Four months of campaign spirit will drive you to drink

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman

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Brace yourself for the longest General Election campaign in living memory.

From now until May 7 expect a propaganda blizzard from across the narrow party divide, as various groups of career politicians and sundry self-interested elites sell themselves in the race for power.

Aiding and abetting them in this full spectrum hectoring will, of course, be our national press, most of them batting hard for the Tories, as is their historic predisposition.

Your Mail and Telegraph, Sun and Times will hungrily seize every opportunity to depict Cameron as a world statesman of incalculable weight, Osborne as an economic genius/latterday King Midas. Miliband as a raving revolutionist of the kind last seen pumping lead into Tsar Nicholas and his family.

The more modest – both in number and circulation – liberal press will strive to return the favour, casting Eds M and B as saviours from Dave and Gideon’s devilry (Clegg and the Lib Dems, clearly, will be in the middle getting beat up from all corners).

The reality, that they are all to a man no more than free market minded managerial careerists applying for a job, can be set aside until May 8. Men of vision, men of principle, blah blah, blah blahh.

So far so samey. Usual suspects playing their time-honoured roles, striving to hoodwink, blindside and herd the alienated electorate into their due paddock. Of some interest this time, however, will be the Daily Express and The Star.

Both traditionally Tory rags, in December owner Richard Desmond dropped £300,000 into UKIP party coffers, and it is tantalising to think these titles might throw their weight behind a Farage barrage.

Each paper is comfortably crass enough in both tone and outlook to make such a drive into one of the most simultaneously hilarious and terrifying media events imaginable.

Undoubtedly the key difference, though, will be in duration.

The ConDem’s bright off-manifesto idea of fixed term parliaments guarantee nothing by way of better governance, solely a ballooning of the public poster pestering period (kicking off last week with the curious Tory ‘road to Berlin’ effort).

Remember the then unusually long and exhausting six-week campaign of 1997?

Nothing compared to what lies ahead. Depending on where you live – South Ribble, for example, is a key battlefield seat – you should expect billboard bombardment, tannoy car traffic jams, leaflets rattling your flaps by the hundredweight, earnest doorstepping oafs in rosettes after your X at a pitch never before seen.

Trust me, by the end of March you’d happily vote for the bleeding Daleks if only that would bring the pantomime to an end.