This is a guest post from Aidan Skinner. He’s also not the Messiah.

As a Labour man, you’d expect me to say it’s all Alex Salmond’s fault. Well it is. The Holyrood 2011 campaign is a few weeks old and so far it’s been dominated by one man. Monty Python. The SNP started it with the “What have the Romans ever done for us” party political broadcast. Then Iain Gray joined in, doing his best Terry Jones impression at the Labour conference.

At which point it got silly. STV tried to make up for excluding Patrick Harvie from the debate and by showing him as the messiah in their iconography. The Liberal Democrats joined in by splitting into the Democratic Liberal Party (O’Donnell-Mcdaid) and John Farquhar Munro forming the Popular Front (Alex Salmond for First Minister).

It’s all very reminiscent of days spent setting fire to Space Raiders in student unions to see if pickled onion ones burn better than cheese (they do). As has, unfortunately, been the level of debate so far (reminded me of student days, although I’m sure some would like to set all of Holyrood a light with a Bic). With Labour and the SNP occupying much the same policy ground and dominating the share of the vote it’s all been a bit “I put it to him that he smells and should TAKE A SHOWER”. Policies are being stolen, positions are being triangulated,blusters are being.. blown? Anyway, I don’t think Sunder Katwala’s prediction of a red-yellow coalition is likely, but he does have a point about the virulence of the debate between the two being at least partly due to the broad similarity of the policies and the search for synthetic differences.

Ultimately, though, I think there is one big difference. And that’s the form the two administrations could take, as has been outlined in this blog previously. Another SNP minority government with Tory support is conceivable but I can’t really see Annabel Goldie leading her troops into a tacit agreement with Labour. John Reid’d blow a blood vessel for one thing, and who’d clear that up? The Lib Dems arealso pretty toxic to Labour at the moment, and might not even have enough seats to put together a majority Labour-LibDem government anyway. So perhaps the difference is less one of substance, more who’s going to come to whose painfully obscure indie night. Hopefully now we’re in manifesto week we’ll get some actual substance. They’re rather dry and dull things though, so here’s a handy precis of what you can expect to see from each party:

Tories – due to the mess we inherited from Labour all you can have is dry toast. As the former first secretary to the Treasury said “there is no jam left”.

Lib Dems – at the last election we promised jam for everyone. We didn’t win outright, and due to the mess we inherited from Labour all you can have is dry toast. We still hold to our Liberal Democrat policy of jam tomorrow.

SNP – the London government has imposed budget cuts so all you can have is dry toast. In an independent Scotland we’d be able to use oil revenue to purchase jam for everyone.

Labour – due to the savage and unnecesssary cuts imposed by the Tory-led government in Westminster everyone has to have dry toast. We have however secured a new jam-making apprenticeship scheme so the young people of Scotland can learn to make jam tomorrow.

Greens – our continued dependence on jam is unsustainable. Everyone should begin a transition to rape seed oil spread.