Bernard Ginns: Get ready for the vote-hungry politicians on the hard-hat tour

ATTENTION all successful businesses based in Yorkshire’s key marginal constituencies – you will probably receive a visit from a politician in the lead-up to the general election.

Politicians love to be associated with thrusting and thriving companies, even better if they are photographed wearing high-visibility vests and hard hats.

They hope that voters will see them as dynamic enablers of economic growth, donning steel-toed wellingtons to heroically navigate a building site or factory floor in the North of England as they listen intently with furrowed brows to the hopes, aspirations and strategic business plans of whichever managing director happens to be giving them the tour.

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Their aim is simple: to persuade you, dear reader, that they are the only ones that can be trusted with the future of our great nation.

The Conservative Party chose Yorkshire to kick off its general election campaign on Friday with Prime Minister David Cameron unveiling the poster bearing the Orwellian legend “Let’s Stay on the Road to a Stronger Economy”.

Speaking at Dean Clough in Halifax, he said the country had been on a journey from the “brink of bankruptcy to being one of the strongest and fastest growing economies anywhere in the western world”.

Unfortunately, he did not add that this recovery is largely based on unsustainable consumer spending fuelled by house price rises, mainly in the South East, rather than on any meaningful rebalancing towards manufacturing and exports, but that would hardly qualify as a vote winner.

Dean Clough is located in a constituency currently held by Labour with a narrow majority, one of a string of marginal seats that will be tussled over in Yorkshire over the coming weeks and months.

The Tories are targeting Morley and Outwood, the constituency held by Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in a nuisance campaign, Leeds North East, Batley and Spen and the aforementioned Halifax.

Labour, meanwhile, is targeting Bradford East, Dewsbury, Pudsey, Colne Valley, Calder Valley, Keighley, Elmet and Rothwell, Brigg and Goole, Leeds North West and, to the fringes, Cleethorpes and Redcar.

Other constituencies of note include Doncaster North, whose sitting MP is one Ed Miliband, leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Sheffield Hallam, the home of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Bradford West, where the incumbent is firebrand George Galloway.

We will be keeping a watchful eye too on Rotherham, Rother Valley, Wentworth and Dearne and Great Grimsby where Ukip may or may not challenge the mainstream parties.

As a journalist at Yorkshire’s national newspaper, I am looking forward to observing the procession of senior politicians heading to these parts to try to persuade readers that they really do care, are credible in spite of never having worked outside of Westminster and actually have a convincing plan to safeguard our future prosperity.

So prepare yourselves, company directors, for the call from a party headquarters asking if the secretary of state or shadow spokesman for whatever department could visit your company with entourage.

If you haven’t seen a campaign in action before, it gives true meaning to the expression ‘media circus’. But it is democracy in action and, to borrow the words of Sir Winston Churchill who died 50 years ago this month, we all know democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

I wonder what Winnie would have said about social media networks like Twitter. Something suitably scathing, I expect.

But people do occasionally use them to speak sense. Jonathan Riley, head of tax at Grant Thornton, tweeted yesterday that this general election will be the ugliest for some time and leave an awful lot, especially the young, disengaged.