So the General Election campaign is off and running, less than 24 hours old and the messages are predictable because we have been hearing them for months. The bad news is, that we have another four months to go!
The Conservatives and their long term economic plan, Labour’s cost of living crisis and the Liberal Democrats “we are the steady hand of the coalition and will put the brake on anything silly.”
Labour Leader, Ed Miliband was first up in Salford. Sounding relaxed and energetic he fired the first salvo. This election he said represents “a once in a generation fight about who our country works for” – the cash strapped worker or the Tories best friends - the millionaires.
I thought we had seen this tub-thumping class-warfare disappear in the 1980s? Then the contradictions start, deficit reduction, public sector pay freezes – hold on, are these not the policy of the Conservatives?
Up jump the Conservatives, wheeling out five Cabinet members to dismiss Labour’s twenty billion pounds unfunded public spending commitments. It would have sounded a little bit more credible if they had been able to tell us how their own seven billion pounds of tax cuts were going to be paid for – of course they couldn’t but that is only a minor detail.
The Liberal Democrats were the last of the main parties to take to the stage to launch their election campaign. It was a lacklustre affair, with a tired Nick Clegg telling us how bad the Conservatives are. Nick, you signed off all of their economic policies and spending cuts and supported their tax cuts for the wealthy – another minor detail we don’t need to worry ourselves with. As for Labour, we were told, they won’t keep their promises, they can’t be trusted – really Nick? A bit like, “we will not raise tuition fees”, that broken promise everyone should forget.
So there you have it, it is underway. This has been a disappointing start. At a time when we really need to encourage people to vote and get engaged with our democratic process I fear we all need to brace ourselves for a daily fest of accusations, character assaults, smears, claims and counter claims that go way beyond the necessary scrutiny of an opponent. I hope I am proved wrong. It is not what the voting public want to hear, it is certainly not what I want to hear.
The two dark horses of the election campaign kept their powder dry, the Scottish Nationalist Party and the UK Independence Party know only too well that the public will only start to pay close attention to the election in April, they have too many other important things to think about until then. A smart move, start speaking when the public are listening – interesting times await us.