WHENEVER anyone joins the Conservative Party, a string of fake pearls should be included as part of the membership fee.

Tory members need them so that they can be clutched during one of the Conservatives' regular bouts of performative outrage.

However, it's safe to say that the Tories' latest attempt to play the victim has not been going at all well – you might even say that in a delicious irony, the Tories have become the victims of their traditional claim to victimhood.

The First Minister's answer to a question in a BBC interview with Laura Kuenssberg about whether she would prefer a Labour or a Conservative government – at least when she was able to get a word in edgeways over the constant interruptions – was that she detests the Tories and all that they stand for.

This naturally caused the Tories, aided and abetted by the BBC and much of the Scottish media, to try to whip up outrage against the Scottish Government and to elicit sympathy for their poor hurt feelings.

It's funny how Nicola Sturgeon saying that she detests the Tories should elicit such a reaction but when a Daily Mail columnist and former Conservative press secretary called Nicola Sturgeon an “overstuffed little haggis” no-one batted an eyelid, least of all the Scottish Tories who are all of a sudden so concerned about intolerant speech in politics.

However, the Tory snowflake victimhood claiming backfired spectacularly as tens of thousands of people took to social media to point out that they too detest the Tories and that if you don't want to be detested, it might help if you don’t do detestable things such as implementing morally repugnant policies like making ordinary, struggling workers fund tax cuts for the super-rich during a cost of living crisis.

You don't get to inflict poverty, death and division on millions of people for 12 years and then complain that they're using words like "detest" to describe you.

Despite the best efforts of the Conservatives and their enablers in the media, this manufactured story did not overshadow Nicola Sturgeon's keynote speech to the SNP party conference. The contrast between Nicola Sturgeon's conference speech and Liz Truss's conference speech was striking. The First Minister used her speech to detail Scotland's opportunities and potential. The Prime Minister used hers to enumerate her enemies. Which of the two is dangerously divisive? Answers on a postcard to BBC Scotland.

The thrust of Nicola Sturgeon's speech was to assert Scotland's right to decide its own future for itself and to talk about the importance of a just transition as Scotland moves away from fossil fuels to becoming the green energy powerhouse of Europe. She said that Scotland has got what it takes to be a successful independent country, adding: "It has it in abundance. Never let anyone tell us otherwise."

She also spoke of the need for the Scottish ship of state to have a steady and compassionate hand on the tiller. The need for compassion was an important theme in the speech, something noticeably lacking in the speeches delivered to the recent Conservative Party conference. Unlike Home Secretary Suella Braverman, the First Minister said that her dream was for those fleeing oppression and tyranny to be shown compassion and solidarity, not to be bundled on to a plane and flown off to a far-away dictatorship.

Compare and contrast: the Conservatives reward corporate greed, the Scottish Government increases the Scottish Child Payment and helps families struggling to pay their bills. The First Minister announced that the cost of living “bridging payment” to thousands of low-income Scottish households will be doubled from £130 to £260 when it is paid in the next few weeks.

After pointing out the rank opportunism of a Labour Party which now supports Brexit despite not believing in it, she noted that the problem for Scotland is not the party in charge at Westminster – it is Westminster itself. The First Minister stated that to ensure Scotland gets the governments and policies it votes for, it needs independence.

The cost of living crisis and the damage of Brexit are the reasons why Scotland needs independence, not reasons to delay seeking it. If, as she hopes, the Supreme Court rules in the Scottish Government's favour, there will be an independence referendum on October 19 next year, but if not, the question will be put to the people in an election – because if it is not, it will mean abandoning democracy itself, and democracy will not be abandoned. Independence is normal. If other similar-sized nations with fewer resources than Scotland can deliver better for their citizens than the UK can, then Scotland can too.

She announced the publication next week of a new economic prospectus for an independent Scotland, with a focus on the development of Scotland's massive renewable resources, a ban on fracking, the repeal of the Conservatives' anti-trade-union policies and a new investment fund to assist the decarbonisation of the Scottish economy.

But she took pains to stress that differences of political opinion aside, Scotland belongs to all of us. And therein lies the essential difference between Nicola Sturgeon and Liz Truss, the latter of whom is the real dangerously divisive politician. The First Minister gave a speech to inspire, the Prime Minister gave a speech to inspire only dread.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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