This election campaign already seems to be dragging. With the election itself more than 3 weeks away, the party manifestos are only just appearing, and all that seems to have happened so far is that the rival parties are making claims about what they would do if elected, claims are often completely unsubstantiated.
For example, the Tories keep making promises about money that they would spend (today it was increasing the level at which inheritance tax is payable, yesterday it was the NHS, etc.) But at the same time they go on about making savings ‘to reduce the deficit’. Do they really think the electorate are all stupid? (No further comment on that one!) On the other hand, Labour seemed to capture the mood when they announced that they would remove ‘non-dom’ status; quite right, and it’s shocking that it even still exists in my view. And for a change, this claim was costed out.
I have to mention the attack by the Tory defence minister on Ed Miliband, which seemed to be based on some kind of Cain and Abel conspiracy. I think Ed emerged from that the stronger; after all, he and his brother were only rivals for the party leadership, and no blood was shed! It showed how low the Tories can sink in order to make political capital, and it was not a pretty sight.
Perhaps the one thing that has made me smile so far (which is rare in an election campaign) was Nicola Sturgeon’s (allegedly) stellar performance in the televised election debate. But hang on, she’s not an MP, so why was she even there!? She could promise the moon and stars if she wanted, because she can never be held to account. After the debate there were apparently enquiries from some obviously bright sparks about whether they could vote SNP in England. I give up.
I heard a representative of the YouGov polling organisation say this weekend that Labour and the Tories are absolutely neck in neck at this stage of the campaign. Well, maybe, but if the Tories continue making desperate claims which they would clearly be unable to fulfill, their credibility might start to fall away. And if Ed Miliband’s standing keeps improving, as it seems to be, then the (mostly) sensible policies Labour are proposing might help them improve their position. The unknowns are UKIP, who might win 2-3 seats, the LibDems, who will likely have far less seats after the election, and the SNP. Personally I doubt they (the SNP) will get quite as many seats as some are predicting, but they will nevertheless be a factor for whoever forms the next government. And, if they are seen to be affecting policies that are only relevant to England, for example, then surely that is a step in the direction of separate parliaments for each of the home nations? But that remains to be seen. In the meantime the endurance test continues.