Chancellor George Osborne has been freed from the shackles of coalition government to deliver his seventh Budget but the first purely Conservative Budget in almost two decades.
Although dark clouds are gathering in the eurozone, Britain’s economic recovery continues at a steady pace and the public finances are slowly improving, giving him the opportunity to shape the economy, public finances and tax system for the next five years.
Mark Odell, Elizabeth Paton, Jonathan Eley and Ferdinando Giugliano
George Osborne is encouraging new Conservative MPs to join a Treasury “support committee” as the chancellor looks to cultivate loyalists among the new 2015 intake in preparation for a leadership bid as early as this parliament.
The chancellor held a sandwich lunch with new MPs where he told the new 74-strong new Tory intake his department was “where the action is” as he pointed to protégés – Sajid Javid, business secretary, Amber Rudd, energy secretary, Greg Hands, chief whip – who had risen through his Treasury team. Read more
In The Unfinished Revolution, his account of New Labour’s rise to power, Philip Gould wrote that the paradox of 20th century politics in Britain was “that the party of conservatism held power because of ceaseless modernisation” whereas “the party of radical change lost power because of its conservatism”. Far more so than the US Democrats or centre-left parties in north-western Europe, Labour has strong nostalgic tendencies, the pollster argued, stemming from its roots in Fabianism, religion, trade unions, and the cultural conservatism of the English working class.
Such attitudes were fostered by the break with Liberalism, which made more difficult the sort of left-wing coalitions found elsewhere in the rich world. In the century that gave rise to the mass franchise and the welfare state, the Conservative party was in government for two-thirds of the time; the Labour party was in government for less than a quarter of it (23 years). For Gould, this was due to Labour’s resistance to what he called “modernisation” and the embrace of ideological purity over pragmatism. Read more
After a month of silence from the Bank of England as a result of the pre-election purdah for public bodies, Governor Mark Carney today presented the central bank’s quarterly inflation report.
By John Aglionby and Emily Cadman
Where now for this weary union? After the general election triumphs of the Scottish National party and the Conservatives, voices in both parties are calling for the UK government to find a new constitutional settlement. But what might this mean?
I think there are four possible – but not equally possible – options for what might happen in the short-term, roughly taken to mean the next year, before the 2016 elections to the Scottish parliament in Holyrood. They are not necessarily exclusive. Read more
Welcome to our live election coverage, bringing you the latest reaction to the Tories winning an unexpected majority – taking 331 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.
Labour’s Ed Miliband, the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg and the UK Independence party’s Nigel Farage have all resigned as leaders of their respective parties. Clegg, deputy PM for the last five years, hung on to his seat but his party lost all but eight of its MPs. Farage failed to win the seat he was contesting.
The Scottish National party also had a triumphant night, trouncing Labour north of the border. (Photo FT/Charlie Bibby)
Mr Cameron made four Cabinet announcements, reappointing George Osborne chancellor of the exchequer – and promoting him to first secretary of state; Theresa May home secretary; Philip Hammond foreign secretary and Michael Fallon defence secretary. The rest of the Cabinet is expected on Monday.
A summary of today’s events
Polling day. Follow our live coverage of the results from 9pm here.
Labour strategists are blaming the likely loss of at least 30 seats in Scotland for projections suggesting that the party could get only a handful more MPs than it did in 2010 under the leadership of Gordon Brown.
For decades Labour has been able to outperform the Tories with the same proportion of the total votes because of an imbalance in the electoral system. Read more
Welcome to the FT’s Live Q and A on the general election. With the polls too close to call and leaders going to unusual lengths to push the vote in their direction, deputy political editor Elizabeth Rigby takes your questions.
Ask away in the comment box to the right. We will start the live Q and A on Wednesday at 12.30 London time.
Okay, the US vice-president hasn’t directly commented on the Scottish National party. But in any analysis of public policy it is important to keep his words in mind:
‘Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.’
