GOING ON A VOTING JOURNEY

I had supper with a friend last night who was still unsure how she would vote today. Genuinely conflicted as an erstwhile No voter with strong pro European instincts and a contempt, widely shared in Scotland, for Boris Johnson and all his  works.  She's about to become a first time grandmother and  was also pre-occupied with what destiny awaited the baby and, indeed, his parents.  I've no idea for whom she will place her cross this morning which is, in any event, entirely her own business.

But it got me thinking how many Scots have made, and continue to make a journey in terms of their own political convictions.  There are people who will always vote for a certain party no matter what. There are those who will vote as their mothers and father did, no matter what.  Yet you sense they are increasingly in the minority.  Because both circumstances and the political cast list have undergone such profound upheavals in the 20 years since Holyrood was set up,  the loyalties of many voters have proved equally fluid.

My own troth is now plighted not to an individual but to an ideal; a vision of the kind of Scotland in which I want to live and the kind of Scotland I want to see created.  Every time I hear Boris Johnson, as he did last week, complain that migrants were treating Britain "as if it were their home", I want to scream BECAUSE IT IS. And I am grateful to live in a nation whose government has openly welcomed new Scots and tried to give them whatever limited assurances are in its power to protect their human rights, and those of any other Scottish citizen regardless of their place of birth.

In truth it is the increasing dominance of this racist, Little Englander mentality within the Conservative Party which has hardened my support for Independence in recent years. I was always fiercely Scottish, but for many years in my adult life I bought into the conviction that voting Labour was an acknowledgement that we must tackle poverty and injustice together wherever it occurred in these isles.   But then the Labour Party too became imprisoned by a small ideologically driven section of its party. One intolerant of anyone who didn't buy into the one true path to pure socalism. It managed to botch both Brexit and Independence issues failing to take a coherent position on either.

At the same time, in Scotland, the party of Smith, Dewar and Cook - not men without flaws, but politicians of real stature - were latterly replaced by people like Murphy and Leonard,  to whose standard it would be difficult to rally whatever your political history.   People manifestly less astute than more immediate predecessors like Jack McConnell.  People who slowly but surely dismantled what once seemed like the divine right of Scottish Labour to hold electoral sway.

Simultaneously the Scottish National Party came in from the fringes of Scottish life to become a political force capable of running a government. A party, again not without flaws, which nevertheless contained men and women of political talent but, more importantly in my book, some  intelligent, compassionate, left leaning people who  represented the values to which many former Labour voters like me could relate.  

However, over-riding all this for me, is the thought that an independent Scotland can take its place in the family of European nations, many of whom are significanly smaller than we are.  Moreover can do so with a commitment to free movement, to human rights, to its new citizenry, and to a world which no longer harbours weapons of mass destruction, which are, incidentally, housed on my doorstep.  (It's difficult to describe the burning resentment I harbour about that.) And with a government which will not succumb to doing deals with the ineffable current holder of the US presidency.

For all those reasons I will vote SNP today, as I have now done for several elections. And, although this is a Westminster poll, I also happen to believe that there is not, at the moment, another party in Scotland capable of forming a credible administration at Holyrood.   In the future, in an Indpendent Scotland, all manner of other political permutations may come to pass.  That's fine. That's democracy. But now it's time to vote for whomsover can rid the UK of the most shabby, ill equipped, mendacious crew, I have ever witnessed in office in my quite long lifetime. 

Johnson. Rees Mogg. Raab. Patel. Gove.  That was who was left when the men and women who could lay any claim to being One Nation Conservatives  all voted with their feet and left the cabinet.  The former Tory leaders who could call themselves compassionate Conservatives without perjuring their soul have said with one voice that the current Prime Minister is a shameless charlatan.  And to call  those now holding the once great offices of state second raters would be to flatter their minimal talents. 

I loathe the fact that Johnson has manoevred his way to the top of the greasy pole on the back of a tiny Tory leadership electorate. I loathe his being Prime Minister.  If you share that distaste, you too will vote to free Scotland from the UK's shame.