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The measured and choreographed campaigns have left us pretty bereft of drama these past four weeks

Nick Wood square Nick Wood's daily High Noon column

So what have been the highlights of this four-week election campaign? Perhaps I have witnessed too many such contests, but for me the magic moments have been few and far between.

Yes, it has been exciting in the sense that the result remains in doubt until the very end. And, yes, the TV debates have injected a wholly new dimension into the battle for power, producing the only really turbo-charged moment - the Clegg surge that put about 8 points on the Lib Dem poll rating.

Despite Gordon's best efforts, gaffes have been a rarity. Of course, "bigotgate" was a spectacular and one likely to haunt Labour all the way to the ballot box because it amounted to an insult to Brown's core vote.

But Clegg and Cameron have hardly put a foot wrong, moving smoothly from photo-call to speech to interview to photo-call again.

Dramas from elections past - like the way Michael Foot was nearly sacked as Leader half way through the 1983 campaign, like Kinnock and Hattersley endlessly contradicting each other over Labour's tax plans in 1987, like Kinnock"s "take to the hills" defence policy against a potential Soviet invasion, like the tax bombshell, like Maggie Thatcher's "I want the doctor I want, on the day I want" rant in 1987, like John Major unleashing the soap box in 1992, like Neil Hamilton and Martin Bell slugging it out on Knutsford Heath in 1997, like the Prescott punch of 2001 - seem more vivid than the more measured and choreographed procession of 2010.

Perhaps the debates were the problem, compressing the power struggle into three 90-minute made for TV episodes. And even then, no debate attracted more than 10 million viewers, less than a quarter of the electorate.

Potentially big issues, such as curbing the deficit and immigration policy, have failed to dominate the campaign in the way many expected. And although TV dominated through the debates, the big setpiece televised interview with a Brown, Cameron or Clegg became a thing of the past.

Personality mattered more than policy in a way I have not seen before, perhaps understandably with all three parties clustered around the centre ground.

On April 7, the YouGov poll for the Sun gave the Conservatives 37 per cent, Labour 32 per cent, the Lib Dems 19 per cent, and Others 12 per cent. Today the same poll scores it Conservatives 35 (down 2 from a month ago), Labour 30 (down 2), the Lib Dems 24 (up 5) and Others 11 (down 1). So, according to the pollsters, besides a Liberal bubble now apparently subsiding a little, not much has changed in a month despite the armies of spin doctors, policy wonks and image makers deployed on all sides.

It has not been a vintage campaign. But, for Tories at least, it could prove a vintage result.

Nick Wood, Managing Director, Media Intelligence Partners


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