We’re almost halfway through the campaign – there’s no official midway day, with the same number of days gone as to come, but today we’re in the 19th day of it with 20 more to come, and tomorrow it’ll be the 20th day with nineteen more to come. If you’re still up at midnight tonight, that’ll be the moment we finally go over the top of the campaigning hill and start heading towards the bottom.
We’re also approaching the point when votes will start to be cast. From what I can tell, nowhere seems to have sent their postal votes out yet, which isn’t too suprising as they could only start printing them last week, but they should be heading out soon with people voting early next week, just around the same time as the deadline for registering to vote. Apparently, that’s also when the SNP will be launching their manifesto, and if this trend for late release of manifestos continues into the next election, someone will end up doing it on polling day. Indeed, if I was running the Monster Raving Loonies, I’d have a big event to announce we’d be launching it the day after polling day, to ensure that we only put policies in there that had proven popular at the ballot box.
After all the excitement of last night, I haven’t been paying too much attention to the campaign as I’ve been doing Masters dissertation reading of much of Peter Mair‘s work. Mair, who sadly died in 2011, was a political scientist who was very interested in the comparative study of party systems in Europe, and it would have been fascinating to know what he would have made of this election, as it looks like it’ll be a very interesting example of party system change. If you can get hold of a copy of The Oxford Handbook of British Politics, his essay on the British party system is very good and On Parties, Party Systems and Democracy is a good collection of some of his work.
But I think today is a bit of a cagey day for everyone, as we’re yet again waiting to see if the debate has shifted the polls at all, or if the story of this election will continue to be fluctuations within the margin of error. We likely won’t see the full picture of any debate effect until Monday, but this weekend’s polls could decide the tone of the coverage for the rest of the campaign. Then again, it’s the weekend after a debate when Miliband and Sturgeon did well, so it could just as easily be dominated by whatever nonsense scandals the tabloids decide to fill their front pages with.
While we wait to find out what we think, let’s take a look at another of the parties contesting this election that you might not have heard much about. Next on the list, standing 32 candidates in total, is the new Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol party. It’s an interesting campaign because it seems to be reversing the general trend for single issue campaigners, which is to build up to running in the General Election and then disappear from view after. From their website, they appear to be using the election as a launchpad for a wider campaign, and they certainly seem to have the funding for it, with their main backer being Paul Birch, who was one of the founders of Bebo. They’re standing four candidates in Northern Ireland, which is enough to get them a party election broadcast there, and also an interview with Slugger O’Toole.
I suspect the end result of this election for them will be 32 lost deposits, but it will be interesting to see where their campaign goes from here. There’s strong evidence internationally that decriminalization and/or legalization of cannabis is a better policy than the current criminalization, but the question is how that debate can jump into the mainstream here, as it has in other countries.
My favourite discovery on Election Leaflets today is this one, but sadly it doesn’t mean that Labour are standing an actual badger as a candidate anywhere, just that David Drew really wants to protect them. Now, if one of the other candidates in Stroud could put out a leaflet with a baboon on it, we might be able to put Popbitch’s question to an electoral test…