This must have been the first Scottish election campaign in history where victory was conceded on day one and the following 42 days were about the battle over who would come second which, as the legendary sage and philosopher Bill Shankly put it, is nowhere.

The new nowhere man leading Labour – who can even recall the name of the old one? – was Anas Sarwar. Everyone agreed he had a jolly good campaign, he was a likable, refreshing and credible character – they just didn’t fancy voting for him.

Labour’s billboards about a vote for them being a vote for a strong opposition were refreshingly honest, which never goes down well in politics. Honesty is fake news. Once hegemonic in Scotland, like today’s SNP, Labour were battling the Tories to be best losers, like two slapheads scrabbling for the Regaine bottle.

Sarwar didn’t put a foot wrong, not even when he was filmed outside Livingston FC’s stadium grooving to Uptown Funk along with the Saltire Burlesque Academy.

I know Sarwar’s father, Britain’s first Muslim MP, and I can guarantee he didn’t have moves like that.

His real opponent, Douglas Ross, certainly didn’t. The clip of the Tories’ neophyte leader and part-time linesman tripping over his Adidas on the touchline at the 2018 Scottish Cup Final did the rounds once more. But Ross was just as adept at putting his foot in his mouth.

He said Boris Johnson should resign if he broke the ministerial code – bang goes the knighthood, Dougie, or Murray Ross as Bojo called him. Most of us just call him DRoss.

The hapless Ross, trying to best Sarwar, confessed to being an Atomic Kitten fan and compounded the horror by quoting lyrics from Whole Again. As the band put it, “Looking back I cannot escape and I cannot forget”. Unfortunately.

Doesn’t travel well

ROSS’S big policy pitch was to cut top-rate income tax, perhaps self-interest masquerading as principle, from the man who was vying for three wages, as MSP, MP and assistant referee. Perhaps he’ll make a donation to a travellers’ charity? But, then again, not.

The big beast popped up again, back from political hibernation, and Alex Salmond’s first casualty was what will surely make the Guinness World Records as the shortest-lived party in history.

On the morning of March 26, there was the launch of Action for Independence – in the afternoon there was action no more. The party had fallen on its sgian dubh.

Within 48 hours, the erstwhile leader of the dead party, the perjurer Tommy Sheridan, had transmogrified into a member of Salmond’s new Alba Party, although has anyone checked whether his membership card is forged?

What the Eck

ALBA’S launch was inauspicious. No, that’s too kind – it was a total bourach as they say in the Gaeltacht. Alan Partridge could have been in charge. The inspirational video broke down, as heather and misty mountains faded to black, leaving Eck staring into space with nothing to say.Then during the Q&A the Qs couldn’t be heard, only Alex’s As, although that may have been intentional.

Salmond also insisted that his party must be pronounced properly, as Al-ah-pa, as no doubt he pronounces the French capital Paree and that place where his RT cash comes from, Moskva.

Then it turned out that some members of the party couldn’t even spell its own name, with a photoshoot in front of Stirling Castle rechristening it Abla, as members with the letter cards shuffled into the wrong places. Presumably it’s pronounced Ap-ah-la.

Then there was a New Yorker interview where he chuckled and said he could have destroyed Sturgeon if he had wanted to.

He didn’t quite deny it, aware no doubt that the pesky journo had probably taped the call. So was it a guffaw or a snigger? He just claimed it had been “misreporting of misreporting” which, as Humpty Dumpty put it earlier, meant exactly what Alex wanted it to mean.

Indy’s last crusade?

NICOLA Sturgeon wasn’t beyond the the meaningless PR stunt. She was pictured pulling the teeth from an extinct beast, a stuffed T Rex, although on reflection perhaps it was a visual comment on how she viewed the challenge from Salmond.

In another she was shot gazing through binoculars, no doubt viewing the distant prospect of indyref 2. Independence can’t even be spotted from space.

She was largely untouched by her opponents throughout, although she did have a “riddy” on national TV, not about the lack of a currency plan or the hard border in the Solway Firth, but after a spot of campaigning on that one day of sun that pan stick couldn’t cover.

Not Patrick’s day

THE SNP’s gardening section, the Greens, had a good one, largely because SNP voters who didn’t think Sturgeon was committed enough to the referendum couldn’t thole voting for Eck, grasped the organic option and went for them on the peach list ballot form.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Greens, staged his own stunt at a wildlife rescue centre and got down in the dirt with a fox which tried chewing on his left ear.

It’s nice when surrogates do to them what they do to us. But someone should tell Patrick that it’s only humans who can vote although, in the wholly unfeasible event of the Greens gaining power, who knows? Nothing succeeds like failure, at least if you’re Willie Rennie. He’s been leading the Scottish Liberal Democrats for 10 years, deeper into the wilderness, only to pop up in election campaigns, like a meerkat in the savannah, with even more ridiculous stunts completely unhinged from policies.

Poor Willie

THIS time it’s all been about size. There he was, Wee Willie Winkie, waving to the cameras from an enormous yellow deckchair on the shingle of the Forth with the rail bridge in the background. What did it mean, apart from look at me? Was it a comment on the shrunken nature of politicians? No, it was about Willie.

Then he posed with giant letters, and numbers 1, 2 and 3 – well, he won’t be any of them – and an outsize Connect 4 game, where he dropped large coloured disks into the 42 empty spaces, perhaps representing each day’s discarded policy, like scrapping tuition fees?

But at least he could manage that. He staged the stunt with the mammoth chessboard and the game pieces he led with black, when anyone who has played chess knows you start with white.

Of course, there is the possibility that these weren’t mammoth props but that Willie is suffering from some malignant variant of the shrivelling disease sarcopenia and is actually the uncredible shrinking man. Can someone check?

That was the pandemic election that was. Played out on social media and through TV screens.

The participants unwittingly and occasionally stumbled over real voters, more often tripped themselves in front of the reporters and TV crews they had summoned, but they moved on as if nothing had happened. And perhaps it hadn’t?