So it’s May 6th then. Now there’s a surprise.
In exactly a month’s time, the polling booths will be open and the British people will be casting their vote for a new/old government, but, finally, today Her Madge gave her consent to Gordon Brown dissolving Parliament – which means the election campaign really, actually, finally, officially starts now (despite the fact that some candidates have been at it for months already).
And what an exciting morning it’s been for all us armchair election followers!
I’m not entirely sure what was most (least?) thrilling about this morning’s frankly mindless media coverage. Forced by Freeview to choose between Sky or the BBC, the telly ended up being muted when my brain started dripping out of my ears. I did catch Gordon Brown’s thoroughly tedious speech – although I was slightly distracted by the phrase ‘as dull as ditchwater’ bouncing round what little brain I had left by this point.
Other media lowlights included David Cameron’s unpleasantly smug speech to the rapt party faithful, complete with its mysterious (hmm) omission of the same two words (“gay” and “straight”) which were so heavily emphasised in the draft version revealed yesterday.
And then there was the BBC’s breathless commentary on the spy-in-the-sky aerial footage of Gordon Brown’s entire journey from Downing Street to St Pancras station which concluded that the PM was off to speak at a supermarket in Kent, but they couldn’t tell us which one for “security reasons”.
Indeed. Just follow the sound of helicopters…
You know that it’s just going to get worse, too. As well as the usual hand-shaking, baby-kissing, speech-making, and endless mind-melting waffle on the 24-hour news channels, this time round we’ll also have to put up with three televised debates between Brown, Cameron and Clegg over the next few weeks.
Covering domestic affairs, foreign policy and the economy, and with each one of these hustings being scrupulously distributed between ITV, Sky and the BBC (in that order), these debates, despite being a good idea in many ways, also have the potential to be car-crash telly of the highest order.
This is going to be an interesting – if worrying – election campaign, and one fought as much on the internet as on the streets. The possibility of a hung parliament genuinely looms large, which means that yes, I’m about to use that sorry old cliché about it not being a two-horse race this time (and no, I’m not going to apologise for it). Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have all got a fight on their hands in order to convince a cynical and disillusioned electorate that they’re up to the job.
By the way, has anyone actually seen Nick Clegg today, just out of interest? It looks like the BBC appears to have lost him…*
It’s going to be a long month.
*Oh, no, as of 3.40pm they seem to have found him again, albeit briefly, looking very serious and campaigning at a group of studenty types in Watford. And that’s it. Thus far, anyway.