Good week

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies

Elections frequently appear remote from reality. After all, politicians are seeking to convince you that they are the physical embodiment of virtue – while the other lot are utter charlatans and hypocrites. The IFS has not been alone in questioning that conclusion. But it has been the most acute and persistent critic. This week, their director Paul Johnson said that the UK had high debt, record taxation, subdued growth and struggling public services. He added that these facts were “largely ignored” by the two main party manifestos. His words – and the accusation of a conspiracy of silence – will endure beyond polling day.

Bad week

Alister Jack, retiring Scottish Secretary

Alister Jack has his admirers. It is commonplace in Scottish Tory circles to say that he was right to get tough with the SNP by, for example, blocking Holyrood legislation. Part, it is said, of a more muscular Unionism. However, he landed in mildly warm water this week when he admitted he had placed bets on the date of the election. Two wagers lodged in March were lost – before, finally, he won in April by betting that polling would be between July and September. To be fair, he stressed he had no advance knowledge. Not alone, there, Alister, even in Cabinet. And, to be quite clear, his wagers were upon the date. Not the outcome.