WEDNESDAY was a peculiar day in the Scottish Parliament. Despite the swirling rumours of an imminent General Election, the atmosphere, even among the media, was strangely subdued.

Polling has consistently shown a 50:50 split on the issue of independence, and my team discussed whether Scotland has moved on from the anticipation of a UK election with the increasing realisation that Scotland has no real power to sway in Westminster.

The Prime Minister’s 5pm wash-out announcement was a visual metaphor for UK politics: dull, wet, uninspiring, and rather pitiful.

Politicians seeking election here can, however, hold sway with the people of Scotland on July 4 by clearly demonstrating what each candidate stands for – and what they won’t stand for.

Alba Party’s message is consistent and clear: Independence is on the ballot. We won’t stand for the erosion of child safeguarding and women’s rights. We advocate competence in serving constituents and Scotland on a clear path to independence. We will protect and enhance Scotland’s assets for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

Contrasting the flat atmosphere in Holyrood, last week’s Alba Party conference in Lochgelly, Fife was a joyous, collegiate affair. Our members warmly welcomed our 18 General Election candidates from across Scotland, and their talent, commitment, and determination to deliver a thriving, independent Scotland for all was palpable.

The kindness, support, creativity, and ideas I’ve encountered have been overwhelming, inspiring me through the more challenging days.

The London parties’ whistle-stop tours of Scotland last week reminded me of the 11th-hour pre-referendum “intervention” of Labour politicians as they hauled their wheelie travel cases and laptops up Glasgow’s Buchanan Street to the tune from The Empire Strikes Back, thanks to a rather ingenious rickshaw rider who accompanied them, crying out, “People of Glasgow, bow down to your imperial masters”.

I recalled this wee indyref gem to an MSP colleague at an after-work event, who I’m sure has now realised that not being on the Yes campaign saw him miss out on the creative humour of what was a politically engaging and inspiring time for Scotland.

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The Prime Minister’s announcement of a General Election caught even his own party’s members by surprise – as demonstrated by the Conservatives going into freefall at Westminster, with yet more MPs announcing they would not be standing for re-election, leaving constituency associations scrambling to fill vacancies before the Electoral Commission deadline.

Rishi Sunak looks like he is just going through the motions now, while Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey seems satisfied that he’ll pick up some votes from those who have forgotten how dreadful his party was in the coalition government.

And then we have Keir Starmer’s “New New Labour” – a party that has built a campaign on promises of change. But what do they really stand for, and what won’t they stand for? Well, that question seems to have a different answer every day.

New Labour PR in the past has been legendary for saying much about very little, but it’s a big gamble to assume the public hasn’t now cottoned on to political communications teams with more spin than a 10kg front-loading washing machine.

“Seventeen years of SNP failure in Scotland. Fourteen years of Tory failure in Westminster. It’s time to stop the chaos. It’s time for change. We’re ready,” they parrot.

Does Labour messaging like this wash with a scunnered electorate, or is there a collective “but how?” shouted out in reply to their latest comms spin cycle?

Is a mere change of rosette colour with a carbon copy policy portfolio the extent of voter aspiration?

When Starmer can’t define a woman without a verbal contortion, how does he propose to lead a legislature to protect them? When Annaliese Dodds – current shadow secretary for women and equalities – delivers word salads on conversion therapy instead of clarity, how can she lead a policy with critical implications for healthcare, education and family life?

Dr Hilary Cass, and Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology Dr Sallie Baxendale, have made it clear that an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and this is critical when it comes to the harms of medicalisation with unevidenced benefits to children and young people.

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We must pause and reflect on how a now-discredited affirmation policy was allowed to push through even long-established safeguarding in healthcare, education and prison policy and legislation.

Now that we know better, the voting public will expect better – we must all do better. Cass’s independent review of gender identity services for children and young people has left no excuse for politicians not to ensure commitment to Cass compliance, health, education and legislation.

Self-identification is not the law in Scotland, yet the Scottish Government has allowed the Sword of Damocles to hang over a Scottish public that never voted for it. Whether the First Minister hopes that Westminster’s next government will lift the Section 35 order that has prevented the Gender Recognition Reform Bill from becoming law, or is relying on the UK Government to retain it to avoid another SNP political meltdown and inevitable judicial review if the bill does gain Royal Assent, is unclear.

We’ve seen the former former first minister, the female former first minister, usually an accomplished communicator, shrivel up over explaining whether a male rapist in a blonde wig, initially housed in the female prison estate, was a woman.

As further scandals add to the mounting pile for the Scottish Government – the latest from the Employment Tribunal judgment won by Roz Adams against her former employer, Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre – isn’t this General Election campaign the time lessons really were learned by politicians?

The public demands clarity, transparency, accountability and honesty to give them something to vote for instead of choosing between the least harmful options.

Alba Party has set the bar high in Scotland, and for the sake of democracy, I hope others rise to this and inspire the people of Scotland that they have something to vote for again.