WELCOME to the age of None Of The Above – a crisis of competence in the West’s political class that can’t be solved at the ballot box.

I won’t be the only person looking ahead to the General Election with a degree of disgust. For many voters, there will be little choice at the next poll on who should lead the United Kingdom; an inescapable decision between a mix of regressive fiscal policies and genocide apologism, wrapped in the red, blue and white.

And while popular wisdom would suggest the election’s outcome is all but set to be a (well deserved) near wipeout for the Conservatives across the UK, the path to electoral victory seems paved with bad intentions nonetheless.

If the past few weeks (the past few years, really) have been a marker of what is to come, I suspect we’d best be prepared for a deeply nasty election campaign – from a Tory Party falling back on the classics of conservatism with nary a positive government record to point to, and a Labour Party so terrified of upsetting imaginary red-wall voters that it is content to stamp a second pair of boot prints on to the communities already under attack from the far right.

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On two separate occasions, the Tory Party has posted and deleted pre-election propaganda that dipped so hard into authoritarian dog whistles that barking could be heard from across the Atlantic.

The first was a video on crime statistics in London that included clips of chaos in US subway stations. The second was a widely-mocked post of Rishi Sunak surrounded by war planes and royal parasites, beneath a banner that proclaimed “Britain is the second most powerful country in the world”.

Militarism, traditionalism and “tough on crime” rhetoric are all hallmarks of authoritarian propaganda, and the Conservatives’ recent fare has had more than a whiff of the same extremist rhetoric that has served Donald Trump so well in the United States: Fear. Fear. And more fear.

The in-out-in-out-shake-it-all-about approach to fascistic flirtations signals a party testing the waters for one of the nastiest electoral campaigns in living memory; and while the Conservatives remain unlikely to claw back their dwindling support ahead of the polls, the pain they seem intent on causing in the vain hope of reversing their declining support is very real.

With no public record to speak of, what else do Westminster’s right-wingers have to campaign on but culture war issues? The Conservatives’ 14-year reign has left us with a mangled economy, crumbling public services and waterways brimming with enough faecal matter to start a nationalised fertiliser plant.

The National: File photo dated 07/08/13 of The Palace of Westminster, which contains the House of Commons and the House of Lords, in central London. A Westminster committee will examine the role of the civil service in supporting both the UK and Scottish governments.

But rather than address that, Sunak and company instead seem more focused on sharing a nudge and a nod toward your immigrant and transgender neighbours. Worse still is that, in many ways, much of the British public and press are absolutely primed and ready to fall for it.

Scotland’s hate crime legislation and the manufactured furore around it, is a depressingly salient example. Here we have legislation that has been so fundamentally misrepresented that even Sunak came out to condemn it – despite England having functionally the same laws in place already.

The moral panic left one writer having to pick herself up post-tantrum after realising that nobody was coming to “arrest her”. These brash, US-inspired appeals to fear of the Other are, I suspect, only set to increase.

Sunak’s bizarre rah-rah Britannia ad, conversely to its intent, displayed the desperation of a party and political union in deep decline. And I’m not sure I want to see just how dangerous a Tory Party backed into a corner can be.

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Already there are whispers and reports on supposed fiscal traps that the Conservatives plan to set on leaving office, with the intent of doing so much damage that can be spun on to Labour’s doorstep that it will ensure a swift return to power.

Like with the lives that the Conservatives have placed a target on to deflect from their own incompetence, there seems to be total indifference to what could be considered the public good.

I dread seeing how that will play out against a backdrop of ignorance and mistrust toward minority groups that provokes such a disproportionate response as to immediately derail any conversation; one that can be quickly drawn upon should debate turn too quickly toward Liz “lettuce us have a go” Truss, or the recession.

Labour won’t oppose it. The Conservatives will capitalise on it. And everyone else will pay for it. At least in Scotland, there’s an alternative outside of the big boys of Westminster that actually has a chance of being elected under First Past The Post – but for England, the choice isn’t so clear.

There may be a dearth of vision at Holyrood, but at least our MSPs aren’t filling that hole with hatred.