We're now less than four weeks from knowing the result of the 2024 General Election - but in many ways the next fortnight is the most crucial period.

Nominations have closed so the candidates are committed to standing. Postal votes will start to be sent out at the beginning of next week - and many are likely to be returned within a day or so of their arrival.

Postal votes will play a big part this time around. After the pandemic there was a big push to get people to vote by post because it saves them going to polling stations - and it also saves the need for voter ID documents.

About 30% of people now vote by post and most of them will probably vote by the end of next week.

So the last two weeks of the campaign will have no relevance to them.

Having said that, those postal voters who do vote early are likely to be the politically committed who were unlikely to change their vote anyway.

And that does seem to be one feature of this election - there is very little evidence of major changes in voting behaviour across the country.

That is very bad news for the Conservatives. Although things could get even worse for them.

If there is any change, it appears to be a slight uptick in Reform UK's support following Nigel Farage's surprising (or not surprising to some of us) announcement that he was standing in the election.

On a simple level that is obviously good news for Messrs Farage and Richard Tice who run Reform UK but it is probably even better news for Sir Keir Starmer because any haemorrhaging of support from the Tories is likely to improve the chance of Labour picking up a few more seats.

I know Mr Farage will claim that his party, whatever it's called at this election, will pick up seats from Labour too - but the fact is that its rise in the polls was accompanied by a fall in Tory support but not Labour.

In fact, last week was pretty poor for the Tories both locally and nationally.

Locally, the fact that Tom Hunt felt the need to confirm that he was standing as a Tory while expressing sadness that he wasn't on the same side as Messrs Farage and Tice was eye-catching.

I wonder what Ipswich's One Nation Conservatives who have always been a key part of their campaigning team made of that!

Nationally, Mr Sunak's claim that Labour tax rises would cost each family £2,000 sounded quite a good slogan on Tuesday night. 

By Wednesday morning, however, it had been discredited by the civil service which had helped draw up the figures and by that evening both the BBC and ITV's Peston programme had run the Tories' plans through the same process and found they would cost families £3,000!

We then had the extraordinary row that blew up over Mr Sunak's decision to fly home early from the D-Day commemorations to record an ITV interview.

When you have to come up with a grovelling apology and you're under fire from your own troops in the middle of an election campaign you know things aren't going well!

Whichever way you look at it the polls are looking bleak for the Tories - current figures suggest they could do even worse than they did in 1997.

In my heart of hearts I really cannot imagine the Tories losing any more Suffolk seats than Ipswich or Lowestoft but different polling organisations using different methods keep coming up with results suggesting even the rural seats are at risk.

This has not been a good week for the government. It really, really needs a good week over the next seven days. All that would do is turn this campaign into a contest - at present it looks like a walkover!