This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

Labour’s ming vase strategy is, by now, well known. Sir Keir Starmer is walking over a skitey floor holding onto some priceless porcelain. All he needs to do is get to the other side of the room without dropping it.

That means avoiding anything risky.

It doesn’t make for exciting politics, but given that his party are now 20 points ahead of the Conservatives, it seems to be working. 

It’s a strategy the Scottish Tories would have done well to try and copy. 

Even just a week ago they looked to be safe from the chaos engulfing their colleagues south of the border. 

They looked certain to hold on to the six seats they won in 2019. While their vote had gone down, so too had the SNP’s, the nearest rival in each of the constituencies. 

If they had avoided risk, avoided anything that might cause a trip and a crash they could, so the pollsters suggested, hold on to their six seats.

Indeed, there was even talk of taking other constituencies off the SNP.

Will that still hold true after the mayhem and bedlam of the last few days?

The sacking of David Duguid, the shenanigans that saw him replaced by Douglas Ross, the fallout which saw allegations of ‘dodgy’ expense claims leaked to press by an unhappy Tory would have been bad enough on their own. 

But when they’re added to the still rumbling row around Rishi Sunak leaving the D-Day celebrations early and a manifesto that doesn’t seem to have done enough to stem the bleeding… well it’s not much for Tory voters to get enthused about. 

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One North East SNP source told me they couldn’t believe their luck. They were expecting a tough fight for the seats, but really the priority was holding on to what they had. 

Now they think they might even make some gains.

Still, there are another three weeks until polling day. Sir Keir Starmer’s still carrying his ming vase. John Swinney’s carrying his own chipped and superglued back together vessel. The floor’s still skitey. Anything can happen.

But it does seem as if we are at something of a crossroads for both the Scottish and UK Tories. 

What sort of direction will the UK party head in after what could very well be an abominable result at the election?

It seems unlikely that Reform will have much of an impact north of the border. They have managed to get candidates in all 57 seats, as promised – a promise I didn’t expect them to keep. 

In fairness, some of those candidates seem to be paper candidates – their Westminster hopeful in Glasgow South West where I live comes from South Derbyshire. I’m not expecting to see much of her over the next few weeks. 

South of the border, they present a real threat to the Tories. A recent Redfield and Wilton poll shows them in front of Rishi Sunak’s party among over-55s. 

There’s a resignation among some in the party that there will soon be a poll showing “crossover,” with Reform moving ahead of the Conservatives nationally. 

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They may only win a handful of MPs, maybe only Nigel Farage in Clacton, but they could take enough votes off the Tories to do them real damage.

Earlier this week, former home secretary Suella Braverman, suggested Farage be welcomed back into the party to “unite the right”.

To be fair to Farage, he wasn’t keen. “All marriage plans are off”, he told the Telegraph.

It’s also worth noting his answer earlier this month – before he announced his own bid for Westminster – when he was asked by the Times if he could ever foresee a merger between Reform and the Tories. 

“More like a takeover, dear boy,” he responded. 

On Tuesday morning, I asked Douglas Ross if he would welcome Farage joining the Tories. 

Andrew Learmonth asks Douglas Ross about his decision to run as an MP and the influence of Nigel Farage (Image: PA)
“No, Nigel Farage is the leader of another party. He is seeking votes from voters against the Conservatives so I don't believe he has a place or a future in the Conservative Party.”

There are plenty of others in the party – like leadership hopeful Kemi Badenoch – who agree. But there are many who think the Tories should go to where their voters are. 

Douglas Ross’s resignation means he’ll need to be replaced. 

The problem for any MSP thinking of throwing their hat into the ring is that it’s all a bit Deal or No Deal.

The favourite to win the contest is Russell Findlay, with Meghan Gallacher a close second. 

Either would work well with Badenoch, I’m not sure I can see either cuddling up to Farage or Braverman.