THERE are no loyalty bonuses for avid election debate watchers.

The politicians and broadcasters don’t thank us for our commitment. Instead, we are treated to a re-hash of the same lines we’ve heard before.

At this stage in a campaign, the lines are delivered with more urgency than they were at the start but they lose their fizz when we’re able to predict what a party leader is going to say before they say it.

Still, we had high hopes for Channel 4’s election debate. As is so often the case in Scottish politics, that optimism proved to be misplaced.

Firstly, the set. I don’t know why broadcasters favour the dark and gloomy Dracula’s basement- style set-up. Would it hurt to put party leaders in a well-lit room with maybe a few potted plants scattered around?

Next, the format. Of the three debates, this was the worst. If there was a structure it was hard to find. Time was short, and predictably the leaders shouted over one another to make sure they were heard.

The end result of that was that nobody was heard. Nothing was heard. Apart from the ringing in your ears.

And finally, the leaders. Anas Sarwar, who has emerged as the golden boy of the campaign, tripped up. In an exchange between Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross on the constitution, he interjected to patronisingly remind everybody that “we’re in the middle of a pandemic” as though anybody could have forgotten.

Willie Rennie was missing in action.

Nicola Sturgeon rarely got a word in without being shouted over but when she did, she was strong.

Patrick Harvie had some good lines but got lost in the rammy.

Douglas Ross went on the offensive and his tactic of screaming over everybody else was even more embarrassing and ill-judged than his Atomic Kitten dance routine.

Those with even the lowest of expectations will have still been disappointed with that shambles of a debate.