THIS election is like no other in modern times.
It has seen the power of the Westminster establishment challenged as never before.
That means the strength of the establishment parties is ebbing away – and that is a very healthy thing for democracy.
In Scotland it means there is a fantastic opportunity to make our nation more powerful at Westminster than we have ever been before.
Electing a strong group of SNP MPs to Westminster this Thursday will give Scotland potentially unprecedented power and influence at Westminster.
And if Scotland – including those who have still to decide how they are voting – can unite around that vision, it will mean the voices of families, individuals and communities right across the country will not just be heard, but be listened to properly.
The message that so many of those communities want to see taken forward and acted on is the end to austerity and the counterproductive agenda of cuts piled upon cuts which the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems are all signed up to.
Sending a powerful bloc of SNP MPs to Westminster will give us the chance to stop austerity in its tracks, and instead invest in vital public services like the NHS while also bringing down the deficit in a sensible, controlled way.
That will be good for Scotland – but also for people across the rest of the UK who are equally turned off by the identikit policy agendas of the establishment parties.
The SNP will always put Scotland’s interests first, but we also offer a genuine hand of friendship to people across the UK who can also benefit from the kind of progressive policy alliance we are poised to forge if we get a strong mandate from the people of Scotland.
I have lost count of the number of messages of support and encouragement myself and the SNP have received from people in England, many of whom have indicated they would also like to have the chance to vote for us at this election.
And that gives the lie to the notion put about by both the Tories and UKIP – who have been trying to outdo each other in their increasingly hysterical attacks on the SNP – that people in England are, as one, opposed to the kind of progressive change we can bring.
Unfortunately for Labour, Ed Miliband has been so spooked by that anti-SNP rhetoric that he has allowed himself to be bullied by the Tories – hence his disastrous pronouncement on Question Time that he would rather let them back in than work with us to keep them locked out of Downing Street.
It was a move which was as extraordinary as it was cack-handed, because in Scotland all it will achieve is to galvanise even more support for the SNP – and there is already polling evidence suggesting that is the case.
Labour long ago surrendered the right to automatically assume the right to govern across the swathes of Scotland it once thought of as its own – that has been proved time and again in recent years at local council and Holyrood elections. And already, more than half a million people who voted Labour at the last UK election are journeying to voting SNP on Thursday.
But Ed Miliband’s suggestion that he would rather let David Cameron walk back through the door of Number 10 than work with the SNP is utterly disastrous for Labour in Scotland.
People across Scotland would never, ever forgive the Labour Party if that is the path they chose.
Of course, Miliband’s tactics can be read another way – they suggest perhaps that he and Labour’s high command in London have simply given up on Scotland entirely, as they know that many ordinary voters here have just stopped listening to them.
But his extraordinary remarks make it even more important that Scotland unites to elect a large group of SNP MPs to give Scotland a pivotal role at Westminster, and help lock the Tories out of office.
As I have already made very clear, this election is not about independence or another referendum, no matter how many SNP MPs may be elected next week.
It is about giving Scotland a strong voice – and to do so we need as much of the country as possible to unite around that message.
By uniting as a country – Highland, Lowland, urban, rural, those who voted Yes and those who voted No, those who have voted SNP before and those who never have, including traditional Labour voters – we can elect a strong group of SNP MPs, and give Scotland real power at Westminster. That will ensure our interests are listened to and are not ignored in the way they too often have been in the past.
The opinion polls guarantee nothing, and we will work tirelessly between now and Thursday to win the trust of people all across Scotland.
If we do, Scotland’s voice will be heard more loudly and clearly at Westminster than ever before.