Parties pushing for final effort in 2019 General Election, but is it really crucial?
- Credit: RACHEL EDGE
We are now just two weeks away from the 2019 General Election – it really is the business end of the campaign when people really are going to have to make up their minds how to vote.
I've spent the last few weeks telling people how difficult it is to know what is going to happen and how there was still time for a number of twists and turns - but those kind of comments are starting to wear thin.
After the publication of the parties' manifestos we're beginning to get a feel of what might be about to happen. And I'm starting to think the eventual result might be, to many voters, a bit of an anti-climax.
To start with let's debunk a few myths:
We've heard, from all sides, that "This is the most important general election in generations."
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Why? You hear that in every general election. When was the last time you heard a politician say: "Look, I'd like you to vote but the result of this election won't really affect you too much?"
The "Most Important" line is a fabrication and should be totally ignored by voters.
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This is a re-run of the 2017 General Election when the Conservatives started way ahead and were almost caught by Labour on polling day.
Much as Labour would like that to be true, and have built an election strategy on the fact that that might be true, I really don't see it like that.
From where I'm sitting that is a total misunderstanding of what happened in 2017 - and in following that year's playbook they're in danger of doing themselves great harm.
In 2017 The Tories fought the most inept election campaign I have ever seen (and given the debacles of 1997 and 2001 that's saying something!).
Yet they still won more seats than anyone else and were able to form a government at the end of the process - albeit with the support of Democratic Unyielding Party from Northern Ireland.
Labour might have surprised themselves (and the rest of the country) in 2017, but they didn't win. They took 55 seats fewer than the Tories.
Yes they had a radical manifesto which enthused some of their keen supporters - and that is what they're trying again this time. It is a classic "One more heave" strategy.
But "One more heave" strategies usually fail. It failed for Labour in 1992 and it failed for the Tories in 2005. Parties win by listening to the electorate (not just their most enthusiastic supporters) and I don't detect a strong overall level of support for its manifesto.
Also while the Tories' campaign has been one of the most boring I can ever remember with Boris Johnson et al parrotting "Get Brexit Done" all the time, it has not been the total disaster we saw two years ago.
Their manifesto was as dull as ditchwater - but that was exactly what was needed from a party with a double-digit lead in the polls.
To use a footballing analogy about the election manifesto launches, the Tories found themselves 3-0 up at half-time in the campaign so Labour put on a pair of maverick strikers promising voters billions of pounds of goodies while the Conservatives put on a couple of gritty centre backs to close the game down!
In Ipswich the campaigning is more frenetic than it was two years ago. Labour has a seat to defend and Sandy Martin is attracting supporters from a wide area determined to keep the speck of red alive on the electoral map of East Anglia.
Meanwhile the Conservatives also have a spring in their step and feel there is a real chance of regaining the seat lost in 2017.
It is still too tight to call, but I suspect that Brexit still remains a defining issue for many voters - and I've always said that the Tories' best real hope of taking the seat back is to keep Brexit at the top of the political agenda.
Outside the Ipswich constituency you'd be hard pushed to know there was an election on from the level of political campaigning apparently going on.
I've heard people from across Suffolk saying they've had no contact from their candidates. Others have had only a single election leaflet from a delivery company.
But for those voters who do have a say in who forms our next government the next two weeks will be crucial, and there is still time for a dramatic change. But I'm not convinced that the election of 2019 will be as transformative for Britain as 1945, 1979, or 1997 were!