Election to be Declared?

BBC Election BusFor people outside the UK, we have a bizarre system where the UK election date is at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. They have up to five years in power before an election must be called, though they tend to call an election after four years. This is partially because they're expected to, if they waited five years they would have a year of campaigning from the opposition who expected four years. It's partially to give themselves flexibility and choice (who knows what set of circumstances may play against them if they don't get to choose).

As there are local elections in May, Tony Blair is expected to put the general election on the same date, after all, people can't be expected to take 20 minutes out of their day twice, can they?

Given the expected date in May, Parliament must be dissolved by Monday. Blair was expected to announce the election yesterday, but did not 'due to the death of the Pope'. Therefore he is expected to announce today. Given that the Pope's funeral is Friday, it'd be 'unseemly' for the real campaign to start before then, and as the royal wedding is postponed until saturday the phoney campaign will probably continue until Monday 11th. Fun.

Once the election is declared, several rules come into play for political blogs.

  1. That coverage of an individual constituency race must be broadly balanced over an aggregate period of time.
  2. That any expenditure *at all* on the part of any person, whether involved in a candidacy or not, must be declared as an election expense by one of the candidates - if that expenditure has the intended effect of persuading the outcome of a constituency race.
  3. That the old requirement -- that you should, when referring to a story in a particular parliamentary consitituency, list all the other candidates not mentioned in the main piece -- has been relaxed. But how that's likely to be interpreted when there's no incremental cost at all of complying with the older regulation remains to be seen.
  4. That while parliament is dissolved you may not refer to yourself as a Member of Parliament.

For candidate blogs, this is pretty clear: if you've got 'mp' in your URL, you have to shut it down during the campaign.

'Broadly Balanced', I assume means that one fairly presents the views of the various parties.

I don't know quite how I'll be handling things, especially given that this is primarily a personal blog - and one of the things that interests me is politics. I'll just have to do my best. I wonder how soon a full list of candidates is available, and where one obtains them from?

As far as costs for this site, the domain has is paid up for the next decade or so, and the costs of the site are a fixed monthly sub which is paid automagically whether an election is called or not.