TO Glasgow University’s grand Bute Hall where the televised Scottish leadership debate is taking place. I’ve never been convinced that any of these staged and choreographed set pieces have ever moved a significant number of votes in favour of or against any of the participants. 

We will never hear, for instance, any party leader exclusively reveal a major new policy initiative.

Nor will there be any pledges to release cash for anything specific. None of them will ever get personal and vindictive with their opponents: it’s all “John, you once said this,” or “Anas, that’s simply not true.” 

I’m not sure either that having the leaders of the two main parties standing next to each other just a foot apart was a good idea. It could have been predicted that the bulk of the exchanges would unfold between John Swinney and Anas Sarwar. It meant that, at times, there were two debates happening simultaneously.

I must however, give Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, her due. I’ve been highly critical of this party owing to its obsession with the cult of extreme gender ideology and being responsible for creating a hostile environment for feminists and gay people who believe sex is immutable.

Ms Slater’s performances on live television, until now, have been a tough watch. No matter how much you disagree with a candidate or public figure, our common humanity, I think, kicks in.

Thus, you don’t want them to be embarrassed.

Happily, though, she seems to have gained a degree of confidence at this game which may not be unconnected with being free of the shackles of ministerial responsibility. Tuesday night was the strongest I’ve seen her perform. 

It also showed the electorate that when the Greens stick to the values that we all thought they stood for they are worthy of our consideration. 

In general terms these are: responsible stewardship of the natural world, redistribution of wealth, and compelling very rich individuals and corporations to hand over a proportionate share of their worker-derived profits. 

I suspect, though, that while the cult of the leader holds sway in the Scottish Greens, their crazy obsession with denying science and marginalising women will continue to make it difficult for them to be taken seriously as a political force in their own right. 

Tory hegemony
Thus far, it’s been a disastrous campaign for the Tories north and south of the Border. Since the dawn of full universal suffrage, the British people have regarded them as the natural party of government. They have governed the UK for twice as long as the Labour Party. 

This seems to be anomalous, given that working-class people, or those from working-class backgrounds, easily outnumber those who always stand to gain the most from the Tories in power. 

I suspect that much of this is down to the historical perception that rich people can be entrusted with the nation’s finances more than those of modest means. “They’re rich and we’re not, so they seem to know how to use money.” 

PM Rishi Sunak

The Tories have also had more charismatic characters that seem to appeal to Middle England, that amorphous and shape-shifting mass whose numbers will always eclipse Scotland’s voting bloc.

They’re also indelibly associated with the royal family and with the British military. 

These are two trump cards they can play at any given time, safe in the knowledge that the Labour Party can never really match their pedigree in these arenas no matter how hard they try. 

Boris Johnson was expert in exploiting this and also in conveying the impression that he was an innocent among brigands when, in actual fact, the reverse was true. 

Blue Sky thinking
THERE have been several key moments during this election campaign which made you realise that it was running away from Rishi Sunak. 

Chief among them, I think, was his observation last week that among the challenges he faced growing up in a privileged household was having no access to satellite television. 

People know that Mr Sunak is among the super-rich and will overlook this so long as he doesn’t try to pretend that he’s something he’s clearly not. 

The Prime Minister would have seemed much more convincing if he’d simply said: “Look, I had a privileged upbringing where I wanted for nothing. 

“My aim is to create a Britain that reduces the inequality from which I benefited.”

Of course, that can never occur whenever the Tories are in power, simply because they are hard-wired to retain ownership of the means of production and the profits derived from this in as few hands as possible. 

The trick is to convince working people that they too can share in the bounty.

Labour the point
AT the age of 16, I campaigned for Dennis Canavan in the old West Stirlingshire constituency at the 1979 election. The estate on which I then lived was a modest “bought-hoose” neighbourhood comprising mainly of people who were the first in their families ever to have taken out a mortgage.

On one doorstep I was taken to task by an obstreperous fellow who was dismissive of the Labour Party. His point seemed to be that the Tories would look after his newly-acquired 
interests much better than Labour. 

Now, we’d been told before canvassing that we must never engage in political discussion on the doorsteps and simply gain an indication as to a person’s voting intentions. Furthermore, due to my tender age, I’d been told not to open my mouth and simply watch and learn. 

Unfortunately, I felt moved to tell this sclerotic chap that if it wasn’t for Labour he wouldn’t be living in a house like this in the first place. 

He duly made a complaint about my conduct and I was gently carpeted by our local organiser. 
My days as a canvasser were at an end.