Daily Archives: April 30, 2010

Jim Pickard

I’ve just come away from Brown’s grilling by Jeremy Paxman on Panorama, which will be broadcast later tonight. Read more

A little sample from Matthew Hancock’s election literature in West Suffolk. You’ll notice that he’s modest enough not to mention his time working as George Osborne’s chief of staff. A remarkable show of restraint.

Last night’s Question Time ended on an extraordinary note. The public are more in favour of a hung parliament than the Tories care to admit. But I never expected an audience to heckle and boo Liam Fox when he warned of an indecisive election result triggering a run on sterling.

You can watch it here — the mob turn on Fox around 58 minutes in. Read more

Amid expectations (among opponents) and fears (among supporters) that Gordon Brown is leading Labour to a calamitous defeat in next week’s general election, Lib Dems have been checking their electoral statistics and commentators dusting down George Dangerfield’s The Strange Death of Liberal England – a well-thumbed text when I studied history at Oxford too many decades ago to mention.

Dangerfield’s book, published during the 1930, provides the classic account of the pre-World War One upheavals that saw then then Liberal Party surrender its claim to be a party of government. Read more

Somewhere in Lib Dem HQ is a top secret target list. These aren’t the seats Nick Clegg visits; it’s an underground movement behind enemy lines. Not even Clegg will know the full battleplan. When Chris Rennard was leading campaigns, it was said that “the leader could never be trusted enough to see the canvas returns”. That probably still holds true.

Sadly I’ve failed in a long quest to uncover the list, but I’ve been given a few hints. The odds on Lib Dem wins have shortened considerably of late and I was waiting for a better moment to put down some money. But I’ve waited long enough. It’s time to take the gamble.

The strategy, if you can call it that, is to lay £5 on a eight seats that the Lib Dems have an outside chance of winning. They are split into four categories: Read more

The podcasts will be recorded twice a week for the duration of the campaign – see the full list in the UK election podcast archive.

Jim Pickard

(Apologies if you’ve already read this – it was rather lost as an update to my earlier Blair post).

The Tories claimed this morning ( WRONGLY) that the Charity Commission was opening an investigation into claims – by Tory MP Greg Hands – that one of his charities, the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative, had breached the law. Read more

Jim Pickard

An update on our betting competition after last night’s debate: I came away with £20 after correctly betting at 3/1 that the audience viewing figures would be between 5m and 10m. They peaked at 8m, according to reports today.

Alas I lost out on a few other gambles; Clegg didn’t win (although he was close), America wasn’t the first country mentioned and my audience bet on 10m to 15m (effectively a hedge) must be written off.

So I spent £20 on the four bets and have walked away with £20. Could have been much worse.

UPDATE

In fact PaddyPower have paid me £9 – it turns out that America was, after all, the first foreign country mentioned. That changes things in my favour. Read more

Jim Pickard

Tony Blair has returned from his Africa safari and will be making a speech in 10 minutes (sorry, some time soon) in a bid to turn Labour’s life-support machine back on.

Here are the two reasons why it probably won’t helpRead more

Britain’s historic general election – Martin Wolf for the FT
Cameron’s plans risk a postcode lottery – Vernon Bogdanor for the FT
UK hung up about hung parliament - The FT
Beleagured Labour unleashes Blair - The Guardian
Cameron is concealing his inner Bush - Johann Hari for the Independent

The debate:
An international view: In final British debate, economy is the focus – The New York Times
No surprises, lots of disappointment - The FT’s Chris Giles for Money Supply
The last debate – have Labour imploded? - Gideon Rachman’s blog for the FT
Barring an earthquake, David Cameron is on his way to No 10 - Jonathan Freedland for the Guardian
We came, we saw, but what did we learn? - David Aaronovitch for the Times
Pundit reaction – Politics Home

They all flunked it. The television debates have energised this election campaign. There are encouraging signs that they have jolted the nation out of its long drift to insouciant indifference. Voter turnout may well rise on May 6. But illumination? Clarity? Honesty? There was no winner on that score in Birmingham.

The third and final of these encounters should have been the best. It was about the issue that matters most to the voters: the economy. What they saw were three, rather shifty, politicians running away from the truth. Read more