Speaking on Today on Friday James Naughtie interviewed a panel of Northampton North voters about their voting intentions.Amongst the panel was our own dear Bianca Todd who somewhat dangerously introduced the idea of politics to the discussion with the assertion that she would support a candidate from Left Unity-if one was standing.
Northampton North,since the old single Northampton seat was split into two has always been an important bell weather seat.Since 1974 it has been held by Maureen Colqhoun (labour) Tony Marlow(Tory) Sally Keeble(Labour) and Michael Ellis (Tory).
Significantly back in 1974 the sitting Labour member of 25 years,Reg Paget had intended to fight the Northampton South seat,but he pulled out late in the day and the seat went Tory. It remained Tory till Tony Clarke snatched it against the odds for Labour in 1997,but in 2005 it reverted to the Tories when Brian Binley recaptured it.
Northampton North will be one of those seats that will determine the government in 2015 Naughtie described it as a three way marginal, and five years ago that might have been true-indeed the Lib-Dem candidate then,Andrew Simpson described it as a 'two horse race' and then memorably came third in that two horse race.
I think its safe to say that in 2015 his party's candidate will be pushed even to come third.Simpson has decided bravely not to stand again leaving the field open for a new Lib-Dem lamb to the slaughter.
Two things can be certain about the election, it will certainly be a dirty campaign,but that is taken these days as a given,just pick up any copy of the 'Daily Mail' to get a flavour of the sort of campaign it will be,but more significantly it will be the most expensive election ever fought in Northampton.
The Tories need to win the seat and so we can be sure that they will spend lavishly, and indeed its almost certain that the spending has been going on for months.
Michael Ellis is a colourless party hack, a loyal Cameroon who will never step out of line,his brown tonguing of the royals is evidence of his beige politics.
At least in Northampton South the retiring Tory Brian Binley has some colour about him, one more parliamentarian in the line of great Northampton eccentrics, from Bradlaugh through L'Estrance Malone ,Margaret Bonfield,Reggie Paget,Tony 'Von' Marlow, Maureen Colqhoun to our own Tony Clarke-a ferocious Northampton termagant!
They brought life to an otherwise dull political scene,for good or ill,Ellis is simply dull, a living example of Northamptonshire author 'BB's 'Little Grey Men'.
The Labour candidate,Sally Keeble was famed as a 'Blair Babe' and little else She is the mirror image of Ellis,a personality lite cypher,and given her rather dubious history during the expenses debacle it seems odd that the Labour Party should pick a re-tread when before selection they were boasting that they had a host of fine new young talent.
Perhaps the young talent were all off at kindergarten on the day of selection.
Labour like the Tories will be spending hard,whilst the Tories will be using wealthy backers will deep pockets,Labour will be relying on the Unions, or more specifically the CWU.
It is delightful to see my young former friend Lee Barron has been reinstated into the party as Chairman, despite his suspension some months ago for 'bringing the party into disrepute' over the rather casual affair of the PCC candidature.But then the Party always was forgiving of errant members,especially when they were regional union secretaries and brought a dowry with them.
Note for Lee-if you read this lad, its not your body or your brain the Party are after-it's your Union chequebook!
So what's likely to happen?
Almost certainly the machines are cranked up and working hard,both parties have few bodies on the street,just look at Labour's Facebook page and you'll see canvassing photos months old, so old in fact that prominent in the pack are such stalwarts as Ify Choudary(Conservative) and 'Red' Bev Mennell(UKIP)
Labour will be busy hitting the phone banks, or at least will Union money the party machine in the North East will be hitting the phones!
Voters in Northampton North can expect endless calls from smooth voiced sirens with Newcastle accents trying to seduce and retain them in the Sally camp.
There is only one surprise factor in this fandango, and that is UKIP. They have said that they will fight the seat.Now all the received wisdom is that it will damage the Tories but I think it depends on who is their candidate and which wards they focus on.
During the PCC election(well hardly!) I talked the the UKIP candidate, the late Jim MacArthur, a thoroughly decent man despite his fruitcake politics(had he stood as an independent instead of UKIP he might have won-his experience was extensive) and he took the view that there was considerable support for UKIP in the Eastern District,Kings Heath and Spencer.
Now if UKIP pick a local candidate with a common touch, say 'Red' Bev for example,she might take enough Labour votes who would prefer a rough hewed a-political candidate than the smooth re-tread!
It would be good to see smaller parties like the Greens take on the behemoths ,even Left Unity, but I fear that this is going to be an election not about ideology,values or even local identity, it's going to be one about money.
It will be the election decided by the bank accounts of thetwo parties that need to win,and the interests of the people will come a poor third, or fourth or fifth in this two horse race to the bottom.