Journalist and author John Crace reflects on how Britain’s MPs may be preparing for the 2015 general election this January, exclusively for Think Smarter month. For a chance to win the Think Smarter reading list, sign up to the newsletter.
In recent months you may have noticed some changes in your local MP’s behaviour. He or she might have become rather more attentive to local issues. The hospital might have been getting rather more frequent visits. The notorious traffic blackspot will have been the subject of a question in parliament; even if the MP and the Transport minister were the only people in the House of Commons at 9.30 on a Thursday morning to hear it. Don’t worry. This is all perfectly normal. It just means there is a general election coming along in May.
Even though at least 70 per cent of all constituencies are likely to re-elect a candidate from the same party, there is nothing like a general election to concentrate the mind. Having spent the best part of four and a half years with their eyes fixed primarily on Westminster – and, just possibly, the advancement of their careers – politicians tend to develop a much keener interest in what’s going on back home. Or, in many cases, what’s going on back second home.
With all three of the main parties in a state of near panic and the outcome of the upcoming election still anyone’s guess, MPs are likely to become even more desperate in their efforts to win your vote. Candidates that have previously sounded quite restrained and liberal are likely to start channelling their Inner-Nige in a bid to head off UKIP. Everyone will be promising more cuts to show they are strong on the economy; though their cuts will be nicer than anyone else’s cuts. Everyone will be promising that your local hospital and schools will only be safe in their hands. Above all, though, everyone will be pledging their deep respect and veneration for the white van. Can’t wait.
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