THE Tories are upset and annoyed. Admittedly, pointing out that the Tories are upset and annoyed isn’t exactly telling anyone anything that they didn’t know. When you’re able to work yourself up into paroxysms of outrage over Gaelic road signs, like Jackson Carlaw, upset and annoyed is clearly your base state. Saying that the Tories are upset and annoyed is a bit like telling people that Nigel Farage isn’t welcome in an Edinburgh pub and expecting anyone to be surprised by the news. Saying that Poileas Alba have a Gaelic logo on their helicopter and the Tories are quite relaxed about it – now that would be news.

What the Tories are particularly upset about this week is that they’ve gone and spent loads of money on an election leaflet telling everyone the SNP is obsessed with a second independence referendum, and now it turns out the SNP aren’t being sufficiently obsessed for their liking. Nicola Sturgeon wants Scotland’s voters to consider other issues too when they cast their ballot on June 8, and that just won’t do for the Tories. It might mean that people could think about the Conservatives’ record in office, and that’s the last thing that Ruth Davidson wants. Her boss called this election so that she could get a blank cheque on Brexit, and Ruth wants to give her a blank cheque on Scotland too.

Ruth Davidson and her miserable band are fighting this election as though opposing independence is the only policy the Scottish Tories have got. Although, more accurately, it’s the only policy that they want to talk about. What do Ruth Davidson’s mob propose to do to protect and improve the NHS? “We said no and we meant it.” What’s their policy on Brexit? “The SNP are obsessed with independence.” What about welfare and benefits reform? “We don’t want another referendum.” Can you tell us about the Conservatives’ plans for pensions? “Respect the result of the 2014 referendum.”

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The reason for the Tories’ single-minded obsession with independence is because the real answers to those questions don’t paint the Conservatives in a very attractive light.

There are certainly issues with the NHS in Scotland, but they are as nothing compared to the catastrophe which is befalling the Conservative-run NHS in England. It’s being privatised by stealth, and the Red Cross described the English NHS as “a humanitarian crisis”. Voting Tory because you’re unhappy with the way the NHS is being run is like voting for Dracula because you have issues with your local blood donation service. No wonder Ruth’s policy on the NHS is, “Scotland voted no in 2014 and that needs to be respected.”

The Tory policy on Brexit is that Brexit means whatever Theresa May wants it to mean. This is an election to give Theresa May the unchallenged power to interpret Brexit in whatever fashion most suits her narrow party political interests. The Tories want us to trust in a woman who refuses to explain herself, who never knowingly gives a direct answer to a direct question, and who has all the personal warmth and humanity of the Martian South Pole. This is woman who, when asked by a radio interviewer if she knew what a mugwump was after her Foreign Secretary had called Jeremy Corbyn a mugwump, replied that she had been very clear that she would deliver strong leadership.

Although she never said where she’d be leading us, Theresa has no intention of answering any questions about that, or indeed about anything else, because she’ll be leading us wherever happens to suit her at any given time.

On welfare and benefits the Tories make the Marquis de Sade seem like Pudsey the Bear. Even the Marquis would have thought that the rape clause was a step too far. Also, Theresa May refuses to answer questions about whether she’ll protect state pensions. No wonder that they prefer to concentrate on opposing another independence referendum. It means that they can avoid scrutiny of everything else that they’re doing.

The Tories bang on obsessively about their opposition to an independence referendum because they’re hoping to attract the votes of those people in Scotland who put the Union before all other considerations. People who value the Union but who aren’t too interested in what sort of Union it has become. People who are doing okay personally, but who turn a blind eye to the carnage that the Tories wreak on the poor, the vulnerable and the low paid. The great mistake that the Tories are making is that those people are a minority in Scotland, and always will be. Most of us do care. We care about those worse off than ourselves, and we care about the sort of Union that Theresa May is turning Britain into. That’s why the Tories might make a few small gains in June but, in the longer term, they’re destroying the Union that they claim to love.