Alison Rowat

MASTERMIND, the World Snooker Championship, Line of Duty: tis the season for grand finales. All good things must come to an end. And then there are the televised leaders’ debates. They have to finish because the election is nigh and, quite frankly, we’ve suffered enough.

The day had begun with the Alba Party projecting their name on the side of BBC Scotland’s HQ in Glasgow in protest at being excluded from the debates. Would a crack team turn up at the Corn Exchange and invade the set?

It was not necessary. Instead, the leaders of the other parties were interviewed before the debate by Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler from The Nine. Now this was entertaining stuff, like Britain’s Got Talent featuring the most eccentric acts imaginable. All for Unity, the Scottish Family Party, UKIP Scotland, Freedom Alliance, Reform UK Scotland: well done to Curran and Geissler for (mostly) keeping their faces straight.

The last act, sorry, leader was Alex Salmond, representing the Alba Party. It was like late period Elvis suddenly turning up in the Pavilion panto.

One episode of EastEnders later (Linda’s pregnant; it’s not Mick’s) it was time for the debate proper. The set had been cheered up with strips of lights behind the leaders in their party colours. Patrick Harvie of the Greens came off worst. Nicola Sturgeon had a slight cough; either that or she was sending signals to the Scottish Greens leader, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-style.

Watching the SNP leader take command I was reminded of a recent newsletter from Lord Ashcroft in which he said one of “ever-revealing” questions his pollsters ask punters is: if politician X was an animal, which one would they be?

“The canny Sturgeon emerges as a fox, panther or lion,” wrote Lord A. “Alex Salmond, her supposed nemesis, is a warthog, toad, snake or wild boar; Johnson is a panda, sloth, orangutan or pigeon."

By that reckoning Douglas Ross would be a wasp, so angry does the Scottish Conservatives leader usually seem in these encounters. He was much calmer this time, a regular Mr Congeniality at certain points.

Anas Sarwar (racehorse) trotted straight down the middle in every answer. Ditto Willie Rennie (Labrador), while Patrick Harvie (turtle) could not quite work up his usual head of steam.

The evening ended on a rather sweet note with Campbell asking what each leader was most looking forward to. Hugging loved ones was a popular answer. Peace and goodwill at last. Time to go.