Scotland may remain gripped in the claws of winter but, for election candidates and campaigners, January brings a quickening of step. All of a sudden the Scottish Parliament polling date of 5 May no longer seems a distant spot over the horizon.
I am fortunate, in Edinburgh, to be part of a team that has already been planning for 6 months and more. The fruits of that planning are now to be reaped. But, still, there are many practicalities to deal with. Ward newsletters to sign off. Royal Mail Freepost leaflets to prepare. Campaign premises to be secured. Volunteers to brief and policy to polish and re-polish. There will be few breathing spaces between now and May but I’ll be aiming to write regular blogs here to chart progress.
And it is not simply logistics. While I firmly believe that voters in Lothian will vote Green with their second vote in sufficient numbers to return two Green MSPs in the region again (just as in 2003), elections cannot be won on mechanics alone. The strategy needs to be right, the messages clear.
From that point of view, there is good news. While the media will relentlessly seek to portray the election as a SNP-Labour two horse race, voters are not so easily fooled and the voting system far more subtle than that. The SNP no longer enters the race as a fresh new face and Labour, while holding a steady lead in the opinion polls, has a leader in Iain Gray, who fails to elicit much enthusiasm. The Liberal Democrat vote is, apparently, weaker than I can ever remember it. And the Conservatives seem trapped in a post-Thatcher slump.
The Green alternative is an exciting one. It is the only alternative. Roll on 5 May!