Today sees the start of the General Election campaign “proper”. You might be forgiven for thinking it had started weeks – or even months – ago. Residents of Ipswich, a marginal seat, have been bombarded with literature by both Tories and Labour since the beginning of the year.
At a meeting of the local Labour Party, the election campaign they promised was one of positivity, hope and change. The local Conservatives also argue that they will campaign positively, arguing that Ben Gummer’s record as the town’s MP is one to be proud of.
Will we really be able to get through the next six weeks without the parties descending into negative campaigning? I don’t mean the sort of rubbish you see in the USA, but are we really going to see the two main protagonists stick to arguing their own messages and their own policies rather than denigrating the other?
Sadly I would not put money on it. As much of the message coming from either camp is about negative elements of their opponent’s message as it is positive elements of their own. David Ellesmere and Labour will want to highlight what they perceive as the failings of the Government and Ben Gummer’s complicity in those failings. Ben Gummer and the Conservatives will want to highlight what they perceive as the failings of the Borough Council and David Ellesmere’s complicity in those failings.
Rather than spending the next six weeks taking lumps out of each other over disputed statistics, who said what to whom and who broke what promise, would it not be better to spend the time explaining to the voters what each candidate would do to make things better for the residents of Ipswich?
Unfortunately a desire to prove the other side wrong is strong in any politician. I suspect that desire will overcome any positivity or hope in this campaign. The public will hate that.