The old saying goes that a week is a long time in politics which, if true, means the next six months will be nothing short of an eternity.
The countdown to next year’s General Election has been under way for quite some time – the cynics among us might suggest it has been all systems go since the Coalition Government was created in the meeting rooms of Whitehall days after the inconclusive result of the last election in May 2010.
But now, while we are not quite on the home straight, the runners in this marathon are lining themselves up for a frenetic finish, and don’t we know about it. For the first time we know precisely when we will go to the polls – May 7 – thanks to an agreement for a fixed-term Parliament when this Government was formed.
We were told that a guaranteed five-year term would ensure the Coalition would do its job, ensuring it was unhindered by unhelpful constant speculation about snap elections. Stability was the key word.
But the only winners are the party strategists who have been able to play a long game more than they ever have done in the past, and what we are left with is the longest election campaign in modern history.
Some would argue that politicians today are behaving no differently to their predecessors, although we now have to endure months of full-on campaigning by dead-eyed careerists with one goal – five more years of power. In the past few weeks we have had the borefest about the “unexpected” £1.7bn bill from the EU, the Prime Minister’s attempt to out-Farage Nigel Farage, who must be in the running to be crowned Europe’s most tedious man.
There is no escape from the campaign, even in the virtual world of social media where #CameronMustGo is taking Twitter by storm, even though it seems that it is a hashtag used largely by those on the Left. Dave should only worry if and when Maureen and Kenneth from Tunbridge Wells start retweeting it.
Elections are usually something which float my boat but I am already looking for the liferaft. If election junkies like me are bored by all the politi-prattle, then I do worry about the size of the turnout come May.
The case for a long run-in to a polling day was made in Scotland, where September’s referendum empowered large parts of the electorate but the prize was different – hundreds of years of history were at stake. As was national identity.
Up for the grabs in the UK-wide poll are a thousand broken promises, although some will be excited by the prospect of a referendum on whether or not we stay in Europe.
Personally it leaves me cold. For the sake of democracy, let’s hope I am on my own, although I doubt it.