GIVEN the sharp policy divisions and the scale of the issues involved in this election, it ought to be galvanising the electorate and sparking real debate, but, unfortunately, there seems to be little evidence of that so far.

Part of the reason may be that topics such as Brexit and independence have shouldered aside normal priorities such as the economy and tax. They may also have entrenched committed positions among voters; the Remain/Leave divide may be helping the LibDems south of the border, while the Unionist/Independence debate may help the Scottish Tories do better than expected.

For those for whom these issues do not define the election, there is the problem of whether any party can create enthusiasm for their other stances. Both the radical Left-wing manifesto of Labour and the high-spending, but otherwise extremely vague, programme outlined by the Conservatives have been criticised as unrealistic by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The LibDems’ other policies are obscured by their concentration on revocation at all costs. The SNP, however much they campaign on supposed Tory threats to education or health, are hampered by the fact that voters who are not convinced Nationalists know that those are matters where the debate is on their record in government.

Where there is debate, that is to say. One problem – not merely with participation in TV debates and interviews – is that the campaign is being conducted on all sides by reference to strategy, polling, micro-targeting, data analysis and triangulation.

That has always been true to some extent, but the digital age has enabled strategists to ignore principled campaigning in favour of ruthless calculation of electoral advantage. The Tory absence from Channel 4’s climate debate wasn’t because the party disputes the science or because it doesn’t have a set of green policies not much different from the other mainstream parties, but because they saw no electoral gain to be made from it.

That may be correct, though ducking out of an interview with Andrew Neil (if the PM does do that) is riskier; Theresa May’s campaign was destroyed by her failure to present her case and her inclination to hide from scrutiny.

That’s any politician’s prerogative; journalists have no ability to compel them to respond. But simply to stand for election is to invite scrutiny, and the public is entitled to draw conclusions if those standing refuse to debate, in favour of nebulous soundbites or unrealistic promises.

Any result in this election could be – is likely to be – seismic; the most Left-wing agenda ever if Labour win; Brexit with only the wooliest indications of what follows if the Tories do; a potential rerun of their independence referendum if the SNP have significant clout; a reversal of the Brexit vote if the Lib Dems do.

These require scrutiny and consideration, not simply naked electoral calculations about where parties can gain ground by evasion or obfuscation. All the parties might bear in mind that polls and estimates have been wildly wrong in the past, and they might be better off putting a straightforward case for their policies.

Gaelic galore

THE courts may be correct in law to prioritise a school’s location rather than the language in which it teaches as the deciding factor in weighing up a child’s best interests, but that is itself a strong case for more widespread Gaelic education. It is an essential component of our heritage, not merely that of the Gaidhealtachd, and its development enrich cultural life throughout Scotland. In a word English got from it, Gaelic schools galore.