PAY no heed to what the calendar says: the start of the season of peace and goodwill has been delayed.

On yesterday’s Sunday politics round, three battles were up and running, two current and one from (very) recent history.

The first featured Nadhim Zahawi, a Minister with an ex-file to rival Mulder and Scully’s. The ex-Education Secretary, ex-Chancellor (twice), and ex-Minister for Vaccine Delivery is now the chairman of the Conservative Party.

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It is his job to get ahead of the looming strikes and ensure his boss, Rishi Sunak, is not swiped in the blame game.

On Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday, he said the strikes would hurt the most vulnerable in society and send the wrong message to Vladimir Putin.

Host Sophy Ridge showed a poll by YouGov, the firm started by Mr Zahawi 22 years ago in his garden shed. Both politician and pollster have come a long way since.

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Ridge pointed to a sharp uptick for Labour. Not even this could dim Mr Zahawi’s enthusiasm. “I’d be worried if I was Keir Starmer,” he said, to Ridge’s amazement. According to the Conservative chair, the Labour leader’s numbers are “soft” and there is no passion for him among voters.

Battle number two took place in the newspapers, principally the Mail on Sunday, which was serialising the diaries of one Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk/I’m a Celebrity.

On Saturday, the disgraced ex-Health Secretary was full of the joys of love.

On Sunday it was all change as he launched a highly personal and political attack on Nicola Sturgeon. In Pandemic Diaries: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle Against Covid, Mr Hancock’s entry for July 25, 2020, lays bare his irritation with Scotland’s First Minister.

“In Cobra meetings, Nicola Sturgeon’s politicial games have become incredibly debilitating and significantly limit scope for open discussion. She sits like a statue, lips pursed like the top of a drawstring bag, only jolting into life when there’s an opportunity to say something to further the separatist cause.

“The minute someone presses ‘end meeting’ you can almost hear her running for a lectern so she can rush out an announcement before we make ours.”

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In a conclusion more damning of his position than the First Minister’s, he admits: “We now chew over big decisions elsewhere and relegate formal meetings to rubber-stamping exercises.”

Mr Hancock, who had the Conservative whip withdrawn for appearing on the TV reality show while the Commons is sitting, is in high dudgeon once more three days later.

“Sturgeon is on manoeuvres again, trying to persuade us all to sign up to her impossible and anti-scientific zero-Covid plan. Sure, we’d all love zero Covid, but that’s about as realistic as a bagpipe-playing unicorn. She just wants to look and sound tough, then blame us when her policies don’t work. I can hardly bear to watch her on TV any more.”

Elsewhere in the papers, families of people who died from Covid condemned what they saw as Mr Hancock cashing in on the pandemic. Others disputed the accuracy of his claims, chief among them that staff were primarily to blame for the spread in care homes.

Nadra Ahmed of the National Care Association told the Sunday Times that Mr Hancock’s memory of events bore no resemblance to the facts. “It’s a huge insult that he has written this book for his own gain. He did nothing, and he’s learnt nothing.”

The contest to be SNP leader at Westminister, the third, and in some ways most civilised battle of the day (for now anyway), featured on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show. The interview with Ian Blackford, soon to be ex-leader, was one item on a packed programme that could have easily run for an hour.

The show had the results of the first major poll since the Supreme Court’s ruling that Holyrood could not hold a referendum unilaterally. The Redfield and Wilton Strategies survey showed support for independence had increased, with 52% in favour and 48% backing the Union.

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But when asked who they would vote for in a General Election (which the SNP wants to use as a de factor indyref), the SNP was on 41%, down four points, while Labour was on 31%, up 12.

Mr Blackford, beamed in as usual from his home on Skye, said that after five years in he job he had been “released” to take up a new role of liaison between the SNP and business. “Were you released or were you pushed?” asked presenter Martin Geissler. “I took the decision,” said the MP.

The friendly tussle ended with Mr Blackford being invited back soon to discuss the SNP’s economic strategy. Maybe the season of peace and goodwill is beginning after all.