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Nick Wood’s Campaign Commentary: Clegg takes the biscuit. Vote for me to stop me boring you to death again this year


It is ending as it began. The latest polls have the two main parties deadlocked in the low thirties, much as it all began more than a month ago. Endless photocalls, thousands of miles of travelling,  hundreds of speeches and TV and radio debates, and legions of silly selfies and warmly cuddled babies have amounted to nought.

The British public remain unmoved. One third are huddled in the blue corner, another third in the red, and the final third are scattered across a string of parties ranging from the iconoclastic Ukip to the fiercely nationalistic SNP.

One is tempted to conclude that spending all this time and money on trying and failing to persuade people to change their minds is a spectacular waste of effort. Perhaps next time, we can just move to the vote.

The horse-trading has already begun. Labour has put out feelers to the Lib Dems, calculating that a “coalition” between their parties will leave Ed Miliband better placed to run a minority administration propped up by the turbulent Scots.

The Tories, meanwhile, are resorting to the tactical trick. We know you really back Ukip, the Lib Dems or even Labour, but the world will be a scary place if you don’t stop Miliband or, in South Thanet, at least, the redoubtable Mr Farage.

Not much of it seems to be working, though the spectre of the Tartan Army calling the shots is probably persuading some Ukippers to come home to Dave’s chilly embrace.

This is not particularly disreputable. Your football team may have lost the match but you can take comfort in the fact that their deadly rivals have lost too, been relegated or gone into administration. People vote against things as much as for them. And both the main parties in this campaign have sounded more energised when inviting people to vote against their opponents rather than for some grand vision of a better tomorrow.

Let’s hope that one day – before too long – our political parties (Farage excepted) will rediscover the power of ideas.

For all that, for Westminster folk, the world will look a very different place on May 8.  Old power structures will have crumbled. The people who mattered so much – in party HQ, the whips’ office, the ministers and the bag carriers who derive their authority from their proximity to power – will matter less. And others will take their place.

The final word in this grubby business should go to Nick Clegg, a man who bases his political appeal on the empty argument that you should vote for him because is not Tory and not Labour. He said today that unless the Lib Dems (likely to be reduced to a rump) are part of the next government, we would face another election before Christmas.

Now there is a thought. Could we really stand going through all this again so soon?

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Nick Wood
Nick Wood
Chief Executive of Media Intelligence Partners

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