Monday 5 April 2010

Finally - the General Election is on!

At last we have the date for the General Election! 6th May as everyone predicted. It feels as if the election campaign has been running for last 18 months, so it's good to know the end is in sight!

Even though I'm really interested in politics, I'm now tired of all debate and arguments that seem to have been going on for ever, (ok we still have another 4 weeks or so of it) but at least there's now an election in which we can all make our feelings known at the ballot box.

Gordon Brown calls the election

On a personal note this will be a really interesting election for me. I have my first bit of freelance journalism work. I'll be working for as a 'citizen journalist' covering the election campaign in my local constituency of West Ham, East London. It means I'm going to have to get out into my local community, find out what the big issues are on a local level. All pretty exciting stuff!

Everyday you've got various opinion polls. Some claim the Tories will win a working majority, next day one says there's going to be a hung parliament, the day after that Labour are going to cling onto power. You never know what to believe.

I think it's going to be like this right up until polling day, with nobody being able to predict with 100% certainty what the final outcome will be.

Clearly with this election, Labour are presenting themselves as the party that people should stick with, despite the terrible state of the economy, their argument is that the recovery will be better under their leadership.

The great advantage the Tories have is that they can present themselves as the party of 'change' something Cameron was emphasising today.

He's obviously taken inspiration from Obama's victory campaign in the US elections of 2008, but when any party has been in power for 13 years there is a natural tendency for people to get tired of the same old faces and policies. I'm sure for many people there's the feeling of 'time to give the other lot a chance'.

Cameron states the case for the Conservatives

Personally, I don't see this election as one where the electorate are making a choice on two totally different paths on how the country will be run over the next 5 years.

This isn't a 'crossroads moment' in British politics. It's more like we're entering into a period of the unknown. This is especially true if there's a hung parliament. If there is one the Lib Dems will occupy a position they must have dreamt about for decades.

There are times when politics is about gut feeling and instinct. This election doesn't feel like 1997 when you could see that New Labour were offering something very different to what had gone on before. I get the impression that 1979 may have been similar, but I was only 3 years old at the time so I can't remember!

This election reminds me more of 1992. Everyone thought Labour would win that election, but the Tories surprised everyone. I still think the Tories will win next month, but you can't discount Labour despite all their problems. It's just too close to call.

I shall leave it at that for now. I'll have many more comments to make over the next month.

Dates for your diary

April 12th: Parliament expected to be dissolved.

April 15th: The first leaders' TV debate, on domestic affairs, will be shown on ITV.

April 22nd: The second leaders' TV debate, on foreign affairs, will be shown on Sky.

April 29th: The final leaders' TV debate, on the economy, will be shown on the BBC.

May 6th: The General Election

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