A full picture of the battle of ideas amongst the Holyrood parties is beginning to emerge with the SNP manifesto launched today.

I have not had a chance to read through it but the headline item appears to be the pledge to freeze council tax for five years, ‘beating’ Labour’s pledge by three years. The promise appears to be an extension of the narrative of this campaign so far – how much can one party promise with dwindling moneys in the bank.

Freezing Council Tax was initially supposed to be a short-term precursor to Local Income Tax but, as I predicted earlier this week, Local Income Tax does not seem to have made the cut for this manifesto – too tricky, too icky. Seemingly, a problem delayed is a problem solved for this campaign.

The rest of the manifesto seems very appealing, exciting even – 100% renewables by 2020, 130,000 low carbon jobs, early cancer detection, £50m for a national football academy (taken from the BBC report as Scotsman rather bizarrely has an “SNP rattled after Labour capitalises on anti-Tory fears” article rather than a more substantial take on the SNP’s pledges. I wonder who the publication will be backing).

The SNP giveaways are well judged but they are predicated on a shortfall in spending on a bridge that hasn’t been built yet. That doesn’t seem to be the firmest terrain to make promises on, though I suspect most voters won’t consider this when they come to deciding who to vote for.

The key consideration that I expect will be made is whether to back the SNP’s five year freeze on Council tax or Labour’s two year freeze. It’s no contest really so isn’t it lucky for Salmond that he got to release his manifesto later than Gray did!

Iain Gray is in a very sticky situation – he cannot attack the SNP for freezing the tax for five years while he has frozen it for two so what possible argument can be made for his policy in the debates to come? Labour’s chickens are coming to roost here in stealing SNP policies rather than fully forming their own.

Once again the ball is in Iain Gray’s court and once again he has to deal with a mess of his own making.

I’ve not even read their manifesto but it looks like upper hand to the SNP so far today.