WILL miss it; the ritual of going down to my village hall, popping into the box and picking up the stubby pencil on a string. However my postal vote has already winged its merry way since the most important consideration was ensuring my vote went in the mix regardless of the state of Covid play on May 6. I have no time for folk who don’t exercise their franchise, or who think there’s something noble about spoiling their paper. Just bloody vote – if you find a party with whom you are in total agreement, rely on it being a world first.

Whatever we might think of the latest ­Boris Johnson shenanigans down south, and the dispiriting news that his party is still well ahead in the UK polls despite its being led by a complete and shameless chancer, we have our own fish to fry in Scotland. And we have to judge this 2021 election not on what some perceive as a lack of drama, but on its profound meaning for Scotland’s future.

The future of all its parties too, for that matter. So the enemy at the gate is the chance of a low turnout which would give the forces of Unionist darkness ­another ­unearned opportunity to dismiss the ­result, should there be a majority in favour of ­indyref2 and independence itself. The ­campaigns have been punctuated by the leaders’ debates – there will be another one this coming week – and I’m beginning to think they only really happen because the broadcasters feel they should.

The first BBC one was ruined because of the zoom questioners, an argument in my book for the BBC to think again about the merits of sub contracting the selection process. Ditto for the wearisome Question Time and the Scottish Debate Night.

The STV one was sharper because it ­allowed the host unmediated opportunities to pin down the candidates, but the leaders have been round this course so often that most of us could now script their replies ­before the off. The Channel 4 one, despite the usually sharp Krishnan Guru-Murthy being at the helm, was allowed to become too much of a rammy. Whoever told ­Douglas Ross that the way to debate intelligently was to talk over everyone else’s answers did him no favours.

Yet let’s be frank here – the mass of the electorate would have been on another channel. The most avid viewers fall into two very predictable categories; party chiefs praying their standard bearer doesn’t suffer from foot in mouth disease, and the amalgamated union of political commentators praying that they do.

The new Alba Party, prop. A Salmond, has made much of the fact that they didn’t get an invitation to the ball. While I understand their frustration, new parties need a long lead in time to gel with the voters. Some of them never do; they rise without much trace and plummet without much regret.

Into that latter category I would file Mr G Galloway’s All4Unity, a ragtag and bobtailed platoon largely comprising the kind of folk Mr G with whom once said he wouldn’t be caught dead. In fact we were invited to bring about that very ­demise should he ever plight his troth to a Tory. Duck, George. With luck only your hat will get winged.

The other smaller parties suffered the usual squeeze. Willie Rennie tried to keep the LibDem flame alive by participating in an ever more bizarre round of photo stunts. It may be amiable, but it’s hardly serious politics. His party produced ­(another) paper on federalism, of which the wider public know not very much at all. He added to the gaiety of the ­political nation by suggesting that the best way to get Scotland back into Europe was to ­persuade Brexit Boris to change his mind. A lot of discarded ladies tried that, Willie. Best of luck.

The Greens probably did themselves no harm; co-leader Lorna Slater got to up her profile and Patrick Harvie did more than DI Steve Arnott to revive the waistcoat vote. Their staunch support of the Gender Recognition Act will win them support in trans quarters, and lose it from others for the same reason. Their biggest mistake in my view was failing to hang on to Andy Wightman. I hope he gets back to ­Holyrood on the Highland list vote. The chamber needs bonny fechters of ­independent mind.

And what of the main players? Anas Sarwar, by general consent, has had a decent campaign. He’s made more impact in a couple of months than his predecessor did in years. Yet the elephant stomping around the Scottish Labour room is their hostility to another referendum and independence, again baked into their manifesto. That hard line refusal to read the Scottish electoral room and respond to simple democratic imperatives, is unlikely to shepherd indy minded former adherents back into the fold.

Sarwar, sounds even more adamant than his London boss on the topic, since Starmer is now allowing himself a small amount of much-needed wriggle room. Meanwhile, Ian Murray, their solitary MP, is the most fervently Unionist of the bunch, as witness that unfortunate snap in a Union flag jacket. Then again if you’re relying on anti-Nat Tory voters to keep you in your Edinburgh seat, that’s ­probably understandable. Though not necessarily forgivable.

Which brings us to the man in black. Douglas Ross’s Scottish Tory party must have saved a fortune recycling all that “No to IndyRef” literature and signage. He is asking the voters to believe two impossible things before breakfast; that he can be First Minister, and that asking the electorate only for their list vote is evidence of ambition. Their campaign is the most deceitful on offer; openly asking Tory supporters to cast their vote for ­whoever can beat the indy candidate. And as for believing every Boris Johnson ­denial! Come on, Douglas, you saw his lips move, same as everyone else.

AND, finally to the First Minister, the woman with the largest target on her back. Not so very many weeks back there was the dramarama of the select committee hearings, swiftly followed by her predecessor forming his own party. Just to help her along, you understand. Yet the stark fact is that whatever mistakes and missteps she and her government have made, she retains huge personal popularity whilst Alex Salmond is apparently less well-liked than Boris in Scotland. That must be difficult to bear.

The SNP has morphed from a party with enviable discipline to a party with assorted factions and varied priorities. Which may mean that it has achieved the trajectory of any serious political party, though I doubt there’s much comfort in that thought.

Yet, beyond doubt in my book, it is the only party offering a credible pathway to independence. So you can be entirely clear-sighted about perceived failings, and equally persuaded that to support independence and not support the SNP is a psephological mug’s game.

It’s not blind support; I’m not the only Yes voter accepting of the urgent need to get the essential research and homework done, and impatient with the fact that the leadership lacks the bandwidth or ­appetite to tackle that as well as navigate the ­pandemic. Devolution within parties is essential too.

Nevertheless, we’re kidding ourselves if we think any of the other parties is in any current shape to form an administration. That is their failure as well as Scotland’s; sound government needs strong opposition.

My belief is that post independence the opposition parties will be among the first beneficiaries. When they too can call their own shots without dancing to London’s tunes. When nobody will have to look at the future through the prism of constitutional uncertainty – and instead can buckle down to help build the new Scotland.