Jeremy Paxman has oft been quoted as having the mantra "Why is this lying bastard lying to me?" to guide his interviewing technique - he denies the attribution of course. After just a few weeks of listening to the politicians bark their messages at us, I can only imagine how he must feel dealing with these lying liars day in and day out. How they manage to have debate after debate, argument after argument and yet avoid saying anything of real substance is pretty astounding.
To summarise my memory of the Leaders' debates...
Chair: Leader A, what is your party doing about issue X?
Leader A: What haven't we done about issue X! The real issue is how parties B and C have totally avoided this issue and their complete lack of transparency over issue X means the public simply cannot trust them.
Leader B: I find it completely disengenuous that Leader A would suggest that Party B had been ducking the issue. The public are not fools. They realise that Party B really has no long-term strategy for solving issue X and that we really are the only party of the future.
Chair: And Leader C? What are your thoughts on issue X?
Leader C: Well, I agree with Leader B...
and so it went ad nauseum.
Still, despite the media and much of the public baying for substance, it never really emerged. Even the most transparent of the parties (the Lib Dems) have about £30-40 billion in uncosted savings; in their deficit plans and this is by far the best of the three main parties. Furthermore, the economic policies were probably the most aspects of the party manifestos that had most meat to their bones; nevermind issues like the environment and education, which hardly got a look in. So, regardless of which parties form the next government, we really don't know exactly what we're going to get. One thing we can predict with safety though is that it is going to be tough. Very tough.
So, barring a prophecy of long-term misery can we venture any more short-term projections regarding the election outcome? What will May 7th bring?
First up, I predict that it will be close; very close. My fear is that the Tories will be very close to a n overall majority and so will end up in bed with a combination of the Ulster unionist parties (DUP and UUP). Heaven help us!
Secondly, I think that at an individual constituency level there will be many, many recounts. I suspect some may even resort to legal battles, especially given there have been noises about postal vote tampering.
Lastly, despite the Lib Dem's surge and talk of over 100 seats, I just don't see it happening. Like many commentators, I think Lib Dem support has already started to wain. So, I think we will see an increase in Lib Dem representation, but it will be more like 72-75 seats rather than the 100-105 they are dreaming about.
I hope I'm proved wrong on this last point. I believe a coalition involving the Lib Dems really does offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change this rotten system for the better. Let's hope us voters don't just go and f%$k it up!
Oh, and one last thing...GET OUT AND VOTE!!!