With just days to go before an election which was called entirely for cynical party political advantage, and not in the national interest, the wheels have come off the Tory bandwagon.
It may still trundle over the finishing line, but it will be a hollow victory for Theresa May if she is returned with a majority any less than, or barely bigger than, the one she could muster at the start of the campaign.
Gone are the arrogant Tory predictions of a mountainous landslide, with the accompanying talk of crushing the “saboteurs” who have the temerity to challenge the reckless and potentially ruinous extreme Brexit plans being hatched in Downing Street.
In its place is strident bluster and a shrill whiff of panic. For make no mistake – while Theresa May is still likely to win this election – this campaign has destroyed forever the claim that the Prime Minister provides strong and stable leadership.
Weak and wobbly are the new watchwords. And if proof were needed of how far the PM’s stock has fallen, it was provided by a poll in recent days showing that when voters UK-wide were asked who they thought would be the “most capable” Premier, there was just a two-point gap between Mrs May and Jeremy Corbyn, someone whose credentials as an alternative PM have never been strong.
But the effects of a lame Tory win would be far more profound and far-reaching than just the personal status of the PM.
It would, for a start, be a humiliating rejection of her call to “strengthen her hand” for the crucial Brexit talks to come. And it would signal that voters across the UK remain extremely wary of the Tories’ plans to take Britain out of the single market – and potentially to walk away from Europe with no deal at all, which would be potentially catastrophic for trade, jobs and investment.
It would also suggest that voters are deeply unimpressed by the arguments from both the Conservatives and Labour.
The SNP offer a centre-left alternative, and our manifesto this week laid out our plans to stand against austerity, to invest properly in public services and to restore fairness to our social security system, including our guarantee for the Triple Lock on the state pension.
That is a direct counter to the Tories’ plans to dismantle the post-War welfare state. And only the SNP can beat the Tories in Scotland – after all, we came first or second in every constituency in Scotland at the last election. Voting Labour, or for any other party, here simply risks splitting the anti Tory vote and letting a Tory MP in by the backdoor.
Indeed, some polls now indicate Scotland could be pivotal in deciding this election, with the issue of how big a Tory majority is – or whether they have one at all – decided here.
A vote for the SNP on Thursday will help keep the Tories firmly in check – but a vote for Labour anywhere in Scotland just risks letting Tory MPs in the backdoor.
Our manifesto also makes clear that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands, and that an SNP victory in this election in Scotland will underline the existing mandate to give Scotland a choice on its future – not now, but when the terms of Brexit are clear.
The Tories’ efforts to thwart that mandate, and to stand in the way of democracy, are truly jaw-dropping in their arrogance.
Voting SNP on Thursday will ensure that Scotland’s future is in Scotland’s hands – but more immediately, it will ensure that our voice is heard in these vital Brexit talks.
This article originally appeared in the Sunday Mail.