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
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.
I highly recommend this post by Carl Gardner, a barrister and former government lawyer, about the legal basis for what happens when there is a hung parliament.
In it, Gardner makes a critical point: Read more
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:
What do betting markets make of the election so far? Well, if anything, they seem as confused as everyone else. Currently punters on Betfair are predicting that the Conservatives will win the most seats but that Labour will form a minority government and that David Cameron will be the next prime minister. Read more
The Scottish polls aren’t moving. Since Ipsos Mori shocked political observers at the end of October by showing a 29-point lead for the SNP, Labour have looked on course to lose dozens of seats to the Nationalists, perhaps ridding them of a Westminster majority.
This has unsurprisingly been seen as a disaster for Labour, and in the long run it probably is. But in the aftermath of what could be an incredibly tight general election result, Ed Miliband’s party might have managed to manoeuvre itself into a very strong position.
The pre-election poster battle intensified on Tuesday as Labour launched a new image parodying Saatchi & Saatchi’s famous 1979 dole queue montage for Margaret Thatcher, a key moment in the history of visual campaigning. Read more
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.