This week’s parliamentary election is a crucial, unique existential moment in our country's future - Helen Martin

Just three sleep nights before those of us who haven’t logged their postal votes will be queuing at local ballot venues to choose constituency MSPs and list options.

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 7:00 am
Tens of thousands of Scottish independence supporters march under the All Under One Banner movement

But it is not an ordinary Scottish election. Votes are not simply concentrated on trying to elect one political party to achieve a majority. It’s so much more complicated.

There are three parties who are fighting to keep us in the UK. They (Conservatives Labour and Lib Dems) all believe in Unionism, the international identity, and even the austerity we have if we are under Westminster’s control. Regardless of how any of them felt in 2016, they now accept Brexit. Normally they oppose each other with conflicting policies, but their main goal on Wednesday is to rule out independence.

There are three parties who are fighting for independence and re- joining the EU. SNP is most likely for constituency seats but Greens are signed up with them. And there’s now Alba who some Saltire loyalists support and some don’t. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon aren’t close buddies any more and the independence public are divided over whether Alba will add independent list seats, just reduce the SNP, or even help Tories win more. So, that’s the main parties.

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But the population is split about 50:50 or 60:40. If the SNP does win a clear majority and is en route for another independence referendum, half of us will be celebrating, happy, and the country may well be covered with Saltire waving, socially distanced, victors.

Unionists may also be marching, raging and following Boris Johnson to ignore the SNP and backing him to block the referendum and dissolve Scottish devolution.

If the SNP doesn’t win a clear majority, the Unionists will be waving Union Jacks, celebrating their triumph and confident that banning the referendum and turning the Scottish government into a regional “council” is their victory.

I honestly can’t imagine our split population will accept whatever happens, as we always did with previous elections, even when a party we didn’t respect won the majority, whether that was in the UK or Scotland. There was always a chance for our chosen party to gain support and win in the next election. But this one leads to rapidly installed permanent, national changes.

In the past, people kept their political votes private, specifically so they didn’t fall out with neighbours and mates. Nowadays we’re all clear about who we vote for, certainly on social media.

Since 2016 when the UK majority voted for Brexit but Scotland voted against it at 62 per cent, most Scots blamed ignorant positive voters who foolishly believed it would create a successful future rather than disaster for the economy, education and free movement.

And this election has the same problem for the population. It’s not about simply electing MSPs to run the government. It’s voting to change our world, one way or the other.

So, this election is not just about supporting a favourite party, or voting for an MSP who works well for the constituency. It’s about urgently deciding whether to improve our country, make the rich pay full taxes etc, ban austerity and create a better national and

international future – or remain as a “secondary region”.