Thursday, April 08, 2010

Fighting the Election

There is a sharp difference between fighting the election as a candidate- as I did last time- and merely campaigning, or even observing. The process of being a candidate is all absorbing- and requires considerable concentration. The process of campaigning is a much less demanding role- though it too can be exhausting, as long hours and often repetitive jobs, like envelope stuffing, take their toll.

I wonder, though, whether as a candidate I might not have noticed the extraordinary turn that the 2010 election seems to be taking. The battle remains tight. The result of this election remains genuinely unclear.

From the perspective of the Liberal Democrats, however, this election is already shaping up to be one of the best results that I have ever known. Reports from across the country suggest that the party is gaining ground in seats that it is challenging in, and holding off the competition in seats where it is being challenged. The party has gained some momentum in the latest polls: and the outlook is good for a result which will be higher than that of 2005.

The expenses scandal has highlighted the Liberal Democrat case for wholesale constitutional reform. This is going down well on the doorsteps- with the clear recognition that the Lib Dems record on expenses is dramatically better than either Labour or the Conservatives. Even more powerfully there is the recognition that Vince Cable has called the economy right from the very start of the economic crisis- and that George Osborne has not. I have had several comments that suggest that the voters actively want a hung Parliament- with the comment in a pub- I paraphrase- "with that Nick Clegg and his thirty women, it might even be a "well-hung" Parliament".

The start of the campaign has got off to the predictable cat fight of Labour and the Conservatives, but somehow their heart doesn't seem to be in it: the action seems to be elsewhere. There is growing understanding that the result depends on how well the Liberal Democrats do, and where they do it. All the signs are good, so far, that the party is attracting positive support and good momentum.

Back to the grind of the campaign.

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