‘Ed’s Secret Robo Plot’ is going to take a lot of beating as both the best and most disappointing headline of the election campaign. On first sight, one might think it refers to Ed Miliband having a secret plot to build robots (probably to carry out nefarious socialist plots that will sap the precious bodily fluids of good healthy News International customers), but instead it’s merely the news that he’d rehearsed and made some notes before the leaders’ debate. I’m expecting that by the end of the campaign, his visiting a hospital will be described as how his breathing stole vital air from patients, while a leaked memo reveals that Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t need oxygen to survive.
In the end, it’s just another Giant Death Ray.
In the campaign proper, things remained in a bit of a bank holiday slumber with most of the day appearing to be not much more than shouting back and forth, every side claiming all the others are lying while there’s is the only unalloyed truth. Meanwhile, Danny Alexander is supposedly surprised that the Tories are taking credit for someone else’s popular policy. I know Tories are a rare breed in Scotland, but surely even Danny must realise that’s the sort of thing Tories do instinctively, like breathing?
One semi-concrete piece of information we do now have is the Press Association’s list of expected declaration times for every constituency. At the moment, we appear to be starting with the Sunderland seats from around 11pm on May 7th, and finishing at the other end of England with St Ives expected at 1pm on May 8th. Presumably, the St Ives time is because of the trouble of getting ballot boxes back from the Scilly Isles, though that does raise the question of how Na h-Eileanan an Iar and Orkney & Shetland get their counts done on election night. Of course, St Ives likely won’t be the last to declare as there are always one of two constituencies requiring multiple recounts that end up going well into the day after.
Today’s plunge into the Election Leaflets website brings us our first featured independent candidate of the campaign, the splendidly named Sandy Pratt, standing in East Surrey. This will be Mr Pratt’s second Parliamentary election campaign, having finished sixth in the same constituency in 2010, and I’m sure this time he’ll be hoping to get the 0.05% swing that should take him past the Monster Raving Loonies into fifth place. However, he may want to consider his approach to fundraising, as putting your bank account details on a leaflets and asking for people to deposit funds directly seems to me to be slightly risky, and probably hard to get donor details that meet the legal requirements for election candidates and agents.
Still, he does have a full list of 25 policies on national affairs, which is more than many candidates will have, and should be congratulated for taking a risk, putting himself forward and standing for election.
Looking back five years ago, the 6th April was the day Gordon Brown went to the Palace, and the election campaign started. So yes, if you were wondering, this year’s campaign is longer than last time.