Daily Archives: May 2, 2010

Jim Pickard

Hat-tip to Politicalbetting.com, which has a striking chart showing that all election-winning prime ministers with degrees since 1935 attended Oxford. (Churchill and Major didn’t go to university.)

Does this have any bearing on the current contest? Perhaps. Of the three party leaders this time, only Cameron went to Oxford; Brown attended Edinburgh and Clegg Cambridge.

I’m sitting in a lively hustings in Wells. Will be reporting later on this fascinating West country marginal. But can’t resist relaying David Heathcoat-Amory’s take on the Greek riots:

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I am baffled. Even before the votes have been cast Nick Clegg seems intent on throwing away his best negotiating cards in the event that Britain wakes up on Friday to a hung Parliament. The Lib Dem leader does not seem to realise that the conditions he has been setting down before polling day would rob him of any leverage after the votes have been counted.

Mr Clegg’s pitch to the voters in this election has been: “Here’s your opportunity to break the system. Vote Lib Dem and you can smash the duopoly that has dominated British politics since the early 1920s.” It’s an appealing message to a disgruntled electorate, as the third party’s surge in the opinion polls testifies. If the weekend polls were to be replicated on May 6, Mr Clegg might indeed end up with a bigger share of the popular vote than the embattled Gordon Brown, and the overall result would be inconclusive. Read more

“We are fighting to save tax credits”; seven words that sum up everything that has gone wrong for Gordon Brown in both this election and his premiership. I first noticed this, or a variation of it, in a radio news clip on Friday night; I then heard it again on Saturday and today. I’m fairly sure he’s said it in the debates but for some reason it only struck me this weekend.

You don’t fight for tax credits – you fight for hard-working families, you fight for the less privileged. Tax credits aren’t something you fight for, they are a mechanism. Only Mr Brown can elevate them into something worth fighting for in their own right. Tony Blair would never have made such a basic mistake.

One imagines a Brown variation on Winston Churchill: “We shall fight them to maintain a consistent quality of sand on the beaches, especially near the volleyball nets; we shall fight them on the landing grounds where they might seek to park in the bays otherwise reserved for the disabled and mothers with young children”. Read more

Jim Pickard

Unless the bookmakers are wrong then an outright Labour victory has now become an outlandish prospect.

In 2005 the party – under Tony Blair – picked up 355 seats, enough for a reasonable majority. Read more

By this stage in the campaign, you’d have thought that Gordon Brown’s nails would be chewed to the quick. But as this picture from the Observer shows, they are longer than ever. He’s broken the habit of a lifetime – and not even the run in with Mrs Duffy triggered a relapse. Perhaps he is more at peace with the prospect of defeat than we assume (or more confident of victory than we could ever imagine).

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Poll blow for Clegg as voters think twice – The Sunday Telegraph
Brown’s game is up – James Forsyth in The Mail on Sunday
Once in a generation chance for change – The Independent
Cameron’s smooth approach to transition – Robert McCrum in The Observer
No need for hang ups about a hung parliament – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer
Tories in 4-seat majority (if you include the unionists) – The News of the World
Tories plan bonfire of Labour laws – The Sunday Times

Jim Pickard

The long-awaited interview with Gillian Duffy is now with us (check out photos of her wedding, her childhood holiday to Margate, her father Walter in army days, etc) in the Mail on Sunday. Read more

Jim Pickard

Luckily it’s a correction in my favour. I wrote on Friday that I had lost a £1 bet on which country was mentioned first in the third election debate. Since then, however, PaddyPower has deposited £9 in my account: it transpires that my prediction – America – was right at 8/1.

Thus I made a 45 per cent profit off the evening’s bets rather than the zero I thought. Eat that, Alex Barker! Read more