I'm a politician who loves election days - the campaigning stops and the voter makes their choice at the ballot box, but on the 17th September I swapped my rosette for a high vis jacket with 'observer' on the back. My job was not to persuade people who to vote for, but watch the election process as Fiji went to the polls for the first time since the 2006 coup.
It is bandied about by the press that the 2015 general election will be competitive. Naturally, sustaining such a narrative sells papers. However, when observing the statistics with an impassive and unpartisan mindset, one realises that not only is the general election Labour's to lose; it is almost inconceivable that the party could lose it.
Every election campaign targets particular types of voters and some come to be defined by swing groups: Mondeo Man, Worcester Woman, Soccer Moms. Indeed, the political lexicon is awash with such groups "hard-working families", "the squeezed middle, "strivers" and "alarm-clock Britain" amongst others. As we hit the 18 month mark to the 2015 General Election there is, naturally, increasing interest in this electoral battleground...
Once again, Sky News has taken the lead. It spearheaded the broadcasters successful campaign to secure leader's debates in the 2010 general election. Now John Ryley, head of Sky News, has proposed a formula for debates in 2015. His main proposal is that Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, should be excluded. Voters think differently....
Why is all this "play the man not the ball" stuff rolling out from Tory HQ and their friends in the press? It's to divert us from the really big political story: that the Tory Party is in deep trouble. Their famed grassroots operation is shrivelling up. The foot soldiers are defecting to Ukip in their droves.
It would be easy to imagine that political party members would by definition be supporters of the party leadership, the most devoted and enthusiastic of anyone in the country. This is not necessarily the case, especially since winning elections normally requires a party leader to reach out beyond his or her party's natural support... Sometimes the relationship between party leaders and their party membership can be a fractious one.
The country has changed hugely, trust in institutions has fallen, a job for life is an idea of the past while the future looks deeply uncertain. It is no wonder that many people feel anxious and insecure. Addressing those insecurities does not mean abandoning pro-immigration principles or pandering to anyone - it means having the humility to accept that many others see things differently, seeking to understand why they do and trying to change their minds.