Post Cleggmania, people are no longer talking about a big Tory majority as a certainty in the way they were doing months ago. Even the best psephologists have no idea which way this general election is going.
But the most likely outcome still seems to be the Conservatives either getting a tiny majority (over 326) or falling short by a few dozen seats.
PaddyPower is offering just below evens on David Cameron’s party ending up with 301-350 seats. That would be consistent with a poor showing for Labour – not helped by Duffygate – and a strong (but not astonishing) performance by the Lib Dems. Read more
A hung parliament will produce governmental paralysis and economic mayhem. Well maybe. But may be not.
The Institute for Government, which like the Institute for Fiscal Studies tries to offer up a few facts to inform the fevered pre-election debate, has a neat briefing on hung parliaments on its website.
One particular piece of Powerpoint is well worth the look for those who fear that a hung parliament will see the UK knocking on the door of the IMF within days.
It plots governments, whether they be coalitions, majority or minority controlled, against the size of their structural deficit. Read more
Oh no, no no no. My innards are shrivelling up even as I watch it. It just goes to show the parties are right to keep their leaders away from voters.
Just to recap on the facts:
1) Gordon Brown on a visit to Rochdale, has a perfectly civil ding-dong with a Gracie Fields type who tongue-lashes him over a range of issues including immigration Read more
After selecting a couple of outsiders, I’ve gone for a safer bet on low turnout.
The received wisdom is that this is a close election with big stakes that is re-engaging voters. Some commentators think turnout could even rise from what is a very low base of 61 to over 70 per cent, which is much closer to the historic average.
But from the limited time I’ve spent speaking to voters in marginals, this doesn’t ring true. None of the parties have really captured the public imagination in the way Tony Blair did in 1997, and even then turnout was only 71 per cent.
Labour voters are clearly fed up with Gordon Brown. Those unable to bring themselves to vote against Labour will just stay at home. As Matthew Taylor notes, Labour activists are worried about low turnout. The Gillian Duffy incident will not have soothed their concerns. In addition, young voters have been flocking to the Lib Dems, but that age group has a poor track record of actually voting. Read more
It is “The Thick of It” incarnate – as one political editor remarks to me. Brown, post-gaffe, was ensconced inside the house of “bigot” Mrs Duffy apologising for his remarks for about 40 minutes.
Emerging from her front door, amid a media scrum and a gathering of excited Rochdale locals, the prime minister said he was “mortified” by what had happened.
“If you like, I’m a penitent sinner,” he said, a fixed smile on his face. “Sometimes you say things you don’t mean to say, sometimes you say things by mistake….I wanted to come here and say to Gillian, I was sorry I made a mistake but I understand the concerns she was bringing to me.” Read more
Ladbrokes is offering tempting odds on the viewing figures for tomorrow’s debate. It has 3/1 on an audience of 5m-9.99m and 5/4 on 10m-14.99m.
The former in particular seems like a very generous offer:the first debate got an audience of 9.4m on ITV and the second got 4m on Sky, reflecting the latter’s generally lower viewing figures.
I’m also putting a bet on the slightly higher range, just in case more people turn out for the grand spectactular on the BBC. (I’m not betting that they stay for the full 90 minutes, however). Read more
Before any politician starts getting too pompous about Gordon Brown’s gaffe it’s worth remembering the time that Nick Clegg was overheard on a plane dismissing a potential reshuffle with Danny Alexander, chief of staff. Read more
The FT’s expert election panel will occasionally be giving their thoughts on the big themes of the campaign. Today, they each write a memo to their leader giving advice for Thursday night’s debate and the remainder of the run-up to the polls.
Charles Lewington, former press secretary to John Major:
David, you have three tasks in the final days – rebutting Labour’s attack on your economic policies, continuing with the tedious but important process of warning about the dangers of hanging the parliament and taking the gloss off the freshly minted Liberal Democrat brand without attacking Clegg personally. Read more
What will damage Gordon Brown over today’s unfortunate encounter is that Mrs Duffy – it transpires – seems to be far from the ignorant “bigot” that Brown labelled her.
Bewildered by her encounter with the prime minister, she said that all she wanted to know was “why I was called a bigot.” Mrs Duffy, in her own dignified way, said that Mr Brown was an “educated person” who should have known better. Read more