IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It’s too obvious to say that this week has been a tale of two manifestos but we’re doing it anyway.

Rishi Sunak launched the Tories’ offering at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix. It is also where the wheels come off, where cars skid off course, the home of unfortunate pile-ups, car crashes, et cetera and so on.

Out in the fields of Northamptonshire, the Prime Minister led his weary troops once more around the track, insisting that only the Tories were going to bring down taxes and immigration and put those horrible young people to some bloody use with new national service plans.

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Pension recipients would not pay tax, the self-employed would become exempt from National Insurance, immigration would be halved then reduced year-on-year until we were actively exporting Brits to any country that would have them.

Of course, no one was buying it. It wasn’t a manifesto designed to be implemented in government. It was designed as a rallying cry to stop Tory voters from staying at home or drifting towards Nigel Farage’s Reform Party. It sounded more like a cry for help.

And drift the Tory faithful have. One in a seemingly constant stream of polls released this week heralded the anticipated “crossover” point, where Reform overtook the Tories.

Farage today declared himself the real leader of the opposition, as he demanded a head-to-head debate with Keir Starmer.

Starmer derided Farage’s campaign as “pantomime” when launching the Labour manifesto in Manchester later in the week.

(Image: PA)

If the Tories were promising what they won’t do when they lose power, Labour’s manifesto was about what they won’t do when they gain power.

There were no new powers for Scotland, no concrete pledges to overturn Tory welfare policies, no return to Europe, no rises in income tax, VAT, National Insurance or corporation tax.

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There was a commitment not to return to austerity – a pledge that evaporated the minute economic experts had time to digest the document.

Economists from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Institute for Government - two organisations as sober and serious as their names suggest - rubbished Labour’s commitments to not put up taxes while getting borrowing down without a return to austerity.

Meanwhile, SNP big cheeses John Swinney and Stephen Flynn are in Germany at the time of writing, enjoying some Münchner Hell before Scotland’s showdown with Germany tonight.

It should be some welcome relief to the two, who are facing a tough election campaign, though perhaps better than expected.

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Their manifesto comes out next week. We know what page one, line one will say. Beyond that, we need to wait and see.

Swinney got himself into a bit of a flap this week by appearing to row back on the party’s independence strategy – saying that the SNP winning a majority of seats should count as a mandate for indyref2.

Now that’s a bit far off the mandate for independence the party had previously agreed.

Most voters will be backing the party they believe will do the best job of not being the Tories. The SNP must convince voters that it’s them and not Labour if they want to see off a serious routing in Scotland.

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