If the sign of a brilliant intelligence is the ability to hold two conflicting ideas in your mind at the same time and still get on with your life then I am bloody brilliant I must say. I want to see an end to this Tory government but I will also probably vote Tory at the next election. As I say: brilliant.

The realisation that this is what’s happening to me, and lots of other Scots as well, started to really crystallise the other day when I got a leaflet through the door from Mr Martin Dowey. Mr Dowey is the Conservative candidate in the constituency where I vote and he said in his leaflet that he would be standing up for us all on the “issues that are most important to our community”. Strangely, he didn’t say what those issues might be.

He didn’t need to as it happens, because Mr Dowey’s entire theory on becoming an MP appears to be based on something else. Look at the facts, he said. In Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock at the last election, the SNP won with 20,272 votes. Labour had 6,219, the Lib-Dems 2,158 and the Tories 17,943. This means, says Mr Dowey, that only the Conservatives can beat the SNP in my constituency.

I’m familiar with the logic of this argument of course because it’s been used by the Scottish Conservatives (pretty effectively at times) for quite a while now. They know a lot of people would like to see the SNP out and they know that, because of first-past-the-post, voting Labour or Lib-Dem is not the way to do it in quite a few seats. It’s one of the remarkable aspects of our recent identity and constitutionally-obsessed times that many Scots have concluded that the only thing worse than voting Tory is the SNP winning.

Mr Dowey does acknowledge in his leaflet how this leaves many Scots feeling. “I know many people who have voted Conservative in this constituency,” he says, “have done so simply because they know it’s the only way to beat the SNP here. To them, I want to say thank you.” Which makes me think the only thing worse than being kissed by a Tory is being thanked by one for helping them out.

For me personally, this is all quite hard to deal with. I like to think of myself as centrist or right-leaning centrist, although a friend of mine said to me the other day that “you’re much more right-wing than you think you are” (rude). I would also like to be part of what I hope is going to be a big win for Keir Starmer and Labour at the next election. I would like to say, when it happens, that I was one of the people who voted for it and therefore, in a tiny way, helped bring it about.

But can I actually do that, realistically? I could vote Labour in Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock but it would require a swing of some 20% for Labour to win here which means, let’s face it, it isn’t going to happen (voting for the Lib-Dems, would be an even bigger waste of time – they lost their deposit last time). And so it means that, reluctantly, I feel like I have to agree with Mr Dowey, vote Conservative in the hope the SNP will lose the seat and rely on my fellow Scots to play their own part by voting Labour in constituencies where Labour is in second place.

The reasons for doing things this way are clear. Humza Yousaf says he will seek independence negotiations with the UK government if his party wins the most seats in Scotland at the next general election, and while we know this is posturing really (and that quite a few in his own party think it’s bonkers), it would be nice to deny him the opportunity of trying out the idea.

Most of us also know that the strategy is politically illogical in that it means the SNP could lose lots of seats and still claim they have a mandate for negotiating independence. And what’s more, Mr Yousaf may actually lose even by his own madey-uppy rules (some polls have been predicting Labour will win the most seats in Scotland).

This leaves Scots in constituencies like mine who want Labour to win with a problem: we could vote Labour and perhaps feel like we’re on the left side of history, but what if that meant that the SNP won in constituencies like Angus and Gordon and sneaked a Scottish majority of one or two seats? The UK Government wouldn’t listen to the SNP of course, and it would be a ludicrous thing to do, but one or two results like that could leave the nationalists with their alleged “most-seats” mandate.

As it happens, we’re talking about quite a lot of Scots here for whom this is a live issue. In fact, by my reckoning, there are nine constituencies where a relatively small swing to the Tories would defeat the SNP: Aberdeen South, Angus, Argyll and Bute, East Renfrewshire, Gordon, Lanark and Hamilton East, Ochil and South Perthshire, Central Ayrshire, and Carrick and Cumnock. These are seats that cover more than 400,000 voters – enough to make a big difference and only a small number of them would need to vote tactically to make a decisive difference.

One comfort for those thinking about taking the plunge is that strategically voting Conservative in Scotland will probably be a risk-free activity at the next General Election in that even if a few Scottish Tories do get in, there’s no chance of them forming another UK Government. But keeping the number of SNP seats down could help contribute to success for Labour and, hopefully and more importantly, continue to reduce the heat on the years of bubbling constitutional angst that’s been coming off the boil for quite a while now.

So will I do it? Will I vote Tory next time? I must admit it’s probably easier for me than it would be for many Scots because I’ve voted Conservative quite a few times before (both actively and strategically). I also have to operate in the system we have at the moment which has a distorting effect and can force some of us to vote in ways we’d rather not. So yes. Tory. Probably.

A much better solution – and supporters of the idea will never tire of saying it – would be to reform the antediluvian, anti-democratic first-past-the-post system and create a process in which more of us – all of us – could vote the way we want to. Done that way, it could mean everything changes. It might even mean that, one day, sometime in the future, I could actually vote Labour without the nagging fear that I’m making things worse.