Being away at university lends perspective to every trip home - the siblings are a little bit taller, the dog a bit fatter, and my bed a whole lot more comfortable. However Scotland itself does not seem to be getting better, it has not improved under an SNP government. Instead I see a Scotland more divided and with an uncertain future; a country that both relies and benefits from being part of the Union; an Edinburgh that has finally completed its overdue tram vanity project, only to find it half empty; a pro-independence government that makes no apologies for dodging serious questions such as on oil, currency and EU membership.
The SNP have given up on independence - for now - and are instead focusing on this election and squeezing Full Fiscal Autonomy (FFA) out of the next government. They seem to think that with FFA the Scottish economy will miraculously grow, and yet, if there's such great potential lying dormant in the Scottish economy, why hasn't it been realised before? All I hear is canny rhetoric. The SNP propose no real answers, instead they have created their own reality where their answer is choosing isolation. They not only want to tear us away from the sixth largest economy in the world, but a country that's as much as part of us as we are part of it.
The SNP have seemingly only just woken up to the fact we have MPs in Westminster, which we've had for hundreds of years; before, they were dismissed and denigrated by Sturgeon. They want independence by any means necessary, not letting us to decide for ourselves. They have blinded people with a combination of nationalism and idealism, where independence will solve everything.
The reality is that politics may be slightly disappointing compared to the shiny vision leaders try to sell us, but we need to consider things with clear eyes. All parties want to better our lives, the difference is how they want to get there. America has had its rough awakening in the realities of politics with Obama's administration; in the UK we had the great promise of Tony Blair and even the Liberal Democrats pre-Coalition. I fear the same thing is happening now in Scotland with Sturgeon. Being called a 'rock star politician' may be droll for a minute, but I want to see policies that are robust, that stand up to questioning. The SNP are afforded the luxury of not being fully accountable as they are backed stopped by a much larger system. Nicola Sturgeon, despite leading their campaign, isn't even standing for election.
Yes the SNP want a fairer Scotland, as do all the parties, but their method would be unthought-out madness. The best way to define one's beliefs is to test them and I could easily consider independence if its main advocates actually tried to tackle the serious doubts over their plans. Instead they have conflated nationalism with patriotism and stand on a platform of rhetoric, not policy. They label No voters un-Scottish, BBC-swallowing liars, who are slave to the Westminster establishment, what ever that is. We must think objectively and not with nationalism in our minds.
The SNP have mastered campaigning in poetry, what I fear is their prose.