It's time for a political bean-feast

Box Image copyright PA
Image caption How does a General Election grab you?

Got your decorations down for Twelfth Night yet? What next, now that we are done with the festive season? How does a General Election campaign suit you?

OK, there's no need for that sort of language - just because you're back at work, the weather is gloomy and Dundee United seem congenitally incapable of winning two consecutive games (although Ne'erday was magnificent.)

But, regardless of individual leanings, it's time for a political bean-feast. Time to cede the ground to the Lords of Misrule. (Defined by politicians as their rivals, defined by voters as politicians.)

Still and all, this promises to be a fascinating, multi-faceted contest. In Scotland, the outcome could depend upon mindset.

Are folk still in post-referendum mode, searching for the option which best speaks for Scotland? Which might, potentially, benefit the SNP - as it has done at Holyrood elections.

Reflecting devolution

Or can they be persuaded to move on from the referendum, to contemplate the next occupant of Number 10 Downing Street, to focus upon the colour of the UK Government?

Which might, potentially, benefit one or more of the parties which operate on a UK basis.

It is, of course, more complicated than that. More multi-faceted still.

Examples? South of the border today, down Salford way, Ed Miliband warns, inter alia, that the NHS will not survive in its present form should there be a further five years of Conservative rule.

But, in Scotland, the Labour message is calibrated differently, reflecting devolution, the Scottish party's determination to be more distinctive - and the controversy over the NHS which featured largely during the referendum.

Nationalists say that Mr Miliband's message is eerily familiar. That it echoes warnings delivered by the "Yes" camp, roundly dismissed by their opponents at the time. Hypocrisy, they cry.

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Image caption Are folk still in post-referendum mode, or ready to move on to who will be the next prime minister

Not so, says Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader. The NHS is devolved. It is already firmly in Scotland's hands.

Further, he promises a thousand extra nurses, funded by a Mansion Tax which will overwhelmingly fall upon those residents of the south-east of England who live in the UK's most expensive homes.

Another example. Jim Murphy says that any Labour seat which falls to the SNP is a present to David Cameron as it enhances his prospects of remaining in office.

But Ruth Davidson, who leads the Scottish Tories, says supporters of the Union should be wary of a potential Westminster pact between Labour and the SNP. One which would remove Mr Cameron from office.

Targeting voters

Another example. Nicola Sturgeon, first minister and SNP leader, says that one requirement for supporting Labour would be cancellation of the plan to replace Trident nuclear weapons, sited on the Clyde.

Up pops Alistair Carmichael (Scottish Secretary, Liberal Democrat) to say that the choice (replace or not) only remains extant because the Lib Dems, in government, demanded a reconsideration.

And, further, he says that Ms Sturgeon is wrong to posit her party as the guarantors of the Smith Commission report (and perhaps more.)

His civil servants are working on a draft Bill to implement Smith - which will be available to the incoming UK Government. Action, if not this day, this month.

Mr Murphy says he plans to target a particular segment of the electorate.

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Image caption The NHS - devolved to Scotland - is set to be a key UK election issue

Those who voted Labour in 2010, didn't turn out for whatever reason in 2011 - and voted "Yes" to independence in the referendum. He reckons the total at around 190,000.

Those lucky individuals can now expect some assiduous wooing. Including personal visits.

Meanwhile, the other parties are also aware that an electorate - energised by the referendum - will expect detailed argument rather than fluff.

Local meetings. Doorstep debate. Leaflets. Personally targeted argument.

Yes, of course, there will be a huge role for social media. But, in this new political climate, there will also be a place for traditional, ingrained campaign methods.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.