WE’RE in the last days of this dire and depressing election campaign. I wish that I could say there was now light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s more likely to be the headlamp of the onrushing train of Conservative votes in England. That’s what it’s like to be Scotland in this supposedly United Kingdom, trapped in the dark while other people run over the top of you.

None of the parties have fought inspiring campaigns. The SNP have struggled to get their voice heard above the clamour of a UK media which is determined to ignore and marginalise them in the same way that successive British governments have marginalised Scotland. When that media does pay attention to Scotland, it distracts us with a focus on devolved issues which will not be decided in this election. It shamefully fails to hold the other parties to account for their undemocratic refusal to heed any mandate which the people of Scotland provide to a party seeking another independence referendum.

Labour’s campaign has been mired in allegations of anti-Semitism and subject to a barrage of attacks from a predominantly right-wing media. Their key policies consist of the delivery of things which we already enjoy in Scotland, thanks to an SNP-led Scottish Government. The LibDem campaign has been woeful, led by a leader whose every vowel strangling utterance only confirms her lack of authenticity.

The National: LibDem leader Jo SwinsonLibDem leader Jo Swinson

The Conservative campaign has been breathtakingly shameless in its lies, its deceit, and in its consistent avoidance of scrutiny. No wonder that people are fed up and that this election campaign has lacked any of the passion and enthusiasm which characterised the independence referendum campaign.

There are signs of hope. The polls point to an increase in support for the SNP on Thursday, the only party in this election which has both any serious chance of winning seats and which is asserting a principle which ought to be fundamental to the so-called Unionist parties.

That would be the principle that the UK is a union which is composed of different nations of equal status, that each of those nations has the absolute right to determine its own future, and that this Union only lasts as long as it has the consent of a majority in each of its component parts.

The Conservatives are asserting a quite different proposition, they insist that it doesn’t matter how Scotland votes, it doesn’t matter how many mandates this country provides to parties seeking another independence referendum, they’re not going to allow it. That’s both fundamentally anti-democratic, and destroys the traditional understanding of unionism that has always existed in Scotland. The mask has been ripped off. We now see that in the eyes of British nationalists Scotland isn’t a partner in a Union at all, but a subordinate region of a unitary British state, whose future is to be decided according to the political priorities of whoever happens to occupy Downing Street and not by the people of Scotland.

The National: 10 Downing Street

The Conservatives are also insisting that Scotland must leave the EU, and that it can have no say and no input into deciding what form that exit will take. They’re trying to soft pedal that message in Scotland, instead trying to repeat the cynical trick they played in 2017.

They promise us a low wage low tax low regulation economy which benefits the rich and large corporations while the rest of us pay the price in the form of more austerity, the trashing of our public services, more homeless people huddled in shop doorways, more foodbanks, more misery. They will take us out of the EU, hollow out the devolution settlement, and isolate us in a right-wing populist state lost in a nostalgic reverie of glories long past. You can expect more military parades, and more ex-service people begging on the streets.

Brexit will still dominate the headlines and British politics. The Tory campaign is founded on lies, get Brexit done is the biggest lie of all. Negotiating an agreement about leaving the EU was always going to be the easy part. The really difficult task of negotiating a permanent relationship between the UK and the EU lies ahead. With a Conservative majority government headed by a triumphant Boris Johnson, there will be nothing to prevent the zealots of Brextremism taking the UK out of the EU in December 2020 without any sort of deal.

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The priority on Thursday must be to ensure that this Conservative party of liars, charlatans, cynics, and opportunists is denied an absolute majority. Never has there been a clearer moral imperative in a UK General Election. Not even the former Conservative Prime Minister John Major can support the Conservatives in this election. While the media focus on antisemitism within the Labour party, the bigots, racists, and xenophobes who infest and infect the Conservatives run unchallenged. Once in power with a majority, their pestilence will characterise the British government.

What was once a party of moderate centre-right politics has mutated into a disease which threatens to destroy the body politic.

A Conservative majority government will eventually lead to the break up of the UK. It will create a groundswell of disgust and revulsion in Scotland equal to that seen in this country during the dark days of Thatcher. But it will be a painful path, a path marked by job losses, by weeping, by homes unlit and unwarmed, by bellies that rumble empty in the dark night, by hopelessness and despair. It will be a path signposted by those who drop from exhaustion, from self-medication on drugs or alcohol as their sole coping mechanism. It will be a path through the darkness. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Voting on Thursday is not merely a civic duty, it is also a moral one. Boris Johnson must be deprived of a majority. We need to lock the Tories out. That means it is vital to vote for the candidate who is best placed to unseat the Conservatives. In the vast majority of constituencies in Scotland, that means voting SNP. Scotland must vote for a party that asserts Scotland’s right to make up its own mind about the nightmare of British nationalism which the Conservatives wish to visit upon us, and to provide us with an escape.