THE more animated rantings of the SNP’s opponents are moving from the silly to the sinister. The ironically named Liberal Democrats appear to be leading the pack, suggesting that elected MPs who belong to the SNP should not be allowed to influence the government of the UK. Not very liberal; certainly not very democratic.

The SNP is a legal democratic party, seeking reform by peaceful constitutional means. It is in government in Scotland and is supported by getting on for half of the Scottish electorate. And yet to hear some of our detractors speak you’d think we were leading a violent insurgency.

Yes, we seek reform of the governance of these islands, principally by creating political autonomy. But we know full well this election is not about independence. It’s about who will best stand up for Scotland’s interests in the UK. Rest assured, when we next decide to seek a mandate from the Scottish people on whether they should govern their own country, we’ll be sure to let everyone know.

Right-wing forces trying to delegitimise voices of reform has the merest whiff of Latin America about it. It is quite disgraceful. Moreover, it is an insult not only to SNP voters but to the Scottish electorate as whole. If I get elected to parliament, should I not potentially have as much say in the running of the country as any other member? Or are some MPs more equal than others?

The Unionist parties argued that we should all work together in the UK and that Scots were a valued part of that political Union. Perhaps the promise is conditional on us only electing people that the British Establishment approves of.

The SNP does not seek to be in government in the UK. Not for us the ministerial limos and other trappings of office. But we do expect to be able to influence the government of the UK. And if our votes make a left-leaning government more likely than a right-wing one then that is simply reflecting the democratic expression of the people who elected us.

This country came alive during last year’s referendum. It is now one of the most politicised in the world. People gather in pubs to watch political debates on the TV the way they watch the footie. We’re not going to sit quietly in the corner now. If we are to remain part of the UK then we demand a say in how it is run.

You can of course expect the SNP to press a Scottish national interest. And we will be arguing for a new Scotland bill with real economic powers that will allow the Scottish Government to change lives. A lot of the time, though, the interests of our constituents will coincide with those of people throughout the UK.

It’s in all our interests to move away from the failed policies of austerity and to use government spending as the motor for growth. Working people in England will benefit from SNP votes against the privatisation of their health service. And the whole of Britain will be a safer place if we stop pretending we are still an imperial power, renewing our nuclear weapons while demanding others give up theirs.

With a strong SNP voice in government we can make sure Scotland’s voice is heard loud and clear. We can also support a more radical agenda in the UK. In truth, that’s what our opponents fear. They know these policies are popular. Rather than argue against them they try to demonise the messengers. Talk about playing the woman not the ball.