Another month to go of desperate politicians trying to prove they are in touch with real life - Susan Dalgety

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at a train station in Cornwall on the General Election campaign trail. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA WirePrime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at a train station in Cornwall on the General Election campaign trail. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at a train station in Cornwall on the General Election campaign trail. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
There are 31 days until the general election. Four weeks and three days if you prefer. But however you describe it, we still have a month of campaigning to endure before the country can decide the next UK government.

A month of desperate politicians doing ever more crazy stunts to convince us that they are in touch with real life. Yes, Rishi Sunak, we spotted you getting on a train to Cornwall. I bet that one did not shudder to a halt halfway there, forcing you to queue up for a bus replacement service. That only happens to mere mortals like the rest of us, not multi-millionaire prime ministers. Funny that.

Labour leader Keir Starmer will spend the next few weeks being Keir Starmer – as dull as dishwater, although his blandness hides a certain ruthlessness that I can only admire. If elected PM, let’s hope he is as tough on the cost of living crisis as he has been on former leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was expelled from Labour Party a few days ago.

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It is hardly worth mentioning the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, whose only pitch to the voters seems to be increasingly crazy photo-ops. He fell off a paddleboard last week, just for laughs. Vote for me, I am funnier than Mr Bean, seems to be his campaign slogan.

Then there is John Swinney, leader of the SNP. Now just to be clear, Mr Swinney is not standing for election on July 4. He is First Minister of Scotland’s devolved government, and MSP for Perthshire North. But as the SNP’s new leader, following the resignation of hapless Humza Yousaf, Swinney is leading his party’s general election campaign. So far, he is not having a good time. His biggest mistake so far is his stubborn, some would say foolhardy, support for his mate Michael Matheson, the MSP who ran up an £11,000 bill on his work iPad, then tried to get the taxpayer to foot the bill.

The majority of MSPs voted last week for Matheson to be suspended from Holyrood for 27 days and to lose 54 days’ pay, the harshest sanction handed out to an MSP since the parliament was established in 1999. Instead of censuring Matheson, the First Minister tried to defend him, and continues to insist his long-time friend and colleague does not need to resign.

He said after the censure vote: “Michael should accept that punishment and continue to serve the people that sent him here.” Doesn’t John Swinney realise that in any other line of work, Michael Matheson would have been sacked for what he did? Is the SNP leader – who has been in Holyrood for 25 years – so out of touch with real life that he doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t he care?

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Tonight, STV will host a debate between Swinney and three other Scottish political leaders – Labour’s Anas Sarwar, Douglas Ross who heads up the Conservatives, and Alex Cole Hamilton, Lib Dem boss. None of these men are on the ballot paper next month, but as leaders of their respective parties in Scotland, what they say and how they act matters. John Swinney has a lot to prove.