YOU could almost feel sorry for the Scottish Conservatives during this trying time – if not for their commitment to terminal obstructionism in the Scottish Parliament. Having spent the past number of years dodging any real policy commitments beyond “no surrender, no referendum” – even in local council elections where it couldn’t be less relevant – Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross is now facing the consequences of putting dogmatic Unionism above accountability.

If ever there was a day that it would be politically expedient to create a little distance from our betters in London, this would be it for the Scottish Conservatives. Though to do so would be to undermine the message of rigid subservience to Westminster that remains central to the party.

While Ross has talked up his willingness to steadfastly stand up to the big boys of Whitehall in the past, his time as leader of the Scottish Conservatives is better defined as an elaborate game of political hokey cokey.

He resigned from Johnson’s government over Dominic Cummings’s continuing on as an adviser to the PM after breaking lockdown rules, then immediately parachuted into leading the Scottish Conservatives at His Minister’s pleasure. He submitted a letter of no-confidence in Boris Johnson to the 1922 Committee then withdrew it. Part-time MP. Part-time MSP. Part-time referee. In. Out. In. Out. Shake it all about.

Frankly, it’s surprising he isn’t more liked within the Conservative Party, given their apparent love for party games.

Which really brings us on to that video. You’ll find coverage of the fall-out in today’s National. You’ve probably seen the clip. And if you’re like me, you felt it too – a hard, little ball of anger at the total contempt with which the Conservatives have treated all of us through the pandemic and beyond.

It’s one thing to know how the Tories behaved during lockdown, while we were isolated and alone, caring for the wellbeing of others. But it’s another thing to see their reckless disregard in full colour. And that’s only what was recorded. Who knows the full extent of what went on behind the closed doors of Downing Street.

For me, it wasn’t the questionable dancing, nor fashion choices, that particularly left a mark (though honestly, somebody should have a word). It was the smirking contempt as one guest laughed about “bending the rules” that made it wholly clear that this was not a mistake. Not so much “bending” the rules as breaking them like your old shatter-resistant school ruler, twanged between two back-to-back desks until it would finally give way with a sharp snap. This was a clear and conscious decision.

It’s representative of the culture of superiority that seeps from Westminster; the sneering, derision of the upper class, and the British exceptionalism that has scorched the world through centuries.

This is what the Scottish Conservatives believe best represents us. This culture. This party. All of it, superior to holding the political power to make change in Scotland ourselves. It’s a hard sell for Douglas Ross, yet he seems desperate still to play the ticket tout.

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Come one, come all, and see what you could have if you’ll only back Britain! Marvel at the legacies of her towering leaders. See Boris Johnson, disgraced and spiteful. And there, Liz Truss, the human personification of shit hitting the fan; over in an instant, but with a lot of cleaning up still to do. And now Rishi Sunak, whose reckless, uninspired government cares more for stoking a right-wing culture war than fixing the mess of his predecessors.

If Ross didn’t seem so keen to parrot the same rhetoric himself, I’d have thought he may be feeling especially sorry for himself to be associated with such a carnival of cruelty. But no. He’s still trying to sell us tickets for the front row.

It’s true that, in tying themselves so thoroughly to the case for independence, the SNP risked the future of the Yes movement; weaving their own fate into that of the case for leaving the UK and setting off on our own path. But the same is true also for that particular brand of Unionism that is most associated with the Conservative Party, and which has most come to define the No campaign.

That’s not so different from 2014, really. The No campaign seemed far more rooted in Conservatism and David Cameron’s party than that of Labour or the Lib Dems – even if Alistair Darling was, on the face of it, leading the charge. It wasn’t until very close to the end of the summer of 2014 that the case from solidarity really took the foreground.

And since, it has taken a backseat once more to an aggressive Unionism that mirrors the Conservative Party’s own descent into increasingly illiberal and intolerant thinking.

The Conservatives want to sell us their contempt. Well, I’m not buying tickets to that show. We all deserve better.