At the 2007 Holyrood elections, the Scottish National party campaigned to “dump the debt” accrued by students at Scottish universities. It promised to service the existing loan debt for Scottish graduates “by meeting their annual loan repayments, re-introduce grants instead of loans and scrap the graduate endowment fee”.
A look at its record shows that most of this didn’t happen. In England, the Liberal Democrats were punished for their broken pledges on tuition fees, but in Scotland, the SNP has been able to use its policies as “evidence” of its progressive credentials. Read more
In the last of four televised events, the leaders of the three main political parties are appearing in a special edition of Question Time on BBC1, just a week ahead of what the polls say will be the closest fought election in modern times.
Each will separately face 30 minutes of questions from a studio audience starting with Conservative prime minister David Cameron, followed by Labour leader Ed Miliband and rounded off by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister.
By George Parker and Kiran Stacey
OK, we’ll bite. The Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner has a column with a headline which tends towards alarmist:
Negative interest rates put world on course for biggest mass default in history
This UK election was meant to be about the economy, where the government enjoys a hefty lead over its opponents. All it needs in the last 10 days is for the voters to turn their attention towards jobs and growth and government should be returned.
That, at least, was the plan – and today’s GDP figures ought not to overturn it. Growth of just 0.3 per cent compared to the 0.6 per cent expected is inconvenient for the spin doctors, but hardly heralds a return to recession. Moreover, it is normal for these preliminary figures to be badly out of whack. Many still remember the third quarter of 2009, when the ONS announced continued recession, and Goldman Sachs’ response was “Unbelievable. Literally”. Within a few years, this quarter of supposed stagnation was revised towards growth. Read more
Ed Miliband has reiterated a pledge he made a year ago – to cap rises in the rent that landlords can charge their tenants, writes Giles Wilkes.
Landlords are aghast, as are most of the economics fraternity. However, Mr Miliband is no fool. Behind what sounds like another clumsy attempt to misunderstand how the free market capitalism works, there are threads of political and economic logic.
Grace McCloud, sitting in the garden of her council house in Possilpark, listened patiently as Willie Bain asked for her vote.
“We can get the Tories out and start delivering fairness in this country,” he told her. “Aye,” she replied, nodding.
“We won’t get fairness while they’re still in.” Again she replied, smiling: “Aye.”
After Mr Bain disappeared up the street she gave her honest opinion. “No, I’m voting SNP. I’m all for independence,” she said.
Possilpark is one of the most deprived areas in Glasgow, scarred by the decline of manufacturing since the 1980s: out of 70,000 adults only 28,000 are registered taxpayers. Read more
Danny Alexander is in tiggerish mood as he poses for photographs by the banks of the sparkling river Ness at the foot of the Scottish highlands.
The Lib Dem Treasury chief secretary is giving what could be one of his last ever major interviews as an MP – an Ashcroft poll undertaken in February showed him 29 points behind the SNP.
The chart below shows the 2010 general election result for every seat in Great Britain with the colour showing the party that won . Dots that are nearer the apex of the triangle had a higher vote share for Labour in 2010, those closer to the bottom left; for the conservatives while the bottom right corner shows the share for all other parties.
You can already see in this chart where the battlegrounds lie as the colours meet where one party is getting about 40 per cent of the vote. Read more
Beyond the immediate political battles being fought by the Labour party against the Scottish National party, and the Conservatives against both of them, there is a more fundamental tension north of the border. It is between politics and economics.
The pro-independence SNP has the political momentum. Not only is it set to win the vast majority of Scottish Westminster seats, its rise has provoked the sort of reaction among senior Conservatives such as Sir John Major that serves its cause. The more the SNP playing a role in Westminster is seen as somehow illegitimate (a ridiculous notion), the more it fosters the belief that Scotland and England are drifting apart. Read more
It might be the closest general election in living memory, but another coalition government after May 7 won’t affect your ability to find a new job. That’s the implication of a new survey of 600 employers by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
Just 4 per cent say they’ll cut back on their hiring plans if there is another coalition. For the majority (64 per cent) it will make no difference whatsoever. The remainder say they don’t know. Read more