An election like no other...?

Alastair Stewart

Former ITV News presenter

The commentators gather as the race begins

It was, in some ways, a unique election launch.

The Prime Minister requested the prorogation of Parliament of Her Majesty, but he didn't have to. The five year Parliament Act, and that quaint notion of automaticity, took care of that. But he is a courteous man.

A fox ran down Downing Street in pursuit of a duck.

The first, symbolically rare for not having been 'shot', as the metaphor for stolen or out-flanked policies goes; the second, for not yet having been 'cooked' - like all the parties who are clearly still in the race.

Abingdon Green was curiously quiet.

A quiet Abingdon Green. Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

In the two hours I was there, I saw but handful of former MPs, now candidates, offering their wares to us broadcasters.

Rushanara Ali and Mary Macleod. Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

The splendid Rushanara Ali who, for Labour took back a seat their defector George Galloway had snatched, was on genuinely on good terms with Tory Mary Macleod.

Chris Leslie Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

Chris Leslie, Labour's youngish shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, had 'borrowing, balance and belligerence' to deal with. He does it well.

Jack Dromey Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

Jack Dromey, who used to be number two at the Unite Union and is 'Mr Harriet Harman', wore a country-set trench coat.

Mark Reckless Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

Mark Reckless, who used to be a Tory MP and, more recently, used to be a Ukip MP, was locked into his iPhone, keeping himself out of the inclement weather. That will not last.

Ben Page Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

In addition to this smattering of former MPs and now candidates, was Ben Page: psephologist, numerologist and damn fine commentator, telling all who would listen how 'close and crucial' it would be.

Close elections are hard to call.

In 1945, national-hero status, confirmed with victory in the Second World War, should have made Winston Churchill a 'slam-dunk'. He lost to Clem Attlee and his socialist reformers.

In 1983, Mrs Thatcher could have thrown away her 1979 triumph, after severe fiscal rectitude. The Falklands, to a degree, saved her skin.

Many predicted, in 1992, Neil Kinnock would put John Major, who assumed the premiership on Mrs Thatcher's 'regina-cide', in his place; but the 'many' underestimated the working class Tory that Major was; and Mr Kinnock, of course, went to Sheffield.

Mr Blair's trio of triumphs might have been more testy had the Tory party not have been enduring a decade of rediscovery.

The last election should have been a victory for David Cameron: he was up against Gordon Brown and the stench of 'time-for-a-change' was almost acrid.

But something had changed.

'Slam-dunkery' had gone out of fashion; the TV debates had happened; fear of the financial collapse was chilling; and 'Dave' both confused traditionalist Tories and failed to convince moderate floaters.

So a coalition.

What was normal about today was 'the games afoot' element of electioneering.

The rest is different.

Scotland, post the independence referendum, is different. No 'wee, timorous beastie' cowering, the SNP could be double-digit power-brokers.

The Lib Dems, the moderate glue to a moderately successful coalition, are different; they are also fearful they will be punished, not applauded for, as they claim, keeping the UK stable and fiscally afloat.

The Northern Ireland parties, who months ago nearly saw the province go broke, smell money for votes.

The Greens flirt with the old Labour mantras of Labour, prior to Mr Blair's abolition of Clause Four.

The 'to and fro' era of Conservative/Labour hegemony may be over.

The apparent pipe-dream arrogance of mould-breaking minor parties may prove to be a suit the voters enjoy playing or, at least, contemplating.

I look forward to trying to make sense of what you've done on the morning of May 8th. Credit: ITV News/ Alastair Stewart

The welfare state, the national finances, the defence of the realm and the NHS are in play.

Enjoy, dear voters - it is over to you on May 7th.

I look forward to trying to make sense of what you've done on the morning of May 8th.

And, possibly, thereafter for while.