Election 2015: Starting gun fired (finally)

Marathon runners Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A marathon run to the 7 May polling day has begun

And so it begins, with a visit to a household. The Royal Household, that is - with David Cameron being received by the Queen for the final time as the Westminster Parliament is dissolved.

Households across the UK can now expect umpteen visits from enthusiastic or desperate canvassers, eager to persuade people to back a particular party in this UK General Election.

The Greens win the award for being first to launch their manifesto, promising a £10-an-hour minimum wage, the renationalisation of the railways and the devolution of powers to communities across Scotland.

They are decidedly up for this contest, at least in terms of profile and participation, while acknowledging that the First Past the Post voting system used for Westminster may not be as helpful to their cause as the proportional version deployed for Holyrood.

Ruth Davidson, she of the Tories, wins the prize for being the first to describe this contest as a "marathon, not a sprint".

Which prompts the question. Which other Olympic events will feature in this election? Wrestling, perhaps? The luge? Handball?

Anyway, a marathon it undoubtedly is - although but a stroll compared to the endurance required for the referendum.

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Will things change in Scotland during this prolonged period? Will the current mindset, apparently focused upon the issue of who speaks for Scotland, revert to the question of who enters Downing Street?

Self-evidently, that description is over-simplistic. There are many voters whose prime consideration will already be, in effect, Cameron or Miliband. But it would appear that many others are still in post-referendum mode, to the seeming benefit of the SNP.

Nicola Sturgeon, who had spent the weekend at her party's expanded conference in Glasgow, opted to remain in the Dear Green Place for her opening campaign visit today, specifically in Glasgow East.

Once more, her argument was that a substantial SNP presence in Scotland empowers Scotland, both in terms of clout in the Commons but also in terms of devolving further power to the Scottish Parliament.

Also in Glasgow East, the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He argued that Labour's tax plans for the UK, such as a Mansion Tax, could release productive public spending to tackle social injustice in Scotland by contrast, he said, with the spending plans advanced by the SNP.

East end visit

Labour is currently defending a near 12,000 majority in Glasgow East. Yet, on Day One, big players from both Labour and the SNP are in the seat - which is being fiercely contested. Which tells you all you need to know about the nature of this remarkable UK election, in Scotland.

The Conservatives launched their campaign in Edinburgh. Ms Davidson opened with an impressive display of kick-boxing before embarking on a marathon sprint round Holyrood Park.

Na, she didn't. Wish she had, eh? But still she definitely set out to counter any impression of the Conservatives as the staid option. In Scotland, she said, they were anti-establishment. They were the team to challenge the "lazy, complacent central belt establishment", represented by the SNP and Labour.

In tandem with this, she defended the record of the Conservatives in the UK Government as having strengthened the economy and benefited the citizenry.

It was also campaign launch time for the Liberal Democrats. (I know, I know, all the campaigns launched months ago: one must observe the formalities.) Willie Rennie headed for East Dunbartonshire where his party is defending one of its eleven Scottish seats.

He also defended the UK government's economic record - although, understandably, he was more inclined to spotlight the Lib Dem contribution through, for example, increasing the starting rate for income tax.

For the future, he said the Lib Dem offer would be to ally this economic endeavour with a stronger focus upon social justice.

Stand by for more. At least 1,500 metres more, if not 26 miles plus.

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