Neil KinnockI keep telling people I’m a non-nationalist for independence, but they don’t believe me. It’s true, though. I never grew up dreaming of independence, nor was it something that I particularly thought about when I first started getting into politics.

My political obsessions were much as they are now: social and economic justice, civil liberties, decarbonising our economy and protecting biodiversity, plus radical political reform.

Over the period I’ve been politically aware, I’ve lived under two eye-wateringly hard-right Tory administrations, one with Lib Dem help, separated by a period of centre-right New Labour rule (your definition of left and right may vary from mine, of course). Each of these governments was unpleasant at its core, although each one achieved at least one good thing. No, really.

Thatcher set up Channel Four: I do think that’s it for her merit column. Tony Blair brought in devolution, a limited minimum wage, and Freedom of Information. Cameron abolished Labour’s plans for ID cards and for a third runway at Heathrow. Major and Blair should share credit for moves to peace in Northern Ireland. Beyond that I’m drawing a blank. You can add you “what have the Romans ever done for us?” comments below.

Anyway, before 1994 my party politics were pretty simple, if naive. You could choose Labour or the Tories, so I thought, and that was an easy choice. Years of Tory rule would come to an end one day, and then it’d all be okay. My Labour vote in 1992 was therefore uncritical and optimistic, and I even remember exactly how depressed Basildon made me. Then the election of Tony Blair as Labour leader in 1994 radicalised me, electorally. It was obvious from the leadership campaign that he was not going to lead a Labour Party of the sort I’d waited for. I also remember being baffled by those who got disappointed after 1997: he did what he said he would do, broadly, and it bore little relation to the Labour values I remembered. I got my disappointment in early.

So over my political life I’ve seen the three largest parties at Westminster all have a go at power. They’ve left us with hereditary peers still in place, and hardly a whisper of opposition to the idea of a hereditary head of state. Fair voting is further off than ever, largely thanks to the Lib Dems’ unforgivable decision to push for a referendum on a non-proportional voting system. The economy is still built on exploitation and increasing inequality, and it’s still reliant on gas and coal and nukes. Endless road-building and airport expansion are supported by all three parties too (with the Tories desperately looking for a way to do a u-turn on Heathrow). Tuition fees get raised, asylum seekers get demonised, nuclear weapons get retained, and stuff gets privatised: these things are true whichever one of the three wins. All three parties claim the mantle of civil liberties in opposition, and all three have assaulted civil liberties in office like a pack of thugs in a back street. About the only place where Westminster has led at all, relative to Holyrood, is on LGBT rights.

They’ve all three failed, and there’s no-one left to wait for. No knight on a white charger, no principled and admirable opposition. Not even Neil Kinnock. Miliband and Balls are signed up to the “there are problems with immigration” agenda, to austerity, and to the current electoral pseudo-democracy. The left in most parts of the UK is stuck with Labour as merely the lesser evil, playing their part in a depressing politics-as-showbiz charade, where the voters who get pandered to by all three are the editors of the middle-market papers and those in swing seats who read them and fear foreigners: hence Ministers sending vans emblazoned with the old NF slogan “Go Home” to drive around ethnic minority areas. It’s fusty, archaic, unreformable, corrupt, racist, nepotistic, and cynical.

This experience gradually ground down my faith that Westminster could be somewhere things changed. Sure, the Greens got Caroline Lucas elected, which is a massive breakthrough, but I’m too impatient to wait a generation for change.

And that’s when I realised I wanted shot of it all. I knew that there wasn’t a single decision on any issue I cared about that I trusted that hulking façade of democracy to make. And I became absolutely certain that independence was necessary. It was the only way to get Westminster out of my life forever. Not for some great love of the SNP (they share some of the policies objected to above) or because independence will be perfect – although Holyrood’s procedures and elections are centuries ahead of Westminster practice.

If nothing else, because it’ll be a shakeup, a chance to bring power closer to the people and a chance to break the corrupt links between the UK parties and big business. And because there’s no alternative waiting in the wings, no real Labour government of the sort I dreamt about in the early 1990s. If Neil Kinnock had won, I might never have even considered wanting Scottish independence.