Unlike my sodium chloride ridden gastropod friend, I haven't read the Labour manifesto. To be honest I have no intention of reading any of them.
No doubt the Labour storybook promises that every day will be the first day of spring, and everyone will have a pet unicorn, freed from the unicorn traps which the eeeeeeevil tories leave lying around the enchanted woodland (enchanted by Harriet's diversity pixies) and sugar-free jelly and non-fat ice cream every day.
It probably doesn't say that to be fair, but it may as well given that by Labour's own admission nothing contained within a manifesto is to be taken as a promise or an undertaking to do anything.
Yet once again, Labour seem determined to push the self-destruct button, holding a press conference that was, to be frank, a bizarre event which would probably have had Stalin thinking 'steady on'. The attacks on Robinson and Boulton were really quite extraordinary, accusing the press of being unfair for having the temerity to question Brown's policies, and even the decision to hold a launch on NHS property, (or as near as makes no difference) is no way to endear yourself to two of the most powerful political reporters/editors in the media.
Having baying supporters on the balcony and round the press pack was a concerted attempt to intimidate the hacks, who were heckled for not standing whilst addressing the Dear Leader. It's almost amazing they didn't have a supply of rocks to rain down on the traitors from the media.
The electorate aren't stupid. They'll see this as a desperate attempt to eradicate any dissent, it is merely another example of Labour's mania to control absolutely everything they can. As far as the polls go, it doesn't really matter. When you convert Labour's advantage from bums on seats into the number of voters, the merest swing away from them will leave them out of a job. The public may not know what they want, but they know exactly what they don't want.
The media is a different matter. The print media will always be partisan. Even The Sun. The only reason they supported Blair was because it was obvious which way the wind was blowing in '97. Murdoch doesn't want to be seen supporting a loser. It wasn't The Sun wot won it, and it won't be this time.
The broadcast media are a different matter. They are, by and large, impartial in their reporting. Yes, the accusation of bias is easy to lay at the door of the BBC, and is more accurate than not in my opinion, but the Beeb are turncoats by neccessity. They'll cozy up to the Tories quick enough should they win. It doesn't pay to piss off the people holding your purse strings, another good argument against the licence fee in my book. It really doesn't pay to piss off the broadcast lot. They are quite smart and are very adept at subtly using suggestion in this most insidious of mediums, start throwing accusations of bias, question their professionalism and you really will get them angry. Not everyone is as devious and opportunistic as Labour, but if they turn against you, you can't very well stamp your little foot and complain, only the party activists will get angry, to everyone else you'll be a whining little pussy.
Only a week in to procedings and Labour have demonstrated that there is no depth to which they won't stoop to to get an advantage. First there was Lord Adonis' ridiculous article in the Indie about the futility of voting Lib Dem, the only outcome from that is likely to be the Limp Dim supporters turning out to support the blues in any seat where it is a two way race between Labour and Tory. Not very smart. Like I said, people don't know what they want, but they do know what they don't want. The people that want a Tory government are dwarved by those who do not want a Labour one. Pulling stunts like that will not help you at all.
Then there was the odious stunt of the cancer postcards sent out by Labour (superbly dealt with by Constantly Furious), effectively telling people that if the Tories were in power, they'd be dead. They even decided to send them to people who were dead. Nice. Labour blithely dismissed any accusations of an abuse of the DPA, but do they really, honestly expect us to believe that?
I'm now waiting for Labour to break a local story down here about a Tory councillor in Whitstable being remanded on child abuse and pornography charges. Don't think they won't, and don't think they won't try to make you think it is representative of the party as a whole. These are, after all, the nasty Conservatives. No dirty trick will be below them.
The collective blood pressure is sure to rise over the news that the 3 Labour MPs in court over the expenses have applied for, and been given Legal Aid. Do you mean to tell me that there were no skeletons in the cupboard over that could have been held over these three with the threat of release should they have applied? Perhaps they are just as keen to destroy the party as those who advise Brown?
We are going to have a really, nasty, negative and spiteful campaign, certainly from Labour, and the Tories and Lib Dems (to a lesser extent to give the Lib Dems their due) are more than likely to follow suit. Here in lies the eternal problem of 'voter disengagement'. The political class live in their own village. They are very important people and are used to having people jump when they shout. They really do have no concept of us outside the village, and how unattractive a negative campaign is.
The problem for Labour is that evidence thus far suggests that Labour's cynicism will regularly overstep the line and will be a litany of own goals. This has all the signs of being one of the most disastrous campaigns in history for Labour, and the Tories don't have the star quality to finish them off.