HERE we go again; the curse of the Thursday column deadline.

By the time you read this you’ll know the result of the referendum on EU membership but, as I sit here typing, I don’t.

Unlike seven weeks ago, when nobody seriously doubted an SNP win in the Holyrood election, there is genuine doubt about today’s result. Although some of the polls have tilted in favour of Remain in the last few days it’s still nail-bitingly close, especially if predictions of a more lethargic turnout from pro-EU voters prove accurate. Also, unlike an election, this time we risk more than just a few years’ bad government. The result of this one – whichever way it goes – seems likely to set the context for lasting political change. So I thought I’d use this column to discuss some aspects of the debate that will still be relevant regardless of which headlines you’ve been reading.

Perhaps one of the oddest things about this referendum has been the window it’s given us in Scotland into the political culture down south. It’s true that most UK elections are dominated by media coverage coming from London, but this has been something altogether different. The absurd patriotism, the mean-spiritedness, the immigrant-baiting, the powerful grip that “post-truth” politics seems to have taken. In the last few weeks it’s been more apparent than ever before that this is a political landscape we simply don’t recognise, and I strongly suspect that it won’t just be those who voted Yes in 2014 who feel this way.

One of the most persistent features has been the constant drip-feed of prejudiced, racist and xenophobic media content. Day after day, some papers have produced a relentless torrent of propaganda designed to blame every ill of the country on the people least responsible for causing it: benefit claimants, Muslims, disabled people, and especially migrants, migrants, migrants. Barely even a word of recognition that the refugee crisis is a disaster affecting real human beings, some of the most desperate people on the planet.

For a brief moment, when the image of Alan Kurdi’s body captured a glimpse of the ongoing human tragedy, there was a pause. Then the bile started pouring again, as though nothing had happened.

There is a deep political alienation in the UK, as there is in many places. It has manifested in the Brexit campaign, just as it manifests in the Trump campaign in the US, and in a range of racist and far-right movements in Europe. We’ve seen less of the outright fascist tendencies than some countries, but the shocking killing of Jo Cox can give us no comfort that that will continue.

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp: UK is a nation that’s out of date and out of time

European press near-unanimous in pleading for the UK to vote Remain

What on Earth? The weirdest moments of a very weird EU referendum campaign

Scotland has spoken - what now? High turnout as Britain decides its future with Europe

Letters II: The Remainers have been patronising, simplistic and evasive

Much of the anger and resentment these forces tap into is justified, but in truth it is the result of a broken economic system that serves the interests of the wealthiest at everyone else’s expense. To a large degree those responsible for creating that economic system are the same people who exploit this anger and resentment to sow division and hatred, and to impose austerity on the country. Many of the same people and interests have been manipulating it to promote the Brexit cause.

But the underlying problem will still be there whether the result is Leave or Remain – the need for a compelling politics of the common good that is internationalist and unites people instead of dividing them. Greece and Spain have shown that this is possible, and the ground for it seems more fertile in Scotland than in much of the UK. But there remains much work to turn that potential into reality across Europe as a whole.

Scotland can play an important role in that, building relationships with progressive forces across Europe, and whether our immediate goal is now to defend our rights as current EU citizens in the wake of a Brexit vote or, as I fervently hope, to ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard at the EU table with the UK as a remaining member state, we’ll need to keep all options open.

Inevitably, there will be questions in Scotland about what the referendum result means for independence. Many people will simply feel scunnered with the series of elections and referendums we’ve already had, while others will doubtless be raring to go already. On this aspect, my polling-day deadline is an even bigger disadvantage; I suspect the answer will depend more on people’s reaction to the result than on the result itself.

One prediction I do hope will have relevance in either a Remain or a Leave scenario: that we can settle in over summer to watch the implosion of the Conservative Party.

Someone pass me the popcorn.