IT’S so ironic that he first-past-the-post system beloved by Westminster, self-proclaiming as the Mother of all Parliaments, is so anti-democratic. Ask Scotland, we know. Election after election, we don’t get the government we vote for. So why will I bother?

Well, women died so I can vote. Many still are dying in so-called democratic societies where regimes thrive with little or no regard for “democracy” but govern with a clear misogynistic bias. So yes, I will vote.

If nothing else, a strong SNP would visibly debunk the idea that independence is off the agenda. But other than that, what difference will it tangibly make to the cause of independence whether we are second or third to the main opposition? In truth, it’s the rise of the far right through democratic processes that frightens me into activism.

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Starmer is still smarting from failing to oust Diane Abbott and has little hopes of doing the same at the ballot box to Corbyn.

The consequences of Farage and Reform can’t be ignored, as their momentum builds here and as the EU completes its elections.

It’s no surprise that across the EU, campaigning tended to focus on issues relevant to the individual countries rather than on wider European/world issues. Voters frequently use their votes to protest against the policies/practices of their national governments. And no surprise, immigration is the hot topic at the moment. There is a new Migration Pact waiting final formal endorsement by both the EU Parliament and the European Council. But you have the likes of Amnesty International noting it will result in “a surge in suffering on every step of a person’s journey to seek asylum” in Europe.

It is expected that the far right will make gains in the weekend elections across the EU.

Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first female prime minister, with her block of seats, is expected to be pivotal in formulating new directions and new policies after the EU elections. The choice for her and her party, Brothers of Italy, complete with its neo-fascist roots, could be deciding between staying with the existing hardline European Conservatives or becoming part of a new hard (and further) right grouping! Such a choice! So the right is on the march again across Europe.

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But if the recent polls are right in the UK, the Tory party could be reduced to anything between 71 and 180 seats, fewer than half the number (365) won by Boris Johnson in 2019. Let’s not be fooled. That won’t signal the demise of the right here, not with Farage waiting in the wings. With or without a seat, he will beat the drum of anti-immigration, attempting to align a failure of successive governments to provide adequate housing, education and health services to the failure to control borders, immigrants, dependents, refugees, asylum seekers. Just don’t mention Brexit. That was the will of the people.

There will be a drift to Reform. It’s virtually inevitable. With Tories out of government, where will the far right and extremists go? It took the Tory party three defeats, three electoral cycles and three changes of leader before they returned to power after being kicked out in 1997. Why would their followers wait for a resurgent Tory party with Farage ready to step in?

And Labour? How long have they waited since being kicked out of office? How many leaders, but worse, how far to the right have they moved so as to be voted into power? Who, what’s left to purge? How further right will they go to retain power with a second term?

There have to be lessons there for Scotland, and for the independence movement, political and grassroots. So let’s all go vote: let’s make sure independence is very much still on the agenda, and be prepared for a long slog, at least until 2026, deep breath, and then beyond.

Selma Rahman