When the formal campaign starts politics could be very different
One of the great hopes that has kept Tory spirits alive during this difficult period when consistent poll leads seem to have eluded them is the well recorded pattern of swing-backs to the government.
We saw that markedly in the final stage of GE2010 when Labour finished with a far higher share of the vote and considerably more seats than anybody foresaw.
The spread markets at the start of polling day in 2010 crystallise the perceptions then – LAB on 222 seats 35 below what actually happened in the election.
Should we expect the same when we wake up eleven weeks on from today? Could the incumbent government have done a whole lot better than the polls are suggesting?
Almost all swing-back theorists seem to assume that most of the benefit will go to the blue team conveniently ignoring the other part of coalition – the yellows. But could that thinking be very wrong?
Until parliament is dissolved at the end of March it is very difficult for the junior coalition partner to campaign on its own and have its own separate identity. But that will change and the LDs will have guaranteed coverage.
Two features of the official short campaign could make things very different this time. Firstly it is going to be much longer than normal – more than five weeks rather than three. Secondly four parties look set to be designated officially as major players not three. UKIP, as well as the LDs are going to get guaranteed levels of broadcasting covering from March 31st to May 7th.
The fact that there are four official big players rather than the normal three looks set to dilute the impact of the big two.
A big hope for the yellow team is that after five years of being constrained by the coalition it will be pitching on its own behalf with its very specific messages.
Don’t rule out the LDs being the bigger beneficiary of swing-back.
Date for your diary. Pre Election PB gathering London planned for March 17th. It won't be at Dirty Dicks this time. Details soon