What are we to make of the latest news that the Tory lead over Labour has shrunk to 2%? At a time of great distrust and anger at politics and politicians, can we trust the polls?
The expenses scandal has negatively affected the way we view politicians. It has been a national disgrace but a very local parochial scandal. Individual MP’s have had their returns scrutinised in their local press producing a very mixed picture.
There are MP’s who are ‘saints’ – never claimed a penny more than they were entitled to. Others were fools who thoughtlessly over submitted claims. Then there are those who clearly milked the system for all it is worth. And then there are the criminals who engaged in all manner of property fiddles and ‘flipping.’
Only a handful have been charged and when the details are studied it is unclear why them and not a, b, c, -- x, y and z as well.
Esther Rantzen is standing as an independent in Luton and could well win. The Speaker, John Bercow, is being opposed, in a breach of tradition, by Nigel Farrage for ukip and also by an independent tory who has leafleted the constituency detailing Bercow’s ‘flipping’ expenses. Hazel Blears will be opposed by at least 5 independents unhappy at her performance. They could cancel each other out. Throw in the ‘None of the Above’ card and it all becomes very bitty and not easy to predict.
There is a regional element too. At the last European election , New Labour came fifth in the South-East. Can the Tories regain any seats in Scotland where they have been loathed for so long? Will minority parties breakthrough in certain areas?
Many MP’s are standing down thereby depriving the electorate of the chance to boot them out. Suppose your former MP was a villain. Will that affect the way you vote? Will you still vote the same way? Or will you want to punish the party that let them get away with it? Will national issues dominate or will the local effect override national issues? Will the turnout be so low that the party that gets more of its core vote out will win?
Finally, how much chance are you going to get to talk to candidates, hear their views and more importantly let them know what you feel? This could be the most bitter, nasty and downright dirty campaign for a long, long time. The last thing many prospective politicians will want to do is risk meeting members of the public.