SO, HERE it begins in earnest – after weeks of preening, posturing and debating over debates, the countdown to the 2015 General Election has started good and proper.

And the rhetoric is already reaching fever pitch. Ed Milliband is man enough for the task at hand, apparently (“Hell, yes I’m tough enough”, he declared meaningfully to Jeremy Paxman) while David Cameron is shakily defending his record of promises on tax rises and former choices of communications chief.

The Lib Dems seem to be saying their end of the Coalition is all that kept the country from spiralling into a bigger hell of hatchet jobs on public services, while UKIP are planning a 50,000 cap on immigration. Oh, no they’re not. Or are they? It is sort of hard to tell.

And so on, and so on, with last night’s TV debate no doubt adding more fuel to the fire. And we might as well get used to it, because we have almost five more weeks to go until the big day. And district and parish level elections come to that, all of which are taking place on May 7.

As far as the GE goes, there are already times that the choice between candidates seems akin to that between a sprained ankle and mild whiplash. Some of the options on the table, meanwhile, more closely resemble collapsed lungs and ruptured spleens, but let’s not stretch the metaphor.

If you cut through the noise, though – and there is plenty of that – the key fact remains: it is up to us to decide.

The incredible turnout for the Scottish referendum proves it is possible for politics to energise and inspire.

Whether this year’s General Election does anything nearly so exciting is, to be honest, pretty unlikely.

But the outcome of this vote will have an impact – bigger than many to have come before – upon all our lives. Services are being cut, taxation is being played with, and there is a whole economic recovery at stake.

Thanks largely to the never-dimming media glare of modern campaigns, general glections have become a curious mix of head-slapping gaffes (I wonder which candidate will be the first to leave his mic on at a daft moment this year), negative rhetoric, general blather, and somewhere beneath it all, although sometimes it feels like you need to excavate to find it, meaningful debate.

It is often a different story at local level, of course, which is usually far less of a circus (as long as the likes of Nigel Farage leave their light aircraft at home this year), and should hopefully be a battleground fought in part at least on the issues affecting us where we live.

With that in mind, the BFP is organising one of two hustings events for High Wycombe (with 38 Degrees Wycombe organising a second, coordinated event) in the last week of April to help give voters as clear a picture as possible.

While this year’s choices of PM may be doing little to set the world alight so far, you can’t very well moan about who ends up in Number 10 – and the constituency seat, come to that – if you don’t get the facts first and exercise that all important right to vote.