TODAY Scotland has a historic opportunity to play a decisive role in reshaping Britain’s future.

We can revert to the voting habits which have served us poorly for decades.

Or we can seize the chance to make our voice heard and in doing so make lives better not just north of the Border but also in all those areas of the UK where austerity has harshly treated millions and where the traditional political system has offered little or no hope of relief.

In the weeks leading up to today’s vote, opinion polls have been consistent in suggesting a huge swing away from Labour to the SNP. But there are still those who had yet to make up their minds before the polling stations opened today.

We would ask them to consider what a vote for Labour would mean.

Remember the promises the party made after SNP victories at Holyrood. They would change. They would rediscover the party’s soul. Remember how empty those promises turned out to be.

A vote for Labour is a vote for our views being considered irrelevant and ignored, just as they have been ignored for years.

A vote for the SNP, however, holds the potential to give Scotland a real role in creating a Britain in which the opportunity to lead a good and fulfilling life is more highly prized than creating a rich elite which takes for itself an ever-increasing share of the nation’s wealth.

This is not “holding the country to ransom” ... it is Scotland taking its place in an alliance – however loose – of a majority who oppose the policies the Coalition Government has pursued for five long and painful years.

The alternative seems to us to amount to simply doing as we are told and accepting that we should have no real power at Westminster, which retains control over so many areas of our lives.

It may seem strange to read an argument for greater engagement with Westminster in a paper that every day proclaims itself to be a supporter of an independent Scotland, just as critics have attacked the SNP for attempting to wield some power in a country “they do not want to exist”.

In truth there is no contradiction. We believe only independence will allow Scotland to fulfil its vast potential and we believe that one day a majority of people in this country will vote for it.

But the result of last year’s referendum presented Scots with a choice. We could disengage from the debate about the country we could become and go back to apathy and quiet desperation. Or we could grab hold of the enthusiasm and passion aroused by the independence debate and channel it to achieve at least some of the aims which drove that desire for change. We could accept that a vote for independence would be for another day – although we still believe that day will come – and fight the battles that need to be won now.

The opinion polls suggest we have made that choice. Today will be the proof.