From Alex and Jim, our eyes and ears in Westminster.
Just emerging from Lib Dem world. There are many interpretations of Clegg’s remarks. But, as Robert has written, it’s safe to say that he’s telling Gordon Brown to pack his bags.
There is some wriggle room in the statement on electoral reform. But Labour should not hold their breath. Most Clegg allies realise that the electoral maths make a deal with Labour — at least within the next six months or so – virtually impossible. Cameron will be given the first crack at governing — it is just a matter of sorting out the details.
How close will co-operation be? Will it be anything more than support on a bill by bill, issue by issue basis? What needs to be done to calm the markets … etc
Clegg’s hand on pushing for electoral reform is significantly weakened by his poor election showing. So while they won’t rule out a deal with Labour, it will mainly be to strengthen their position with the Tories. An AV referendum is probably out of the question. But the Tories could offer up some other concessions: cutting the number of (Labour) MPs, recall elections, and even fixed term parliaments. Read more
From an email doing the rounds in the City of London on Thursday morning:
Westminster will never be the same again – Philip Stephens
Don’t let Downing Street call the shots, ma’am – Eamonn Butler for the FT
Battles on the path to power – The FT
The Final Projection: Tories 19 seats short of a majority – Politics Home
Could the Conservatives steal this election? – Martin Kettle for the Guardian
Big increase in postal voting could mean delayed result – The Guardian
Treasury starts work on £6 billion Conservative cutbacks – The Times
Unsure how to vote? My contortions may help - David Aaronovitch for the Times
A reminder of the price we pay for political freedom – Benedict Brogan for the Telegraph
As Britain goes to polls, economic clouds hover – New York Times
Follow every twist and turn on our live election special, running through the night and into Friday. The Westminster Blog team will track key marginal results and the latest news from FT correspondents at election counts around the country as the nation heads to the polls.
Our expert election panel will meet for the final time on Friday afternoon for a video election debriefing. See the full list in the UK election podcast archive.
If coming third in the polls and a seemingly collapsing campaign strategy wasn’t causing enough stress within the Labour party, a Labour parliamentary candidate from North west Norfolk has called Gordon Brown “the worst prime minister we have had in this country”.
According to the Lynn News newspaper, Manish Sood, who is contesting a Tory-held seat, said: “I believe Gordon Brown has been the worst prime minister we have had in this country … It is a disgrace and he owes an apology to the people and the Queen.” Read more
The FT’s Robert Shrimsley joined Clive Anderson for the BBC’s weekly election show, The Heckler. Click here for a link to the broadcast, which is a quirky, irreverent guide to this week’s events in the general election campaign. What the politicians really think of the voters they have to woo and flatter, and if we do get a hung parliament, will our leaders be simply too exhausted by all that campaigning to thrash out a deal to run the country?
Explore the FT’s new interactive graphic featuring profiles of the Lib Dem leader, his shadow cabinet and most trusted colleagues – and a sorting function to show how they are all connected. And if you missed it, the Tory Who’s Who also has full details of the Conservative shadow cabinet and the party’s behind-the-scenes strategists.
The FT’s expert election panel will occasionally be giving their thoughts on the big news stories of the campaign. Below is Matthew Taylor’s take on how Labour can – and must- rejuvenate the policy agenda.
Matthew Taylor, former director of policy to Tony Blair:
If Labour trails in a bad third next week, a divided, demoralised and impoverished Party could easily go into a long term decline, becoming a Party whose highest realistic aspiration is to a be a minority partner in a future coalition.
Finally, today it looks like policy is on the agenda. Labour has to keep it there until the debate on Thursday and then hope that Gordon Brown can win on home territory (there are, after all, still many voters who do not warm to Brown but will on probing agree he is the best on experience and on protecting the interests of ordinary families). With a little wind in its sails Labour might yet breach the 30 per cent barrier within sight of being the largest party. This would change the dynamic of the last week. Read more
The FT’s Robert Shrimsley joined Clive Anderson for the BBC’s weekly election show, The Heckler. Click here for a link to the broadcast, which is a quirky, irreverent guide to this week’s events in the general election campaign. Is positive the new negative? How have all the main parties taken to rebuking the others for “squabbling” – or debating policy, as it used to be called?
By John Lloyd
“Reporters do of course write stories about political life in the broader sense and about the substance of issues … but when there is a chance to use these issues as props or raw material for a story about political tactics, most reporters leap at it. It is more fun … in fact they ask questions that only their fellow political professionals care about. And they often do so with a discourtesy and rancour that represent the public’s views much less than they reflect the modern journalist’s belief that being independent boils down to acting hostile.”
The US journalist James Fallows wrote this in The Atlantic in 1996. In the 2010 UK general election, it’s truer than it was.
The Economist wrote today that the mainstream media – newspapers, radio and television – dominate news and comment on the election, almost to the exclusion of significant use of the internet. Let’s hope for better next time, when the wealth of the internet can be brought to bear on electoral choice because the record of the mainstream media so far is dismal. Read more
The podcasts, which are hosted by Robert Shrimsley, will be recorded every Monday and Friday for the duration of the campaign – see the full list in the UK election podcast archive.
As part of the FT’s expert election panel, our three contributors will occasionally be giving their thoughts on the big election news story of the day.
Today, we asked how do the Tories and Labour need to change their tactics and strategy mid-campaign. How do the parties cope with pressure for changes of tactics and how do you balance the need for a different tack with a need not to panic?
Miranda Green, former press secretary to Paddy Ashdown:
So far the Conservative attempt to eschew the nastiness that brands them as “the same old Tories” (their most vulnerable spot, say the focus groups) has left them with not much to say except to warn of the dangers of the current electoral system delivering perverse outcomes – the system that they alone now defend as suited to modern political needs. Read more