This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

The football has been a right headache for Scotland’s spin doctors. 

Their job is to get their masters on the news and get them into your living room every night.

It’s hard enough when the sun is shining and the result of the vote is so seemingly certain two weeks out that even Tory ministers are now admitting defeat.

Add in competing with the summer of sport and it’s a near impossible task.

It’s not just that folk are more interested in the football, it’s that the parties are hampered even just trying to get on the pitch. 

With the games being broadcast on terrestrial telly, the news bulletins are being shunted all over the schedules.

Most nights they’re having their running time cut right back. 

That matters. A lot of us get our news from the TV.

STV’s flagship evening 6pm news bulletin reaches an average audience of about 382,000, while the BBC’s Reporting Scotland, broadcast at 6.30pm, manages around 340,000.

On Monday, the STV News at Six went out at 4pm and instead of the usual half hour, it lasted just five minutes. 

So, regardless of what the Lib Dems might have had to say when they launched their manifesto in the morning, anyone heading to channel three wasn’t going to hear much about it. 

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Labour launches its manifesto on Tuesday and might get a bit more of a hearing given that John Mackay and his colleagues will have 20 minutes to play with. 

Though Reporting Scotland’s been shoved back to 7:20pm and is only on for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, the SNP launch their manifesto on Wednesday, the day of the next Scotland match.

I'm not sure what to read into the strategy here. If Steve Clarke’s men shake off last week’s gubbing and hammer the Swiss, then it’s unlikely we’ll see many pictures of John Swinney on the front page. 

However, another miserable night in Germany and it could be the First Minister rather than Angus Gunn or Kieran Tierney who makes Thursday’s splashes.

Some small mercies though, at least Scotland’s armies of Malcolm Tuckers no longer have to worry about trying to get their boss on the telly while Taylor Swift’s in town.

Relief too that the Holyrood election in 2026 will be done and dusted by the time the World Cup starts.

The Scottish Parliament vote looms heavily over this week’s launches from the Scottish parties.

As much as this is about July 4, it’s really much more about that vote in two years. 

Scottish Labour’s manifesto will be as much about Anas Sarwar moving into Bute House as it is about Sir Keir Starmer moving into Number 10. 

The eye-catching promises from the Lib Dem manifesto were on devolved areas; health, education and agriculture. 

That last one was why Alex Cole-Hamilton and his party decamped to Craigie’s Farm on the outskirts of North Queensferry to launch their policy prospectus.

Almost twice accidentally running your deputy over with a tractor is one way to get on the tellyAlmost twice accidentally running your deputy over with a tractor is one way to get on the telly (Image: PA)
By the way, almost twice accidentally running your deputy over with a tractor is one way to get on the telly.

Though, I’m 99% sure it’s not one that the hardworking good eggs of the Lib Dem comms team recommended to their boss. 

It’s going to be an interesting election for Mr Cole-Hamilton and his colleagues. 

Changes to Scotland’s constituencies have left his party notionally down two seats compared to where they were in 2019. 

Technically, they are only defending Orkney and Shetland and Edinburgh West. 

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Their activists will have to put in some effort to win back those the Boundary Commission took away, North East Fife and Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

They are confident they can do so.

They are also hopeful of winning Mid Dunbartonshire, which until the Boundary Commission got their hands on it was known as East Dunbartonshire and was, until 2019, held by Jo Swinson.

Winning that seat back would be exactly the sort of thing to motivate Lib Dem activists as they turn their eyes to 2026.