FOR such an important election, it’s amazing how tedious it has got with still another 10 days to go and everybody saying the same thing over and over again – even the Tories, though they ought to use the money they have to pay for something better.

If our problems are just the same as Boris’s (their claim, not mine), let’s imitate him! You can see their problem.

At least I feel relieved of a terrible responsibility, in that I can stick with the vote for Alba I declared at the beginning. Alex Salmond comes, like on previous occasions, as near as possible to sensible economic policies in a Scotland that has very little idea of them. I do hope the defeat of Alba will not be too inglorious, since he is a man who has done so much for his country. But I think now the best he can hope for is a peaceful retirement while he looks on, shaking his head at the follies of others.

Some interesting aspects of the whole business may in fact have been hardly mentioned so far. I mainly mean the growing tendency for Scottish politics to live a life of its own, scarcely related to UK politics, which is nowadays more accurately described as English politics. After a bit of humming and hawing, the Prime Minister decided to take no further part in the Scottish campaign at all, having discovered from a trip to Clydeside that nobody here was the least bit interested in listening to him. And he has not been back since.

His northern PA, Ruth Davidson, has made little difference either, so the Tories are left exposed by the gaffe-prone impulses of Douglas Ross, a man unable to open his mouth without putting his foot in it. I don’t mind Labour’s Anas Sarwar so much, except to say he should find a better party to lead. But the ones I really can’t stand are the LibDems. When I use the word liberal I mean by it a party that is frugal in finance and prudent in policy, yet I find in Willie Rennie and his pygmy crew the opposite of these public virtues.

Still, it strikes me that all who have for the past quarter-century been in the habit of describing Scottish politics in almost identical terms to UK politics may by now be making a big mistake. Our system has in fact have been developing rather quickly away from the Westminster model, that is to say, from a two-party system with the mechanism of alternating men and measures.

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It may actually have already evolved into something rather different, not quite into a one-party state, because we are still democratic, but certainly into a state where one of the parties enjoys utter dominance and none of the others has the least chance of taking over. This kind of state may be unusual, but it certainly exists in places like Turkey and South Africa: not encouraging examples, but what are we going to do about it?

Here, just as there, ideological disputes are personalised, character counts for more than conviction, elections are less important than reshuffles, stability is prized above all. Nicola Sturgeon thinks we should deal with the real world not by taking gambles on guesses about the future but by extending our control of it, in politics, in policies and in personnel. That is how she set out to be the successor to Salmond, and with enough zeal to bring him into conflict with her. He goes around saying that in truth she has much more ambition to run an efficient health service than an independent country.

But when Salmond launched Alba this month, he was not carrying much ideological luggage either. With his jovial social conscience, he is quite capable at the same time of putting across the capitalist case for an independent Scotland and has often done so, even to audiences, such as the party conference, not all that inclined to listen. His latest initiative attracted a mixed bag of converts – distinguished, however, mainly by antagonism to Sturgeon.

For a start, a couple of senior colleagues, Kenny MacAskill and George Kerevan, announced their conversion to Alba on the grounds that Sturgeon had turned into a right-wing neo-liberal. While not meant as a compliment, this was a bit extravagant. My column is right-wing and neo-liberal, but there are few things about which it agrees with Nicola. On the contrary, it would describe her as a socialist, even if she does not make a habit of describing herself as such. All the same, among the measures she smiles on are high public expenditure, nationalisation and the political direction of private investment. Those are socialist policies.

And yet, a significant migrant lured home to join Alba’s list at this crucial juncture is Jim Walker, a son of Kilbarchan who has spent most of his career as a Far East financier. There is nobody whose judgment of markets I would trust more. I hope it will be vindicated again in the political market of this election. And how about beguiling Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh? Also in Alba! She could be described in many ways, but I don’t think right-wing neo-liberal is one.

Nicola, on the other hand, lacks interest in political theory and doctrine of the left or anywhere else. She does have a lot of time for feminist militancy (hardly a policy programme in itself). Otherwise she pops up at party conferences with a long list of uncosted promises to delight the loyal. That is one big reason public debate in Scotland is carried on the way it is, by means of reactions and slogans rather than observation and analysis.

It has helped Nicola to reach the enviable position of being more popular than her own party. Policy cannot be the reason, because she doesn’t have much policy except on coronavirus. Though sometimes on that subject she has only been able to offer bad news, still her audience has remained respectful and obedient, even with her at her most repetitive.

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A good example of how she has effortlessly maximised her advantage lies in her skill at blending policy with the social and economic goal of advancing equality. I do not myself believe equality makes much difference to the economy one way or the other. In fact the existing economic superpower of the US has much less equality than most countries. The rising economic superpower, China, becomes less equal all the time.

Of our problems at home in Scotland, the biggest is transitional, the need for success in running down the North Sea oil industry. Setting out our great economic challenge as one requiring a social revolution is inaccurate. It would also end in failure, as the only cases of sustained economic growth well above the international average have been found in countries catching up with neighbours.

Scotland already has a highly developed economy with a workforce prosperous and educated by international standards. What we need to find are nuanced ways of improving our performance. The Government has to get the basics right, like education, as well as

build a robust and efficient infrastructure for the private sector to use. But the rest is up to us. We don’t need to pick winners and chase rainbows.

In that case, I suppose we’ll have to put up with dull elections too.