WHEN the goods in the shop window aren’t particularly attractive, there’s hardly likely to be a queue at the door. And Election 2015 has that feel about it.

The choice is hardly compelling and that’s what makes this the hardest election to call in a generation.

Indeed, the campaign has been so uninspiring that Scottish Nationalist Party leader Nicola Sturgeon – branded by the rightwing national press as “the most dangerous woman in Britain – has emerged as the only real star, even though she isn’t standing as a candidate.

The other leaders are so hampered by the public’s lack of confidence in them that this has become the cross-dressing election.

The Conservatives, still wounded by the rise of Ukip and desperate to lose the “posh party” label, have taken the unusual campaign route of presenting themselves as the party of the workers and not merely those responsible for all that nasty austerity stuff.

Meanwhile, Labour – ducking the accusations fired by the Tories that Ed Miliband will recklessly steer Britain off the road to economic recovery – wants us to believe that it is the party which really can be trusted with the economy. This is not the way we are used to election campaigns being run.

The irony is that all this uncertainty surrounding the two main contenders could give the Liberal Democrats a reprieve should a partner be required in another minority government. With an outright winner highly unlikely, and another election possible imminently, life could yet be breathed into Nick Clegg who began the campaign looking like a burst balloon.

In the context of our region, we believe that who to vote for comes down to a process of elimination of the parties – or a vote for an individual politician with a track record of doing a good job, irrespective of the colour of their rosette.

We have been shocked by the quality of some of the candidates representing all of the parties, so if you’ve had experience of a good MP, working hard, being visible, and fighting your constituency’s corner, perhaps the best bet is to stick with them and forget the bigger picture.

From a party perspective, David Cameron has proved to be a sure-footed, statesmanlike Prime Minister. He has looked the part and he has presided over a fair economic recovery. But we would argue that it has been at a huge social cost, not least here in the North-East. Knowing that austerity has hit hardest in our part of the country, we are unable to recommend a vote for a party which has made it abundantly clear that it plans yet deeper cuts to public services and welfare support but has been unable to spell out where those cuts will fall.

The emergence of Nigel Farage has added colour to the political landscape, although it has paled during the run-up to polling day.

The rise of Ukip has contributed to the uncertainty but it has fielded some particularly poor candidates and is surely too narrowminded to be taken seriously.

An unprecedented lack of trust in politicians is also a significant factor in this election so, while we acknowledge the challenges of being in a coalition government, we cannot give our support to the Lib Dems who reneged on their manifesto promises last time, most notably their commitment not to increase university tuition fees.

And so that leaves us with Labour – a party which is itself tortured by its own internal uncertainty over whether it picked the wrong leader.

We have stated repeatedly that we have been unconvinced by Ed Miliband and Labour would surely now be in a much stronger position if the union block vote hadn’t tipped the balance away from his brother David.

We retain doubts about Ed looking prime ministerial but his public image is better at the end of the campaign than it was at the outset. He is beginning to fit more comfortably into the leader’s suit – but has he left it too late?

The shop window really does lack appeal because, on the one hand, we worry what sweeteners the SNP will wring out of Labour to the detriment of our region, but, on the other hand, we are left with the feeling that the North-East will get the fairest deal under Labour, with its more measured approach to austerity.

If – and it remains a big if – Mr Miliband does end up in Number 10, we will be sure to remind him, and his party, to take careful note of what has happened in Scotland, where the traditional Labour vote has evaporated.

Labour cannot afford to similarly take its North-East heartlands for granted. We do not want special favours – just a fair crack of the whip.

So, that is our view. But what is most important – despite the doubts hanging over all the parties – is that you weigh up the options and use your precious vote in favour of one of the candidates standing in your constituency.

The result may be hard to predict but, make no mistake, it will inevitably have a huge bearing on some of the biggest issues facing our country: membership of the EU, the future of the United Kingdom, the shape of the National Health Service, the substance of the public sector, and the fairness of the democratic process itself.

As unappealing as the goods on offer may be, please don’t just walk past the shop.