UK politics

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

***May 7***

Polling day. Follow our live coverage of the results from 9pm here.

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Jim Pickard

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.’ Read more

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

Jim Pickard

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

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

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

Nearly half a million people on Monday took advantage of their last chance to get on the electoral register before the general election, setting a new daily record.

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UK voters will elect a new parliament in a general election on May 7. Our poll-of-polls tracks all national-level voting intention polling figures going back to the 2010 election – the dots on our chart – and then calculates a rolling score for each party adjusted for recency and different pollsters. Read more

In bitesized form, here is a checklist of what we do – and don’t know about the man who would be prime minister’s plans:

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If the SNP achieves anything like the victory polls suggest, we will discover quite how committed unionists really are towards the union. There will be a great temptation to respond violently to the good jock – bad jock tactics of Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond. There will also be a growing enthusiasm – especially among Conservatives – to exchange home rule in Scotland for English votes on English laws. Of course, this is what the SNP wants them to think : that the only way to destroy nationalism is to destroy the union.

Last updated: April 5

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Leaders of seven of the parties standing in next month’s UK general election are appearing in a one-off TV debate on Thursday night.

This is the only occasion that Conservative prime minister David Cameron will appear on a podium at the same time as any of the others, including his main rival for Number 10 Downing Street, Labour leader Ed Miliband. But in what is predicted to be the closest election in modern times there is as much interest in the smaller parties who could hold the balance of power.

By Mark Odell and Jim Pickard

 

Some supporters of Scottish independence believe in the conspiracy theory that MI5 was working against a Yes vote. Others have so much optimism bias about the economics of independence that I worry there is dopamine* in their Irn-Bru.

And let’s not mention the secret oil fieldsRead more

Martin Freeman video

 

The Labour Party has always boasted the lion’s share of celebrity endorsements and this election promises to be no different as the opposition tonight releases an election broadcast starring Sherlock actor Martin Freeman and Doctor Who hero David Tennant.

The video, which will run at 5.55pm on BBC Two, 6.55pm on BBC One and 6.25pm on ITV, features Freeman telling a camera that the 2015 general election will be “a choice between two completely different sets of values.” Read more

Take a look at our new graphic which details our four key battlegrounds: SNP target seats; Tory-Labour marginals; the rise of Ukip; and the collapse in Lib Dem support.

This week’s data are a timely reminder that with less than seven weeks to go until polling day and Labour and the Tories neck and neck when recently published polls are averaged, the relationship between poll leads and who might become prime minister is not straightforward. Read more