The never-ending General Election campaign

Rejoice! There are just 121 campaigning days left until the General Election.

121 days of argument, counter-argument, counter-counter argument and, in the background, the sound of ten-million people changing channel to avoid it all.

Blame the coalition. Fixed term parliaments were introduced to try to make sure the government would survive the full five years. But it’s also fundamentally changed the election timetable.

We used to have a phoney campaign, several months before the election itself was called. Now we have “the long campaign”, starting this week, to be followed by “the short campaign”, once parliament actually breaks up at the end of March.

By then, the arguments should be pretty much set in stone.

The Conservatives will accuse Labour of planning to spend billions of pounds it hasn’t accounted for, Labour will accuse the Conservatives of planning even deeper spending cuts, the Liberal Democrats will say both are as bad as each other, and all three will nervously watch what UKIP are up to.

As the last Christmas trees are dumped on the pavement, the party leaders will jostle for position on the 10 o’clock news. They think you’re desperate to hear their big plans.

But then it might be worth a short tactical retreat, if electoral tedium isn’t to set in within weeks.

Most voters have other things to worry about right now than who they’ll support in four months’ time. After Easter, many will start to give it some thought. Before then, endless campaigning will most likely fall on deaf ears.

Not that MPs have much else to do. Another effect of the fixed-term parliament is the gradual halting of the legislative machine. There’s little left for anyone to do in the Commons -- much of the daily grind of politics is effectively on hold until after May 7th.

Election day is the only thing everyone at Westminster is thinking about. Everyone else, of course, has the rest of their lives to get on with.