WE are mere days into the General Election campaign and things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the main UK parties.

On the Tory side, Cabinet ministers are being benched at such an alarming rate that soon Michael Gove will be the only safe pair of hands the party have. That is, when he’s not doing that weird clapping thing.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s heartless comments about Grenfell, in which he implied that the victims of the fire lacked “common sense”, were mischaracterised as a “gaffe” by too many journalists who should know better.

The idiot squad sent out to defend him only made matters worse. In an act akin to using lighter fluid to put out your cigarette, Andrew Bridgen spoke about how clever his 18th-century pal is: “And we want very clever people running the country, don’t we?’’ In fairness to Bridgen, you need only look to the Tory front bench to see they have a hard time differentiating between a posh accent and real intellect.

READ MORE: Andrew Bridgen sorry for defending Jacob Rees-Mogg Grenfell comments

The perpetually smug James Cleverly has thus far failed to live up to his name. He was empty-chaired by Kay Burley when he bottled an interview and skewered on Good Morning Britain over the doctored video of Labour’s Keir Starmer pumped out by the Dominic Cummings misinformation machine.

Somebody more charitable than I am would perhaps describe the first week of Labour’s General Election campaign as “faltering”. But let’s not be coy: they’ve had a nightmare, too. A tearful Ian Austin insisted “I am not a Tory’’ as he told Sky News viewers they should vote for the Conservatives over Labour – the party he had represented in Parliament for more than a decade. He then teamed up with former Labour MP John Woodcock for a photo-op in front of a poster which read: “Jeremy Corbyn: A disgrace to his party, a disgrace to this country.’’ The Jewish Chronicle published an arresting front page appealing to non-Jews to think very carefully about how they vote in the upcoming election, citing the inaction of Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

READ MORE: Labour campaign hit by turmoil as Ian Austin urges Tory vote

And then there was Tom Watson’s shock announcement that he would be standing down as a candidate and deputy leader of the Labour Party to concentrate on – among other things – writing a book about his weight loss and type 2 diabetes.

Jo Swinson spent the first week of the campaign accusing Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn of being too frit to take her on in a debate.

The National:

If she genuinely believes that then I want a double-dose of some of what she’s having.

The LibDem leader took this assertion to its natural conclusion by threatening to sue ITV over her omission from their leaders’ debate. You get the sense she is eagerly anticipating her own “I agree with Nick” moment. Pity for her that the prevailing opinion seems to be “I agree with ITV”.

The wildly misleading LibDem bar charts that are a feature of the party’s election literature forced Swinson – on live television – to try to defend the indefensible.

READ MORE: Three times Jo Swinson’s LibDems misled voters

Attempting to do so left her spluttering about lies on the side of a bus not being the same as lies on paper, because the facts were there in the small print, or something.

And just what is it about the leadership of Corbyn and Johnson that inspires such reprobates to stand as candidates for their parties? Amid the Brexit omnishambles, vetting procedures have been woeful. Barely an hour goes by without candidates standing down after revelations about their personal conduct and past behaviour.

It’s not only the inability to launch an election campaign that unites these three UK parties, though. They are also bound together by the close ties of being anti-indyref2.

READ MORE: This is what Jo Swinson's constituents think of her ambitions for No 10

Of course, Labour are softening. But they still insist – with all the conviction of a chocolate-covered toddler denying they’ve raided the sweetie drawer – that Labour will not “allow” indyref2 in the “formative years” of a Labour government.

For the Tories and the LibDems, the message this week has been clear. No to a second independence referendum, under any circumstances, regardless of how Scotland votes on December 12.

They flit between bullish arrogance “we will not allow it” and faux affection “it would break our hearts to see Scotland go” as they spout this undemocratic nonsense.

It’s a bit rich for parties that began their campaigns with such a lack of finesse to tell Scotland that they know best. If this week is anything to go by, we’re in for a campaign of mis-steps and mis-speaking, unforced errors and brazen arrogance from the Unionist parties.

By the time polling day comes, if those same parties are still claiming that they are the authority on what’s good for Scotland, they should be asked to show their working.