Election campaign: What to expect

So election time is finally here. Hold onto your seats for four weeks of fever and fervour. Or, possibly, a couple of days of election excitement, followed by a few weeks where we get a bit fed up with it all, before those of us who still care go to the polls.

So election time is finally here. Hold onto your seats for four weeks of fever and fervour. Or, possibly, a couple of days of election excitement, followed by a few weeks where we get a bit fed up with it all, before those of us who still care go to the polls.

So what do we have to look forward to between now and May 6?

1. Leaflets. These started weeks ago, but be prepared to be swimming in them within the next couple of weeks. They will find their way into your home, packed with dubious proclamations like 'Only the Lib Dems or Labour or Conservatives can win here' and countless photographs of the candidates grinning at you. They may occasionally even contain actual policies, but those will probably go unnoticed as you sweep them into the recycling bin.


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2. Knocks on the door. In these days of tweeting, blogging and YouTube there's something wonderfully British about the idea that elections can still be won and lost by how good a candidate is at knocking on your door and convincing you that they are worth voting for. Or, in the current climate, how successfully they manage to cope with the accusations some of you will fling at them that none of them are worth voting for because they are 'all on the make'.

3. Hustings. Another fantastically old-fashioned method of trying to secure votes and one where local issues really come to the fore, so depth (or lack) of knowledge can become glaringly obvious.

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The candidates will turn up at all sorts of these events - in front of audiences ranging from students to pensioners - within the next month and there's always the chance a member of the public will ask a completely left-field question which they weren't expecting. It's always entertaining to see them squirm.

4. High profile visits. It was tricky to keep count of how many times Conservative leader David Cameron visited Norwich North during last year's by-election campaign. It remains to be seen whether the victorious Chloe Smith can count on that kind of support this time around. But expect to see pigs flying past your window before Gordon Brown turns up in Norwich South to give a leg up to his arch-critic Charles Clarke.

5. Focusing on local issues. It's a fine line between showing you care about what's going on in Norfolk and, for want of a better description, jumping on the bandwagon. And you can be sure some of the candidates will cross it.

Expect ongoing issues such as the closure of day centres for the elderly, the Northern Distributor Road, the eco-town at Rackheath, the incinerator in King's Lynn, the switching off of street lights and anti-social behaviour to become election battle grounds.

With the expenses scandal having tarnished the reputation of Parliament and an increasing belief that there's not much difference between the main parties candidates will be keen to distance themselves by highlighting what they have done and will do for Norfolk. They will need all the luck they can get!

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