YOU could hear a pin drop at David Mundell’s party conference speech this week, but for all the wrong reasons. As the Scottish Secretary took to the stage to a rustle of lacklustre applause, his rhetoric and bluster echoed round a near-empty hall. The only prop missing was some tumbleweed.

If the Scottish Tories, as “saviours of the Union” (or so we are told), are so important to their Westminster colleagues, why were more of them not there to hear Mundell speak? Why was the hall not packed to the rafters with delegates and party activists keen to congratulate the Secretary of State riding the waves of so-called success in Scotland?

It would seem the Scottish Tories aren’t quite so important to the rest of the party as they were made to believe, or indeed, think they are. The recent pact with the DUP was evidence enough of Scotland’s position in the devolution pecking order. Perhaps Theresa May is rather more preoccupied with the thorn in her side that is Brexit and/or Boris and keeping her seat at the top table, than to worry about the relevance Mundell has in Manchester, let alone in Scotland.

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The PM may have been celebrating her mistaken opinion that Scottish independence has “gone away”, but her Cabinet man up north knows otherwise. Picking apart his speech, it was just a re-run of every other speech he’s given in the last few years – all smoke and mirrors and starkly policy-light, continuing his obsession with indyref2 and the stoking of what he calls “constitutional grievances” by the SNP. This is all he has to offer.

Never has “getting on with the day job” sounded more ironic. Nobody is very sure what Mundell actually does in his day job and, more to the point, who knows what the Scottish Tories truly stand for, if anything, other than Unionism.

And nobody is very clear on what they would actually do if they ever found themselves in a position of power. They stay silent on the darker prejudices and racism of their colleagues, pass the buck on immoral policies such as the rape clause and two-child tax credit cap, and talk of getting Scotland “Brexit ready” regardless of this going directly against the democratic wishes of the Scottish people. The devolution power “bonanza” promised after Brexit has been shown to be utterly worthless while the new Tory MPs at Westminster stay silent on defending Scotland so as not to bother their masters.

Meanwhile at Tory central office, there’s a strong possibility that an unruly and bombastic Boris may yet be in charge, complete with his diplomatic foot stuck in his mouth and his phone on speed dial to himself. It would seem that the Tory party as a whole is incapable of getting on with any day job as long as their infighting and chaotic approach to the EU continues.

Perhaps Mundell’s reticence on policy and hard facts is because he knows exactly what Scotland would be like under Tory rule at Holyrood and no amount of spin could make it look good. Young talent prevented from going to university due to crippling tuition fees, a crumbling NHS slowly being privatised through the back door, the violation of human rights of disabled people and the elderly, and the Barnett formula consigned to history.

Contrast this with the Scotland of today, where, on a diminishing budget from Westminster and with one hand effectively tied behind their back, the devolved Scottish Government has mitigated the very worst of Tory austerity in Scotland, increased employment to its highest level on record, and reduced the crime figures to a 43-year low – all the while leading the way in renewable energy, banning fracking and protecting children and the vulnerable in our society. Not to mention being voted in by the Scottish people as their chosen party of government for over 10 years.

It is not up to Nanny May to chide the children up north, nor is it up to her branch manager in Scotland to tell the people that the conversation on independence has been shut down “once and for all”. Has Mundell not seen the recent polls that put his party in third place in Scotland? Does he not know that support for independence stands at almost half the Scottish voting population? Was he so busy having his speech written that he didn’t bother to watch the news and see the Catalonians this past weekend, who despite incredible police brutality and government sanctioned force, turned up in their droves to exercise their democratic rights? It’s up to the people to decide, not the politicians or the state. The people are sovereign. If Scotland wants another independence referendum, then have it we shall, regardless of what the Tories say. “Gone away”?

I don’t think so!