The first description of the Scottish Conservatives’ leader comes from the leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the second from Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who sit alongside each other in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet. And, yes, they are all in the same party.
Clearly, voters’ assessments of Ross’s qualities and character will be vital if he is eventually to persuade them that he should be the next First Minister or, perhaps more realistically, reduce support for the SNP and independence. Equally obviously, such a public display of contempt will damage his efforts to do that.
So this blue-on-blue attack is doubly contemptuous, not only of Ross personally, but also the cause of which he is one of the leading champions – the preservation of the Union.
The reason why Rees-Mogg launched this attack is that Ross had the temerity to stick to his principles and call for Johnson’s resignation for breaking the lockdown rules. It should be remembered that Ross quit as a government minister over the failure to sack Dominic Cummings as a Downing Street aide after his infamous trip to Barnard Castle.
Amid the fallout from the row, the calls for the Scottish Conservatives to become a separate entity – in order to provide some political insulation from the missteps of their Westminster colleagues – have now been given renewed impetus, despite the gift to the SNP that declaring their ‘independence’ from Johnson and co would be.
The Nationalists' Ian Blackford was quick to exploit Rees-Mogg’s remarks – saying, “that’s what senior Tories think of their Scottish branch office manager – imagine what they think of the rest of us” – and they and other parties will no doubt continue to remind voters for some time to come.
There must be many Conservatives thinking “if only” Johnson had had the common sense and decency to obey his own rules, they would not be in this situation.
The Prime Minister may think his offence was a misdemeanour for which an apology suffices, but the ripples spreading out from the ‘Butterfly Effect’ event of his Downing Street party, his arrogance and foolishness, are growing.