THIS election is intriguing more for what is not being discussed rather than for the ideas that are actually being put forward. Let’s look at these political lacunae before trying to comprehend the cause of this anti-democratic conspiracy of silence.

Up front and foremost is the fact that both Labour and Conservatives are lying to us about the state of the public finances. Yesterday’s Tory manifesto offered more (unfunded) cuts to National Insurance, while Labour are promising to create a new state energy company by squeezing yet more cash from the energy companies – which will only choke off investment and so actually reduce the tax take.

But the problems go deeper than election bribes: the UK kitty is empty and the big Unionist parties are keeping schtum about it.

Consider Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor. She has promised that an incoming Labour government will remain committed to exactly the same public debt target as the outgoing Jeremy Hunt – namely, that total debt should fall as a share of GDP in five years’ time.

This is the beating heart of Labour’s proposal to prioritise economic stability, aka keeping the City of London satisfied it is going to get its money back. But here’s the catch: to do so implies huge spending cuts and/or tax rises.

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This is because Hunt’s proposals for reaching the debt target are deliberately vague, and Reeves is in no hurry to fill in the blanks. But if taxes are kept flat and borrowing is set to fall – which both parties are promising to do – this can only be achieved by squeezing public spending.

True, Labour and the Tories both offer a tiny rise in funding for so-called “protected departments” (health and defence). However, this will be paid for by even greater cuts to spending in the other, unprotected, services (chiefly local authorities, legal services, policing and prisons).

Hunt has been careful not to specify what these cuts will be and Reeves has not challenged him. But the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank reckons they will have to be around 3.5 per cent in real terms each and every year till the target is reached.

On top of that, Hunt swore on a stack of Bibles to the official watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), that he would raise extra revenues from unspecified “efficiency savings” (pull the other one) and by assuming a rise in fuel duty (highly unlikely, on past experience). Result: a gaping fiscal black hole that whoever forms the next government will have to fill.

Which means, of course, all this talk from Labour about voting for “change” is absolute hooey. It also explains why Reeves abandoned Labour’s much-vaunted plan to spend £28 billion on investment in getting to net zero.

She knows the cash isn’t there, at least without abandoning the fiscal rule of lowering the national debt. I worked with Reeves when we both served on the Treasury Select Committee. She will deliver a Labour version of austerity and enjoy doing it.

Reeves is putting up the smokescreen that Labour has a plan to boost economic growth, and so raise extra taxes by default. But the official OBR forecast is for lower than average GDP growth.

Plus Reeves has nothing in the kitty with which to invest in growth – she is constrained in borrowing by the high cost of servicing existing government debt. If she borrows more, the cash will end up going to the banks in interest payments. Prospect: Reeves will have to raise taxes next year.

Now, I’m not against raising taxes per se. If we want to fund the NHS properly, and if we want to invest more in industry, we may need to shift spending away from consumption. But this first requires a public debate about means and ends – and this is a debate we are not having. To be frank: we are being lied to big time by the Unionist cabal.

And it’s funny how the European Union has also disappeared off the agenda. OK, I agree the subject has been done to death and most folk want a respite. But the underlying issue of how we structure our trade with the rest of the world is not going away. The much-promised trade deals promised by former prime minister Boris Johnson have failed to materialise. What to do?

One immediate prize from Scottish independence would be quick access to the Single Market through membership of the European Free Trade Association. That would boost Scottish growth while still leaving us with local control over agriculture and fishing.

Speaking of which, farming and fisheries – both strategic to the Scottish economy – are also ghosts at this election feast. Thankfully, the collapse of the Bute House Agreement with the Greens has seen off some daft ideas about over-regulating (as in strangling) the fishing industry.

But that still means we are in want of a policy for the sector. You might think that with a cost-of-living crisis, a plan to increase self-sufficiency in food production would be a good thing. Alas, who is talking about that right now?

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Another are being underplayed is energy policy – strange, given that skyrocketing fuel prices are the main cause of the cost-of-living crisis. Labour has come up with a wheeze: the Great British Energy company. But this turns out to be more of a publicity stunt than a serious proposal.

First, assuming GBE got up and running by (say) 2026, it will take at least a decade to add extra green generating capacity. So GBE is a non-starter when it comes to meeting Labour’s declared policy of all-green electricity by 2030.

As for GBE cutting your power bill, two-thirds of what you pay is not in generation costs but for transmission and distribution. Unless the new government does something to reduce transmission costs, your power bill is not going to fall.

Why are basic, bread-and-butter matters not being discussed in this campaign? One obvious reason is that none of the big Unionist parties are prepared to come clean on matters that will expose their prior incompetence, lack of imagination and surrender to vested interests. The bumbling Westminster system no longer scrutinises legislation or hold ministers to account – witness the vast financial corruption spawned during the Covid crisis.

The Unionist parties have become coteries of the ambitious and the self-serving. Political debate has been converted into trite manipulation of an increasingly disillusioned electorate. In this atmosphere, demagogues like Nigel Farage (above) and George Galloway prosper.

In all this, the commercial and state media is complicit. Debate has become secondary to entertainment. For the BBC, fear of regulatory retribution by the ruling parties makes the corporation reticent to let unorthodox and challenging views be broadcast, except as minor diversions.

The billionaire-owned newspapers are, as always, political mouthpieces for the status quo. Minor parties and individuals with something new to say are marginalised. Social media affords a degree of democratic access, but even here the big bucks of the established party oligarchies is starting to dominate.

This election will change nothing directly. More austerity is on its way. Conclusion: Labour’s political honeymoon will be short-lived. It is time to rally the Scottish resistance.