This bizarre approach backfired immediately, however, with the Conservatives’ ludicrous claims about Labour’s spending plans unravelling in a matter of hours. Even Lord Finkelstein, the Tory peer, described the figures in George Osborne’s document as “ridiculous”.
By contrast Labour will focus on the problems facing people up and down the country. Nationally, the crisis in hospital Accident and Emergency departments is alarming, dangerous and a symptom of the complacency exhibited by David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Ministers keep talking about the big increase in people arriving at A&E but they seem unwilling to explain why it has happened in the last couple of years. This is down to ill-judged decisions that they have taken, like scrapping NHS Direct, closing NHS Walk-in Centres and cutting GP services and social care. Their inability to admit this is one of the main reasons why they are unable to face up to the crisis they have created.
Closer to home, there are still enormous challenges facing the people in our constituency – not just in Maldon but in South Woodham Ferrers, the Dengie, and all of the villages.
The Maldon constituency may have a relatively low level of unemployment – running into hundreds rather than thousands – but that should not blind us to the personal hardship facing each person who is out of work.
Similarly, the belated return of economic growth should not disguise the fact that for many people, it feels like there has been no recovery at all.
This is the first time since the 1920s that working people will be worse off at the end of a parliament than they were at the beginning. At a time when education and training are critical to the chances of earning a decent wage, tuition fees have trebled and apprenticeships for young people are falling.
Meanwhile the coalition has broken its promise to eliminate the deficit by May 2015.
And a number of key decisions are looming for the Maldon constituency.
The uncertainty over the future of the ageing St Peter’s hospital has gone on for too long.
The proposed closure of the NHS walk-in centre in Chelmsford – used by about 30,000 patients in the last year, including many people from our own constituency – is a major concern.
And the Maldon area is still desperately short of housing. It is clear we need to build more in the area but it is essential we find the right type of property and the right locations. The local development plan drawn up by Maldon District Council does not, in its current form, offer the right answers.
I shall be saying more about all of these subjects over the coming months as I talk to residents and campaign groups around the constituency.
And I shall be working hard for our general election campaign – a once-in-a-generation fight about who our country works for.
It is a choice between a Tory plan where only a few at the top can succeed and our public services are threatened – or a Labour plan that puts working people first, deals with the deficit and protects our NHS.
Peter Edwards is Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate