Never has the non-PC jibe “the lunatics have taken over the asylum” seemed more apposite than now.On your right a Tory leader of whom one of the papers urging you to give him your support yesterday said he had “an in and out relationship with the truth”. That’s posh broadsheet speak for telling porkies. A Tory leader laughably continuing to self describe as a One Nation Conservative just weeks after he slung the remaining, shrunken, one nation bloc out of his party. So one nation is Boris that John Major, a former Tory PM, has taken to the airwaves telling the electorate to vote for the escapees rather than anyone with a Johnsonian rosette.

 So beloved of actual one nation Conservatives that a former Tory chairman, Chris Patten, assured Radio 4’s PM programme last week that if the current PM ever spoke the truth it was “by accident.” Meanwhile, strutting their swivel eyed stuff are a raft of men (plus Pritti) who would, in more normal times, been lucky to get a gig flogging flying pigs at the Christmas jumble. If tomorrow belongs to the likes of Duncan Smith and Rees Mogg then the solid matter has not so much hit the fan as refurbished the living room. On your left, a Labour leader who has proved as much of an asset on the average doorstep as a brace of Jehovah’s Witnesses anxious to save your soul in the middle of Strictly. His party has seen more of a reverse takeover where the ideologically pure have contrived to wrest control from mainstream MP’s.

Pulling the strings in the leader’s office are folks who think that diverging from the one true path of socialism is a much greater crime than merely losing an election. And power You may think it’s Johnson v Corbyn. It’s just as much Seamus Milne v Dom Cummings; two men with an inflated self belief in their sacred mission to save the world from the other lot.

And now, in a misplaced bout of aggro envy, there are elements within the Scottish National Party and the wider Yes movement who have also taken up the cudgels on behalf of a cause to which they have, rather suddenly it seems to me, become very publicly attached. Thus far I have hesitated to dip a toe into gender wars since there seemed no good reason to paint a target on my back and invite the more rabid end of the market to take aim. But when an issue starts shouting immoderately all over social media weeks and now days before an election it is time to try and regain a foothold on reality. And especially proportionality.

Those who favour people being able to self identify their gender regardless of their sex at birth, and without having to give evidence of gender re-assignment treatment or surgery, argue that this does no more than give essential human rights to the trans community or people who are non binary or intersex. Those who oppose this simpler route to obtaining a gender recognition certificate say it threatens the security of women only spaces and impinges on the essential human rights of non trans (cis) women. Cue the internet equivalent of a stairheid rammy and an outbreak of general hysteria. Which might be a good moment to reflect that Ireland (in common with many countries) brought in a simplified application form in 2015. In the four years since, a whole 276 people have applied to change their gender on a new birth certificate.

In other words – regardless of your stance on this, it is not something which should reasonably dwarf or skew your position on say, to take another issue absolutely at random, independence and the future of the entire Scottish nation. It is said of the Scots that if they have one superior ability to most other races it is their ability to start a fight in an empty room. Allied to the Olympian ease with which they are wont to snatch avoidable defeat from the jaws of apparent victory.

This Thursday is not about ensuring a victorious path to independence. A Westminster election can’t do that. But it is about giving Scotland the best possible springboard for the challenges which will face us come Friday morning. If anyone thinks it’s OK staying at home in a self righteous huff over a single issue rather than helping to remove MP’s who are implacably opposed to self determination then I suggest they do need a medical certificate to prove their head doesn’t button up the back.

There are those who believe that this current stushie has been manufactured by external troublemakers. Folks with a vested interest in sewing dissent and discombobulation throughout the land in the hope that enough people will be put off exercising their franchise to have a very real impact, not least in our many marginal constituencies. I’m not much of a one for conspiracy theories. Too often we’ve not needed anything in the way of outside assistance to score an own goal. But when a guru such as Sir John Curtice intones that there are many areas where a very small number of votes can make a very large difference then this is not a moment for Yes voters to hide under the duvet nursing some wrath or other to keep it warm. So if you’re male, female, non binary, trans, intersex and also of a Yes persuasion then get your ass down the polling station.

Voting for pro independence candidates this Thursday is the duty of everyone who believes in Scotland being in charge of her own destiny. There will be more than enough time thereafter to indulge in our other national sport of punching ourselves in the face.


First published in the National on 9.12.19