SOME of us, who are a bit older, longer in the tooth, and wrinklier, have long experience of the Conservative party. We remember the institutionalised sectarianism of post-war Scottish Conservatism – when appeals to bigotry didn’t need to be hidden in the high pitch of a dog-whistle, but were baldly stated out loud, maintaining the so-called Union by making one part of Scotland hate the other.

We remember the horrors of the Thatcher years, that decade and a half of the death of the soul, when the worship of private greed became elevated into state policy, communities were ravaged and hope was destroyed.

During those years of fruitless protesting, of marches to nowhere, and howling rage in the endless night, many of us worked up a deep hatred of the Conservatives. We found within ourselves a loathing and contempt that burned and hurt.

Those burning embers of disgust were the only light in the darkness brought down upon working class Scotland by a Conservative party which institutionalised cruelty as a tool of government.

But all this pales in comparison to the pitch-black fog which the 21st century Conservatives have inflicted upon us. I never thought that it was possible to loathe a political party more than the loathing that so many of us felt for the Conservatives of Thatcher’s era. But Theresa May’s Government has proven me wrong. Thatcher made day into night, but at least there were still stars in the sky to navigate by. It was still possible to see a path out of the darkness. Not any more. We’re in a dark and endless night, one that threatens to last for generations and consume our children and grandchildren. Theresa May has extinguished all the stars, except one. All that is left is the shining beacon that is independence for Scotland.

Hatred is vile. It’s negative. It eats you up from inside. But hatred is all that is left when a people are neutered and made powerless and irrelevant by a government which is deaf to reason and which refuses to listen. Theresa May humiliates Scotland. She ignores Scotland’s needs. She traduces Scotland’s values. She claims to speak for us because she has silenced us and tied our hands. Hatred is what you get when you combine powerlessness with anger. That’s Theresa May’s legacy to Scotland, and it is no way to live.

But what other future can the UK offer us? Where is the hope, where is the vision, where is the dream. All that is on offer is a poisonous nostalgia for an empire that’s long gone and a Scotland that has no means to affect the course of events. We’re trapped within a Union that’s not a Union, with nothing to protect us from the toxic delusions of the worst of rampant English nationalism. If Scotland is to heal, is to develop, is to achieve its potential, something needs to change. We can’t change as long as we remain powerless and voiceless. We can’t change as long as we’re imprisoned in the toxicity of a British state that’s founded on a fetishisation of WW2.

A long time ago, the Conservatives claimed that they were different from the Labour Party because Labour was a party of ideology, whereas the Conservatives were the party of pragmatism. That’s a political landscape which has long since vanished, a landscape trodden by dinosaurs. Now Labour has no ideology and precious few principles, while the Tories are consumed by the ideology of Brexit and the false god of British exceptionalism.

Once upon a time there were intellectuals and thinkers in politics. Now we have David Davis and his boorish braggadocio, Michael Gove and his shape-shifting opportunism, and the performance-art poshness of Jacob Rees-Mogg. They preach the cold heartless populism of the right, of the hostile environment, of the punishment of those who live in poverty where compassion is a weakness and cruelty is lauded.

Everything is to be sacrificed to the god of Brexit. Our jobs, our futures, our prosperity, our security, even democracy itself. All must burn on the altar of respecting the referendum of 2016 while the Tories and their enablers rail against the Remainers, the Europeans, the Irish, the Scots, against anyone and everything which stands in the way of their wanton destruction. We are the heretics who must be silenced, the apostates who must be shunned.

All of it in pursuit of a fantasy of a global Britain which bestrides the world like a colossus, a Britain with more admirals in its navy than ships, which slavishly follows the Pentagon like a puppy follows its master.

The Conservatives are not leading us into the darkness because they want to make this country a kinder and better place. They’re not doing it because they want to strengthen employment rights and offer greater protections to the people.

They’re doing it in pursuit of their nirvana of libertarianism, in order to strip us of the rights and guarantees that come with membership of the EU. We face a future of low wages and insecure employment, of limited rights and trashed public services.

Scotland has had no say in any of this. This is not the UK that we were promised in 2014. This is not the best of both worlds that was sold to us. This is not the strengthened devolution and faster, safer, better change that we were told would be in store for us.

What we’ve been delivered is the impotent rage that leads to hatred. That’s no way to live. That’s no future for a country. The UK has been destroyed, and it’s been destroyed by those who claim to love it.

In the UK all that is left to us is the powerless silence of the unending night. There is a better way, a way that takes us away from hate and into the light. We need to focus on the one star that still shines bright in the pitch black Brexit sky, the star that leads to independence, the star that leads to the dawn.