Battles are go as parties gear up for long election campaign

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The pre-election skirmishes between our political leaders are already in full swing, even though polling day’s nearly two years away. In short, this promises – or threatens – to be the longest, dirtiest and most brutal general election campaign for many years.

Both main parties have already started to unfold (ridiculously early, some would say) some of the principal policies on which they plan to fight for votes.

And all the leaders believe that another hung parliament is a possibility, with the likelihood of yet another coalition government. Indeed; David Cameron’s already in talks with Clegg about a new coalition, while Clegg (desperate, it would appear, to remain deputy prime minister to whoever’s at Number Ten) has bizarrely said that the Liberal Democrats would be happy to support whichever of the other two parties gets the more seats without achieving overall victory.

Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, has already said that her party would not wish to touch the Liberal Democrats with a barge pole. However, she may be forced to eat those words if a certain set of circumstances arises.

Neither Ed Miliband nor Cameron seem to have a firm grip on their parties. Cameron made a complete Horlicks of the Syria vote in the Commons, while Miliband gives the impression of kow-towing to the trade unions at the expense of parliamentarians.

Cameron needs to tighten his grip and authority on the Conservative Party at their conference in Manchester this week, or face growing dissent from his rank and file.

As Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said last week, we don’t want to wake up one morning and find Ant and Dec running the country.

l The prospects of a merger, or even a temporary electoral pact, between the Conservative Party and the UK Independence Party (Ukip) now seems so remote as to be virtually non-existent. And that, certainly to an outsider, seems to be a bizarre situation.

An alarming number of Conservative supporters have already deserted to Ukip and there are many, many more who, although they remain loyal to David Cameron, feel that Nigel Farage’s party is far more Tory than the Conservative Party itself.

Some would even go so far as to question whether David Cameron is even a true Tory at all. They say that a Conservative Party should not be spending time – and money – legalising same-sex marriages, for instance.

Tory MP Bill Cash, an arch and veteran Eurosceptic, would like to see a situation where other Conservative MPs of a like mind to his do not oppose Ukip candidates at the next general election.

I must say, that seems simple common sense to me. Wherever this happens they are in danger of splitting the right-wing vote to an extent where they allow their political enemies to win.

But Cameron’s reference to “fruitcakes” in Ukip and Godfrey Boom’s recent “sluts” outburst (for which he has been thrown out of Ukip), seem to have kiboshed any sensible attempt at a rapprochement between the two groups.

Ukip was set up because the other main parties were big on talk but short on action in regard to Britain’s relationship with the European Union. A great number of British people want a comprehensive reform of that relationship, and plenty would like to pull out altogether.

But the main parties are either scared stiff of their Euro “masters” or cannot see beyond their noses.

The very object of a political party is to win power. And to do that, they have to win votes. That, to me, seems so blindingly obvious it is barely worth saying.

Yet, our political leaders appear to dwell in some kind of mythical land where obvious solutions to problems never seem to occur to them.