Prior to those heady, blue remembered days of the 2014 referendum campaign I’d always voted Labour. Even after it became clear that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had squandered Labour’s first-ever three-term majority on cosy centrism rather than reversing two decades of Thatcherism I stuck with them. By then though, it was only a muscle memory activated by my family’s multi-generational loyalty to the party that compelled me still to look for their candidate on the ballot paper.

This party – more than any other - had lifted my people out of poverty and helped us face down the discrimination we had encountered when fleeing Ireland’s An Gorta Mor. They included us; supported us and then, in creating the NHS, comprehensive secondary education and free entry into Britain’s best universities, gave us opportunities. Until 2014, Labour still had a lot more credits than debits.

I’d resisted the SNP for several reasons: in Scotland’s Irish Catholic community they were still viewed with a measure of suspicion owing to the absurd interventions in the 1970s and early 1980s of its former National Convenor, Billy Wolfe.

Tony Blair led a very different Labour partyTony Blair led a very different Labour party (Image: free)

There was also something of a good ol’ boy, six-fingered banjo player attaching to them, caused perhaps by images of rustic itinerants emerging from the heather clutching out-sized saltires and channelling their inner Mel Gibsons. The SNP seemed to attract a disproportionate number of swivel-eyed weapons and rockets.

‘Nationalism’ as a term didn’t sit pretty with me either because, well … you know why. It conveyed exceptionalism and the sense that flags and ancient battles were more important than the international class struggle to give working people and their communities a more equal share of the riches their labours had wrought.

The Alex Salmond-led Yes campaign in 2013/14 began to erode some of my old certainties. Under him, the SNP began to look like a proper, grown-up party; its scarecrow division of pitchfork-wielding battle re-enactors chivvied into fringe events in pub basements. He had created a space within the SNP where Scottish Catholics of Irish descent didn’t have to apologise for our faith.

Meanwhile, under David Cameron and Boris Johnson, the Tories had bowed down to the hard right in their party. This was manifest in a suite of inhumane austerity measures such as the two-child benefit cap, the bedroom tax, the rape clause and the cruel and unusual vindictiveness of the DWP. It seemed to reach its apotheosis with the malevolent narrative it embraced during Brexit in which the ‘wrong kind’ of migrants and asylum-seekers – those with the wrong skin colour or suspect cultural lineage – were deemed to be sub-human.

The accompanying campaign to demonise authentic Socialists within Labour, culminating in the orchestrated defamation of Jeremy Corbyn, indicated that Britain, in the foreseeable future, was lost and had finally capitulated to the forces of Thatcherite corporatism.

Scottish independence – even with some uncertainties, risks and magical economics – had to be better than this. And so, for the first time since our lot first stepped off the boat from Monaghan and Donegal, every one of our sprawling family – all three current generations of them – began to vote for the SNP.

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Rather too quickly though, it became clear that under Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP was becoming cosy with the constitutional status quo. Following the referendum, I’d been assured by two senior party advisers that significant time and expertise over the next few years would be devoted to tightening up the economics of independence and seeking ways to wrong-foot the UK Government into at least granting a second referendum.

Yet, when people like Angus Brendan MacNeil and Chris McEleny proposed various Plan Bs the party leadership set their lapdogs on them: those shiny-suited imps who were granted the first two rows at party conferences to jeer those who veered from the Sturgeon dogma.

At the same time, a sewer running beneath the SNP had become visible. It first became evident in the misogynistic bullying of Joanna Cherry orchestrated by the leadership.

It also became clear that Nicola Sturgeon had assembled a star chamber of hand-picked glove-puppets, all of whom were using independence to maintain salary packages well beyond what real life would have awarded their mediocre talents.

Independence was thus downgraded and replaced by a fanatical zeal for imposing gender self-ID on an unsuspecting populace. This relied on keeping the voters largely ignorant about its consequences: violating women’s private and safe spaces; using lavishly-funded agencies to promote gender ideology to schoolchildren and removing gender-critical feminists and lesbians from senior posts across civic Scotland.

At the 2021 Scottish election I’d managed to find a pro-independence Socialist party in my constituency to save me from having to vote SNP. I wanted to vote Labour, but felt I couldn’t while they maintained their opposition to a second referendum on independence.

This time though, it doesn’t matter. Why should any of us continue to take independence seriously when it’s become clear that the frauds operating at the top of the SNP have been conning Yes supporters about independence for most of the last decade? They have filled the most important cabinet positions with such an assortment of mediocre knaves that no matter how much they might spend on the NHS, education and housing their efforts would be bound to fail. I’m being told to apologise for my faith once more.

I should be voting Labour on Thursday, I really should, but they too have been hollowed out by misogyny and downright sexism. Neither Anas Sarwar, nor Sir Keir Starmer have yet shown the moral courage required to speak the truth about this: that men can't become women and that, as such, they can never be permitted to insinuate themselves into women’s spaces.

Labour opposes independenceLabour opposes independence (Image: free)

Instead, Labour have constructed a mealy-mouthed compromise. They’ll “recognise and protect single-sex spaces based on biological sex”. This though, is rendered meaningless by their desire to make it easier for men to become women.

The cowards who wish this would all just go away claim that it’s a minor concern compared with housing, health and education. It impacts on all of these, though because it’s a class issue. When you allow fraudulent males to distort sex-based data then you downgrade the lifeline, sex-specific services that women need.

As ever, vulnerable women from working-class neighbourhoods are most adversely affected by this along with those who are survivors of sexual trauma at the hands of males. Labour’s cowardice in failing fully to defend them means that, for the first time in my life, I’m looking for a home to take my vote.