The faces of the Scottish Tory party press officers said it all. 

Surrounded by reporters demanding to know why No10 had barred swathes of the media from a Q&A with Rishi Sunak, they could only sigh and roll their eyes in sympathy.

This was Downing Street’s fault. Big time.

And so began one of the strangest, most self-defeating episodes seen at a Scottish political conference in recent years.

The reporters, this one included, were rightly miffed at being excluded from what’s known in the trade as a ‘huddle’, an off-camera, ask-me-anything chat with a senior politician.

As we arrived at the SEC in Glasgow, we knew there was to be one with the Prime Minister.

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What only became clear at the eleventh hour was this only be for the favoured few, including the titles most supportive of the Tories.

The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express miraculously made the cut. 

The Times, Scottish Sun and P&J were also invited, as was the PA news agency.

Everyone else was excluded - not just from asking a question, but from the room itself.

There was not even a chance to listen and make notes.

The Herald: Chaos

As the Scottish Tory press team relayed the news with hangdog expressions, a mini revolution ignited in the snaking corridors around the Lomond Auditorium.

When the chosen ones - swiftly nicknamed the Subservient Seven - were ushered backstage to meet the PM, everyone else simply followed them. 

There were a few attempts to tell people to stay put, but they were universally ignored.

On and on marched the comrades. 

When the shoe-leather crusade reached the allotted room, a No10 handler gave in.

“Ok, you know what? Let them all in,” she harrumphed. 

The hacks poured through the door followed by a throng of TV cameras.

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Despite the manifest failure of their attempt to micromanage the event, No10 kept trying. 

Warned they were rapidly becoming the story themselves, they ticked off broadcasters for filming them. It wasn’t appropriate, they said. The cameras kept taping. 

When No10 tried to limit the event even more, threatening Mr Sunak might do virtually nothing, tempers flared. No10’s emissaries were told their efforts were an embarrassment.

It all got very ‘handbags’ very quickly. 

There is always tension between the media and a political party.

One wants stories, the other wants puffery.

But it’s rare for things to go so badly awry. 

In trying to hand-pick the PM’s questioners, they picked a fight with everyone else. 

It was as dumb as it was foreseeable. 

In the end, Mr Sunak didn’t run away, and agreed to a revised Plan A - the original chosen ones, but with everyone else staying in the room to listen.

It lasted five minutes and he said nothing of note, merely parroting prepared lines.

Even a question about the BBC chairman resigning got an answer about the cost of living.

An hour had been wasted on a pointless stand-off, goodwill squandered, and a host of negative headlines generated about Downing Street control-freakery.

The faces of the Scottish Tory press officers had the last word too: 'thank God it wasn’t us!'