THE Sunday Herald is not in the business of telling our readers how to vote - that kind of hectoring, top-down journalism is not for us. Not only is it out-dated and patronising, it is also pointless. For a paper with one of the best educated, best informed readerships in the country, we know our readers are more than smart enough to make up their own minds, without us telling them what to think. The job of a newspaper in the 21st century is to inform readers, to hold power to account, to stand up for the weak, and to tell the truth to the best possible ability of every member of staff. A newspaper’s role is, most certainly, not to dictate.

However, we are not afraid or bashful when it comes to saying what we think - any person or organisation should be able to express an opinion without shoving it down the throat of the listener. Our readers know that we are clear about our political positions. As the only newspaper to support a Yes vote during the independence referendum we certainly have no fear of putting our beliefs front and centre. It is also clear that this paper has supported what is broadly called ‘progressive politics’ since its inception at the end of the last century.

With that said, let us turn to the General Election. This is now a two horse race both north and south of the border - and in each case it is a race between a progressive party and the Tory Party. South of the Border is it a straight fight between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. One a leader who has said nothing; a leader who called an election on Brexit but has told us nothing of her plans for Brexit; a leader too disdainful or fearful to appear before the people and fight her corner in a televised debate; a leader defined by u-turns and rhetoric so empty it’s almost a black hole. The other, a leader who has taken the momentum - forgive the pun - and shown that when he is seen by the electorate, unfiltered by a foaming right-wing London media, that his policies of a fairer world resonate strongly with voters. Yes, he has been shambolic in the past, but May is shambolic right now.

However, the electoral reality in Scotland - in part because so many in the Scottish Labour Party have disowned Corbyn - is that the progressive vote here still lies with the SNP. So, just as the race south of the border is a straight fight between Labour and the Tories, so the fight in Scotland has just two opponents: the Tories and the SNP. Both here in Scotland and in England voting for any other party than the two main contenders is a waste of paper, unless in the few narrow marginals where a tactical vote would be smart - a close run English constituency, say, where Labour has no chance but the LibDems could oust the Tories if Labour voters switched.

In Scotland, there is a similar feel to the changing fortunes of the Tory party as there is in England. Ruth Davidson, who presented herself with a smile to the world for so long, feels more than a little toxic now, tainted as she is with the rape clause and the whiff of queasy British nationalism and zealous, flag-waving patriotism. The blue surge beats without lustre on the shoreline now. The more the electorate has seen of Ruth Davidson, unfiltered by her cheerleaders in the right-wing press, the less they have come to like her. Nicola Sturgeon still has a healthy balance in the charisma-bank - playing it almost faultlessly on the doorsteps - though many of her Westminster cadre have little of her appeal, and so some SNP MPs will lose their seats, for sure - evidence less of a Tory surge, than simply the mathematical impossibility for a party to out-landslide its last landslide.

There may well also be some progressive voters disappointed with the SNP’s addiction to the status quo when it comes to many policy areas. This paper has often said that while it applauds the SNP for talking the progressive talk, it is disappointed by the party failing to walk the progressive walk. But with that all said, in a straight-fight between two opponents, one has to pick a side. As a progressive paper, the choice is, to coin a cliche, a no-brainer. A progressive vote for one of the main progressive contenders on either side of the border is the only sensible course of action. Anything else isn’t just a waste, but a risk.

What could happen - if the stars align - is the possibility of a progressive alliance in Westminster. Such a development would be cheered by this paper. It would be a game-changing event. It would show that petty party politics, and even division on issues as huge as the constitution, could be put aside by progressive parties in the interest of all the people in each of the four great nations on these islands. It would indeed be a moment of hope, in a political landscape that has been scarred by fear, and it would inevitably usher in a series of constitutional changes - from the voting system we use, to the relationship between Scotland and the UK - which would transform the nations of Britain for the better and forever.