The voters are engaged in this election like none other in recent times. In the ITV debate last week the personality of Nick Clegg became visible. His normal context has been House of Commons amid constant yah-boo from Tory and Labour - but for 90 minutes last week he was seen as a political leader and as normal. The shock rocketed him and his party up the polls leaving Tory, Lib-Dem and Labour within a few points of each other. So what can any of them do to break ahead?
Here is a choice policy, long advocated on The Free Lunch, and how they might use it: The Citizens Royalty (aka: Citizens Dividend/Income, a non-means-tested benefit to every citizen). It has been costed as fully affordable when compared with the current welfare & tax regime. It would sweep away the worst complexities of the current benefit system. If necessary the allowances and tax rates for the higher paid could be adjusted at the top end to claw some back.
So what bits of their manifestos are involved? The Lib-Dems will give you a new tax-free allowance on the first £10,000 earned. Standard rate taxpayers will be £700 better off. But this does not give a single bean to those earning very little or nothing (i.e. the poorest). So not so fair for them - but a Citizen's Royalty would put actual money in their pocket. The Tories are giving £150 (again through a tax allowance) to married people - not so fair to singles - OK that's the point, but a Citizens Royalty would help married, singles and children (these are already getting a bit of one with Child Benefit). Nothing special on tax help from Labour. They abolished the 20% tax band so aren't really bothered about helping the low-paid apart from forcing them through the Labour welfare/tax credit obstacle course, which could be dismantled wholesale through the Citizen's Royalty.
If any party really wants to raise levels of fairness, as all say they do, a Citizen's Royalty would be an obvious way as it helps the poorest most. If they want to save costs of bureaucracy the Citizens Royalty would do so. If they want to bring in a Big Society with individuals and groups sparing time to take over state-run things, the Citizen's Royalty would provide a new source of funding at the individual and family level so people could manage financially better and spare the time to help, or donate to others who could.
The Citizen's Royalty would help bring a sense of citizenship in the immigration debate. Every immigrant on becoming a citizen, would get the Royalty but only after say 20 years. It would make a financial difference to being British.
If the Lib-Dems can give away £700 through tax allowances and make it affordable another party could probably give away £500 as a Citizen's Royalty to everyone. That is a good level to start at but there are sources of redistributable wealth for the Royalty that are even now going to bankers and landowners in huge amounts. Read The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom. If you want to help a political party in the next two weeks show them this page. Desperate times need desperate measures - they might help themselves and bring us a fairer society. It's that desperate.