The Labour machine have just tried to rebut the Tory claims that 20 more of their seats are vulnerable to a blue surge.
They point out that the 20 include supersafe Houghton & Sunderland South, where the Tories would need a 20 per cent swing. They also claim that two of the seats – Coventry South and Sherwood – would have been required by the Tories to form a majority anyway. Am trying to check whether this is true. Read more
It’s fair to say that Alex will easily win our little contest if his Cardiff South (40:1) bet comes in on the Liberal Democrats. But it’s a long shot by definition. By contrast I’m sticking to a core strategy of going for unsurprising victories where the odds are better than they should be.
Harrow West, until 1997, was Tory through and through. In 1997 it was seized by Gareth Thomas, a likeable Labour MP who has served as a minister in DFID and the business department. He is looking seriously vulnerable, however, with a majority of only about 2,000. A swing of 9 per cent to the Tories and he is a goner. Read more
The FT’s expert election panel will occasionally be giving their thoughts on running themes of the campaign. Today, we asked each to describe their fantasy cabinet in a Government of National Unity.
Miranda Green, former press secretary to Paddy Ashdown:
My fantasy is a Government of National Unity to reform the finances and the political system. We can include talent from all parties – Brown out, and Cameron and George Osborne out, I’m afraid, as punishment for wasting their big electoral opportunity. A bit of Labour continuity and a lot of Lib Dem and Tory appointments, including:
Nick Clegg for prime minister and Alan Johnson for deputy prime minister working closely to keep it together (possibly rotating?). Alistair Darling stays as Chancellor, in the interests of stability, with Vince Cable is Business Secretary on a brief to tackle the banks. David Miliband at Home Office with Chris Huhne as Justice Secretary to protect civil liberties. Lord Adonis and Michael Gove forced to be joint at education and push through sensible reforms. Read more
At today’s Labour press conference I asked the education secretary two questions: Read more
For my second political bet of the campaign I’m heading to Cardiff again, a place which could will emerge as the first major city in England and Wales with no Labour MP.
My first bet was on the outside chance of the Lib Dems taking Cardiff South (40-1). The Lib Dems are safe in Cardiff Central and Labour are seen as a spent force in much of the city, so the Lib Dems are concentrating their resources on a big upset in the South. Read more
Try it if you dare. The FT deficit buster — an online simulator of the next three year spending round — allows you to choose your own package of cuts. It should definitely carry a health warning.
The project started as a simple question: can we show what it would take to halve the deficit by making £30-40bn cuts? The answer exposes just how little all three main parties are willing to tell you about the looming spending squeeze.
Take the easiest option in the game: acting as your own chancellor, free of party spending commitments. In today’s splash, we include an illustrative package of measures to make savings in the order of £40bn:
A 5 per cent cut in public sector pay; freezing benefits for a year; means-testing child benefit; abolishing winter fuel payments and free television licences; reducing prison numbers by a quarter; axing the two planned aircraft carriers; withdrawing free bus passes for pensioners; delaying Crossrail for three years; halving roads maintenance; stopping school building; halving the spend on teaching assistants and NHS dentistry; and cutting funding to Scotland and Wales by 10 per cent.