IN the six years or so since I arrived late to the cause of Scottish independence it has never quite become a consuming passion. An independent Scotland was my preference rather than my heart’s desire. In the days that followed defeat in the first referendum on independence, I was disappointed rather than devastated. Our fortunes didn’t spin on the whim of a Ceausescu-like totalitarian regime. It was only jolly, old England after all, run by the same Oxford elites which had always run it and which had learned over time to make just enough concessions to the masses to keep them happy and thus maintain their dominion over them.

Proclamations and banners about Freedom for Scotland rather left me cold. Those people whose thoughts and existence were considered the personal property of the regimes which controlled Bulgaria, East Germany and Poland in the Soviet era knew what oppression was and were prepared to give their lives for real freedom. They would all have had difficulty with the concept of Scotland as an enslaved state.

And yet, some of us who had been content to abide with the constitutional status quo had lately begun to notice something dark in the politics of Westminster. We had long grown accustomed to the complacency of any Labour administration that pretended to challenge the embedded privilege and entitlement that lay at the root of the UK Government. In the end, these too were made to acquiesce in this great British charade.

Occasionally, a recalcitrant churl like Michael Foot or Jeremy Corbyn might emerge who looked as though they actually meant it when they talked about ending inequality and illuminating the ways in which corporations and banks insinuated themselves into the legislative process. Idealists like these rarely lasted long though, after they had been savaged by the handful of old Etonians and billionaires who controlled the UK press. Instead, men like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling were promoted as being tolerable once they’d ditched what remained of their radicalism before they passed through the eye of Westminster’s needle.

As the first referendum campaign began to take shape in 2013, it was becoming apparent that a more pitiless form of neoliberalism had begun to gain the upper hand in the Conservative Party. David Cameron had seen it too but simply didn’t have it in him to face down the acolytes of this turbo-charged Conservatism of the hard right. And so, he duly slunk away to enjoy the fortunes that lie in wait for all departing UK prime ministers. It seemed then that these fanatics would never countenance the prospect of even a Labour-lite government and that their lust for power and money would never properly be sated within the European Union and its penchant for regulation and human rights.

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The emergence of this bleak scenario moved many of us to begin our uneasy migration towards Scottish independence. Neither were any of us naïve enough to believe that rivers of milk and honey awaited on the other side of a Yes vote. We simply felt that in an independent Scotland there might be the chance to build something fairer and which could be protected from the predations of financial and political corruption.

The processes and events which have led us to the start of the 2019 UK General Election have exceeded our worst fears, though. We have had to reconsider our rather chilled perspective on Scottish independence. Preference is now giving way to something more urgent and visceral. The first week of campaigning suggests this election will be like no other in modern British history and not merely because it may determine once and for all our future relationship with the European Union.

When the polls close on the night of December 12, we may not even be in a position to be confident that the result hasn’t already been bought and paid for by dark money and the squalid brush of ermine. It seems that all pretence of decency and morality has been dispensed with and that every means at the disposal of Boris Johnson and the sinister clown that lurks behind him in the shadows of 10 Downing Street is now being leveraged to ensure victory and the worst possible conclusion to our relationship with Europe.

This is what we know and it won’t be the least of it. A report into possible Russian influence in UK politics has been suppressed until after the election as it’s been revealed that several large donations from Russian accounts have swelled Tory funds. A few days later, a sophisticated and potentially devastating cyber attack on the Labour Party’s IT system has been carried out (hint: it wasn’t the North Koreans).

In an interview, the former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressed her disbelief that the UK establishment is suppressing its Russia findings a few years after her campaign fell prey to a similar sting in 2015.

Meanwhile, the BBC has been caught doctoring footage of a dishevelled Boris Johnson laying a wreath upside down at the Cenotaph. This comes as a study compiled by the New Statesman magazine indicates gross BBC bias in its coverage of Jeremy Corbyn. On Monday, the final proof of the Conservatives’ descent into darkness came with its electoral alliance with Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party. Farage can’t help himself of course and duly revealed that a lordship was his for the taking in exchange.

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READ MORE: BBC apologises for odd decision to use old Johnson wreath footage

No-one believes that other bribes won’t have been offered and accepted in the event of a Tory election victory.

Farage has thus acted rather swiftly on Donald Trump’s advice last month to cut such a deal. To the list of potential Russian interference in British politics can now be added US interference – and you’d be struggling to determine which is the more sinister.

President Vladimir Putin hasn’t, to anyone’s knowledge, expressed an interest in annexing the NHS for Russian speculators, but I suppose it’s early days. There could even be an auction. This isn’t an election, it’s a mafia conclave to settle all outstanding business.

The first referendum on Scottish independence gave us the option of merely staying in the UK or leaving it. The choice in the next one will be much more severe: living in a sewer or breathing clean air.