Is anything happening in this year’s election campaigns?

Labour MP Caroline Flint and Labour candidate David Ellesmere head out door knocking around the Prin

Labour MP Caroline Flint and Labour candidate David Ellesmere head out door knocking around the Prince of Wales Drive area of Ipswich - but has the campaign changed many minds?

Like most other political geeks, I’ve been trying to work out what is happening during the campaign over the last week or so – and I have to say that so far it’s not a lot.

Labour has certainly had a good week by focussing on issues of fairness that play well with ordinary voters – issues like non-doms and coming down hard on tax avoiders and evaders.

And the Conservatives have ended up looking less than impressive with a cack-handed personal attack on Ed Miliband from Michael Fallon which completely diverted attention away from the important debate on defence and its showpiece policy of abolishing inheritance tax on property valued at less than £1 million – which gave the impression that it was only interested in the super-rich or those living in expensive parts of the south east.

They redeemed themselves with the rail fare pledge – but in truth that is only really a policy of interest to commuters and they don’t make up a huge proportion of voters outside the south east.

Having said that, no one has landed a knock-out blow and the general election is still three weeks away. That is plenty of time for a truckload of gaffes to turn up!

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Labour’s manifesto was clever – putting the economy on the front page was the only way to address what is the party’s biggest weakness.

But how many voters, how many floating voters in particular, bother to read party manifestos?

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Our survey showed that one in four voters in the region were still undecided on how to vote in the general election. Frankly that is really only of interest in Ipswich, Waveney and Clacton in Suffolk and north Essex.

The other seats already appear sewn up by the Tories, or in Colchester by Sir Bob Russell for the LibDems.

It is sometimes difficult to work out how much national events influence people in individual marginal constituencies.

As someone concentrating hard on the battle for Ipswich it is tempting to see it as a Ben Gummer/David Ellesmere contest when in effect it is a Conservative/Labour contest.

The candidates may meet a significant proportion of the voters on the doorstep – but they are unlikely to spend more than a few seconds with each voter personally, while those voters will be subjected to hours of national politicians in newspapers, on television, on radio, or online.

So does the personal campaign, the posters that are springing up across Ipswich, the teams rushing from one street to another, the enthusiasm of the volunteers really have any affect?

Yes, in the sense that if one side was not about their absence would be noticed. But will it change minds? I was once told personal votes in Ipswich are worth 300 votes. That could be crucial in May – but don’t bet on it!

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