he’s very much against Scottish Labour cutting ties with England, never mind the whole country doing the same.

There is no hope of a radical action plan to avert the impending disaster facing the UKcoming from any of the key players south of the Border. Scotland’s only hope is gaining its independence.

I’m not sure I entirely buy into the theory that Scotland suffers from a crisis of confidence, although I think we have always underestimated the Scottish cringe. I do believe that when the independence campaign is properly underway, the positive arguments in favour of independence will begin to erode the reservations some people still have. After all, it’s hard to imagine independence making matters worse and it’s becoming easier all the time to imagine it independencemaking them better.

That campaign is not yet in full swing but we can all play our part in converting as many as possible to the cause while we wait for the Supreme Court’s decision on the Scottish Parliament’s right to hold indyref 2.

And whatever the decision turns out to be, we need to be resolute in making sure that one way or another Scotland’s people have the right to cast our votes for the type of future we want.