This is the first of a series of Monday "On the Hustings" sketches I'll be producing over the next seven weeks with a sideways look at how the general election has been going here in Suffolk and across the country.

This is my ninth general election as lead reporter in Ipswich - I started with the 1992 poll that the Conservatives stunned everyone by winning.

But it's worth repeating a few ground rules.

We always try to be as fair as possible throughout the campaign - but that doesn't mean equality of coverage in every article.

If Rishi Sunak turns up on Ipswich Cornhill, Labour cannot expect to get equal coverage in that article, and the same would go if we see Sir Keir Starmer here!

We're under no legal or IPSO regulation to be fair at all times - look at how the national newspapers cover elections. We try to be fair because it's the right thing to do, not because we're told we have to do that!

East Anglian Daily Times: Rishi Sunak calls the general election - albeit in the rain outside Downing StreetRishi Sunak calls the general election - albeit in the rain outside Downing Street (Image: PA)

Having said that, this column will be a chance for me to point out some of the quirky, amusing side issues that might come up - and if you come across anything you think is worth highlighting, please email me.

The campaign didn't get off to the greatest start - in fact the Prime Minister seems to have irritated many members of his own side while pleasing the opposition with the timing!

At 11am last Wednesday, most people still expected the election to be called in October or November.

Several rumours had been floating around Westminster over recent months - there had been a suggestion he might have called an election on the same day as the local polls at the start of this month.

Labour voices were telling me they were on constant alert because they didn't trust the PM.

I turned on PMQs at noon on Wednesday and saw that the BBC political editor Chris Mason had written a short blog saying that there were more rumours surfacing that morning - and this time they seemed to have more substance behind them.

Over the next couple of hours it became clear that the election was on and I was able to write the story to publish the second Mr Sunak confirmed it.

But what a mess that became! Why on earth did he make the announcement in a Downing Street downpour when a multi-million pound media centre with conference room has recently been opened there? 

And many on his own side are asking why he went now when his officials had clearly been briefing that election would be in the autumn? 

Labour didn't trust these briefings (rightly so) and kept their troops on alert. 

The Tories did trust the PM's office and have been left feeling totally let down. In Suffolk I've heard of activists who are away - one senior Conservative organiser arrived in Florida for a holiday just days before the bombshell.

Clearly Ipswich Conservatives had been wrong-footed. I tried to get pictures of both them and the Labour Party campaigning on the first weekend after the election was called.

Labour goes out every weekend and was able to tell me straight away where to meet them. Despite calling several Conservative activists, no one could tell me if or where they were doing anything.

The invitation remains open. They know how to get hold of me. I look forward to seeing their campaign efforts over the next week or so.

What's ironic is that I haven't found one Conservative happy about the election date while Labour activists are rubbing their hands with glee.

This flat-footed campaign launch is either the most fantastic double-bluff pulled by the most far-sighted PM in British history or it looks like Mr Bean has strayed into an episode of The Thick of It.

Time will tell!