THE 2015 General Election campaign has started with a vengeance. Three leaders’ debates, one smear, one UK civil service inquiry, reams and reams of analysis and the odd poll – or six. So let me add my tuppence worth.

Let’s start with the leak of the report of “the conversation”. It took less than four hours for that piece of fiction to be dismissed. Not only by the First Minister and the French Ambassador to whom she is supposed to have said what she didn’t say. The French Consul General also confirmed that he did not report to anyone what he is alleged to have reported and he did not do that because the comments he is alleged to have reported did not, in fact, occur. End of. Except for one or two important loose ends.

Do we have either the Conservative leader in Scotland or the UK or the Labour leader in Scotland or the UK or a Lib Dem (from wherever) stepping forward and saying this is all outrageous? That politics should not be demeaned by this sort of smear and they roundly condemn it? That they wish they hadn’t so rashly assumed it was true when it palpably wasn’t? And that they apologise unreservedly to both the FM and to the electorate? Nope.

What we’re being told now is that somehow the proven untruth is really true because “we all know” that what the FM didn’t say is what she really thinks. So it’s perfectly OK to keep repeating it. I had no idea these folks had access to the thought fairy. But what I do know is that they work on the basis that if you repeat a lie often enough, it will be believed. Especially if it’s “in the paper.”. Yes, it is farcical. But it is also dangerous. Dangerous to perpetuate a lie, dangerous to so degrade politics and dangerous to be so utterly contemptuous of the rest of us.

There’s more. Others have touched on the astonishing and cavalier admission by Alistair Carmichael that he knows who wrote the leaked report. The report of the non-conversation was, we are told, written by someone in the Scotland Office. A point blithely skimmed over. But wait a minute. When did it become legitimate for the Scotland Office to report on private conversations between the head of the Scottish Government and anyone? Is that their job these days? Is that what justifies the not insignificant amount of money from our taxes that is spent on them? No, I don’t think so either.

Now let’s turn to the polls, the debates and the policy positions. Labour, we are told, needs to recapture its place in Scotland as the party of social justice. And so Jim Murphy will focus on the policy offers he believes are most likely to do that. That is a one-dimensional analysis which falls far short of what they need to do to win back the very many who don’t plan on voting for them. Because the plain fact of the matter is that past Labour supporters simply don’t trust Labour anymore. Too many times Labour politicians have proven themselves to be good with words but pretty poor with deeds. Too many times they have voted with the Tories and, in recent times, campaigned with them. Too many of their MPs are listed amongst “the disappeared” except when they want our vote.

Voters in Scotland are cautious and canny. After the past year, they are also increasingly savvy about political argument and increasingly engaged and wanting a say. That doesn’t mix well with campaign soundbites and MPs lodged in Westminster for years who need to put their face on the leaflet because that is the only way you’d know them.

The votes Labour is haemorrhaging won’t be protest votes. They will be votes for the same values, hopes and aspirations as in the past but this time they will go to progressive parties offering progressive policies that work for the many and don’t prop up the sense of entitlement of the few: policies that the recent Ipsos Mori poll shows sit well with a growing number of Scottish voters, regardless of how they voted on independence.

The distrust of Labour, borne out of painful experience, has grown over many years and has slowly but very surely eroded the loyalty Labour too often has taken for granted. Policy offers to “recapture” your place are all well and good – but by their deeds, actions and behaviour, we now know them.