Campaigning – the long and short of it!

Nick Clegg on the campaign trail from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Nick Clegg on the campaign trail from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Are you sick of it all yet? It’s all over the news and in the papers. It might even be the topic of conversation down the local. What am I talking about? The General Election of course, which is now coming to an end as the nation goes to the ballot boxes tomorrow (thankfully?!).

We’ve thus far endured the ‘long campaign’, which officially began on the 19th December and ran up until the dissolution of Parliament – 25 days before the election – which in this case was the 30th March, and we’re now firmly into the ‘short campaign’, which goes right up until the election.

For a lot of people, the campaign so far might not have bothered them. According to the Electoral Reform Society, over half of the seats being contested in the election – 368 seats containing approximately 25 million people – are deemed to be safe, that meaning they are unlikely to change parties. Here is a breakdown of how many seats each of the main parties have, and how many of their seats are safe –

– The Conservatives have 303 seats, 186 of which are deemed safe.

– Labour have 257 seats, 151 of which are deemed safe.

– The Liberal Democrats have 56 seats, 7 of which are deemed safe.

Conservative Zac Goldsmith is fighting for re-election in his safe seat of Richmond Park.

Conservative Zac Goldsmith is one of the lucky ones fighting for re-election in his safe seat of Richmond Park.

If you live in one of the marginal seats, then expect more leaflets, more canvassers, and more political presence in the area, be it via posters, or campaigners in the streets asking you for just a couple of minutes to discuss the upcoming election. If you’re really lucky, and you live in a really marginal seat that has been targeted by a party, then you can expect all of the above, but with even more money thrown at you, and even ministerial visits.

As things stand, and despite all of the campaigning, no party has managed to build a significant and consistent lead. Only the SNP appear to be making significant gains, but they’re only standing in 59 of the United Kingdom’s 650 seats.

Let’s not forget though that the polls are far from reliable. Just because they say the SNP could win all 59 Scottish seats doesn’t mean they will. It could be the case that they only keep the 6 they currently have. Likewise, it could be that despite most polls signalling a hung parliament, one party could yet win overall. A Labour majority would depend on the SNPs performance and the electorate ignoring the possibility of Ed Miliband being Prime Minister, while a Conservative majority would require them to increase their share of the vote, a feat not even Margaret Thatcher could achieve while in office.

Many Conservatives are hoping for a 1992 type election, one where they went into the election 6% behind in the polls, but came out winners. For the incumbent governing party to be this close in the polls is an achievement in itself, and so it could well be that they do come out as winners. Or maybe 2015 might be the new 1974. Not that there will be two elections (although let’s not rule anything out, these are unpredictable times after all), but rather Harold Wilson increasing Labours vote share in the October election, having formed a minority government by being the largest party in the hung parliament following the February election.

With so much at state, expect more vigorous campaigning. Expect Labour to say they are the only party who can form a strong government, while expect the Conservatives to continue the vote Labour, get SNP rhetoric.

While UKIP appear to be faltering, they are still attracting votes. Significantly, they are taking just as many – if not more – votes from Labour as they are the Conservatives, although you could argue that the votes they are costing Labour are more significant as they are allowing the Conservatives a chance in the more marginal northern seats.

On the bright side, it’ll all be over after May 7th, and normality will be restored until the next election. However soon that may be…

By Daniel Dean, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.


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