THE weather was warm and generous to the Scottish Conservatives yesterday as they soaked up the sun at the close of their conference in Troon.

But weather is one thing, voters another.

Since the wipe-out of 1997, the Tories have had few fine days in Scotland courtesy of the electorate.

Handicapped by their opposition to devolution, they are a party becalmed, with one MP out of 59, and 15 MSPs out of 129.

In her first conference speech as party leader, Ruth Davidson ignored this bitter reality in favour of a superficially more palatable, but actually more poisonous, fantasy.

She claimed the Scottish Conservatives could once again be the "voice and choice" of the Scottish mainstream, as if revival was assured if only voters rediscovered their inner Tory.

To this end, Davidson announced a rebranding exercise, with a new logo to replace the party's doodled tree. But changing the letterhead won't improve the appeal of a party that rewards the tax avoidance of millionaires at the expense of low-paid pensioners.

The reality is that the Scottish Conservatives are a fringe party with delusions of grandeur, of representing, as Davidson put it, the silent majority.

The question is whether they are a fringe party with a future or wholly irrelevant. Davidson's knee-jerk hostility to more powers for Holyrood – her "line in the sand" – suggests the latter.

Despite the dogma, some in the party would embrace devolution.

MSP Alex Fergusson, the former presiding officer, wants a blueprint for substantial powers laid out before 2014 to show what a "no" vote could deliver. If such belated realism is snuffed out by Davidson, she will have only herself to blame for the slow death of the Scottish Tories.