Are there any women on any of the main parties’ top teams who do not embarrass the leadership? I only ask because one of the most striking subtexts of this election has been its utter masculinity. It is hard to recall an election in recent times which has been so single-sexed. The only women who we have seen regularly are Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron. At times it has seemed that this is a contest being held entirely in a monastery – or perhaps the 1920s.
It is not unusual for political parties to have an A-list of people who get to monopolise the airwaves. Come election time the cabinet and shadow cabinet is filled with disgruntled second raters who the party spin machines have concluded do not press the voters’ hot button. But in all previous elections, the parties would not have dreamed of having no women on the A-list. They always managed to find at least one, who dutifully sat in on all press conferences, wearing a bright jacket and was allowed onto Newsnight. Read more
I’ve just been told that Chris Leslie has been selected for Nottingham East. The decision is good news for Ed Balls, education secretary, who backed Leslie in the selection process – but it may be seen as another “parachuting” by the party leadership into a constituency. I reported here a week ago about the row while Peter Kenyon of Labour’s NEC has all the details of the controversy. Read more
Curious to see David Miliband, former adviser to Tony Blair – and one of the key Blairites in cabinet – turning on Dubya. In a speech today, the foreign secretary compared David Cameron to George W. Bush in what can only be described as a negative way. Read more
Has a Labour leader ever been so absent from his party’s election literature?
A fine piece of work by Kiran Stacey and Dina Rickman has shown that just one in eight Labour leaflets actually mention the prime minister. Forget the man of granite, in this ground campaign Brown is the invisible man. Read more
As part of the FT’s expert election panel, our three contributors will occasionally be giving their thoughts on the big election news story of the day. Today, we asked who is winning the war of ideas after three days of manifesto launches.
Miranda Green, former press secretary to Paddy Ashdown:
Strong contrasts from the three manifestos and their launches, which is invigorating after a bit of an “inside baseball” start last week. A slightly downbeat active state Labour plan (which anyone who actually uses a lot of public services will ‘get’ but others may not), a strong narrative about active citizenship from the Tories, and now a pitch from the Lib Dems to be honest about the state of the economy and to make some people pay more to even out social disadvantages. Read more
What to make of Brown’s new mea culpa over bank regulation in the run-up to the crash?
The prime minister has told ITV (in a programme to be screened tonight at 7.30pm) that in the 1990s the banks begged to be free of regulation and Labour in effect accepted this.
It’s a striking confession. Until now Brown has usually sought to shift the blame on to failures of international – rather than national – regulation of financial markets. And of course he has insisted that the credit crunch was imported from the US.
Alistair Darling has also blamed the banks instead of the regulators as recently as last summer. Read more
Gordon has Sarah; David has Samantha; and Nick has Vince.
The Liberal Democrats are having a good campaign. There is no reason to suppose that the publication of the party’s manifesto will change that.
The uncertainty about the election outcome has assured Mr Clegg of plenty of exposure. The televised leaders’ debates will treat him as a nearly equal alongside Gordon Brown and David Cameron. There is nothing that more excites the media than the possibility that the Lib Dems might hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. Read more
So much for an end to class warfare in British politics. At this morning’s press conference the Labour trio (Mandelson, Balls, Burnham) insisted they were not in the business of negative campaigning, despite evidence to the contrary.* Read more