Delia Smith, the nations favourite cook, has followed actor and comedian Steve Coogan with a plea for voters to vote Labour. She warns that Conservatives would be a “recipe for disaster” for the NHS and believe that under a Tory government it would be “run like a supermarket.”
Steve Coogan issued a video over the Bank Holiday weekend saying that the election “is on a knife-edge”. Coogan is no stranger to campaigning in the public eye as a prominent member of Hacked Off, the campaign for media regulation.
At 4pm today (Friday 24th April), New York based David Miliband, confirmed that he submitted his postal ballot and was backing his brother for PM. Five years ago most of the smart money would have been on the elder of the two Miliband brothers being the one beating a path to the door of 10 Downing Street. However in September 2010, David very narrowly lost the Labour leadership election to Ed. On 15 April the following year Miliband resigned from Parliament to take up the posts of President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee in New York City.
His preference will have surpised no-one, but his absence from the campaign as both brother of the Labour leader and a former Foreign Secretary is certainly notable.
Malcolm Rifkind has resigned as chair of parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) and will not seek re-election as an MP at the general election.
His decision follows an undercover investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches and The Telegraph into services for cash. Both Rifkind and Jack Straw MP were suspended from their parties after accusations that they offered services to a fictitious Chinese company.
Jack Straw suspended himself from the Labour party as the evidence came to light but Rifkind held on and was still fighting to keep his ISC chair until this morning when he announced that stepping down was “entirely my personal decision.”
He added “I had intended to seek one further term as MP for Kensington, before retiring from the House of Commons. I have concluded that to end the uncertainty it would be preferable, instead, to step down at the end of this parliament.”
He maintains that the allegations made by undercover reporters are “contemptible.”
It sounds preposterous doesn’t it? Bear with me though.
Most of the polls put Labour and the Tories neck and neck with around 33% of the vote each and a forecast 280 seats. That would leave either party short of a working majority by 46 seats. Most polls put the SNP as the next biggest party with 40-50 seats. At the low end that is not enough for a two party coalition. Even if Salmond had enough seats to broker a majority, the animosity held by SNP voters for Labour in Scotland and for the Conservaties full stop would make a coalition deal nigh impossible.
Despite attracting around 15% of the popular vote the electoral system will probably deny UKIP more than 10 seats. The LibDems look like they’ll get around 25 so not enough for them to hold the balance of power this time around.
So what are we left with? A second election may produce the same result again. A three party coalition would require three parties that could work together and there are no combinations that fit that bill.
A Con Lab coalition starts to look a little more plausible doesn’t it? The fixed term parliament act provides for a five year term. The leader of the party with the higher share becomes PM. The leader of the other party steps down and his successor becomes Deputy PM in a government of national unity. These things happen in times of great strife. With chaos in Ukraine and the Middle East, the European Union rocked by the election of Syriza in Greece and the existence of the Union under enormous stress with the rise of Scottish nationalism this may be such a time.
This is the most complex general election in living memory. There is no predictable result, so an unthinkable outcome could be exactly what we get.
Whatever the outcome of the May Election there are only two leaders that can become Prime Minister. Despite falling support for both Conservative and Labout they are still the biggest parties by some margin. Almost every poll suggests that neither will get an overall majority though.
The SNP will more than likely be the next biggest party but Alex Salmond won’t form a coalition with the Conservatives and Miliband probably won’t do a deal with the SNP. Despite UKIP’s strong poll showing, that’s unlikely to translate into many seats because of the way support is distributed with very few constituency strongholds for the nationalist party. That may well leave the Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power once again. The precedent that they set in 2010 is that they will enter into discussions with the party that get’s the most popular support. It will be almost impossible for them not to adopt the same policy this time around.
Most polls are putting Labour and Conservative neck and neck, In fact the May 2015 Poll of Polls today separates them by just 0.1%. So a swing of 1% either way could decide whether or not Cameron hands the keys to Number 10 to Ed Miliband in May.
There has been much talk about David Milibands digital plans for the leadership contest, and both brothers represent a generation that should be more web savvy. However both need to get a better understanding and a firmer grip on the social space.
Ed Miliband was bounced into announcing his intentions early because constituency party member Mary Wimbury tweeted about his plans on Friday night when activists were ask to endorse his plans. “At Doncaster north labour party. Delighted that Ed Miliband has told party members he is going to stand for party leader.”
Whilst the brothers are avid users of twitter David in particular has been dogged by fake twitter accounts. As recently as last week party members were ‘retweeting’ comments from a fake DMilibandMP. The nature of social media is that it is difficult to regulate and manage, however the potential for campaigns to be thrown off course is real and immediate. Therefore it is essential for the modern politician to monitor the social space and engage the expertise required to deal with both the threats and opportunities from social networks.
This extraordinary argument played out live on Sky this evening after Gordon Brown announced that he would be stepping down. Murdoch owned Sky News hasn’t exactly established itself as a bastion of independent minded analysis during this election but the sight of the political editor of a major broadcaster being drawn into a heated exchange like this is amazing to behold. You might almost imagine he was angry at the possibility of discussions between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
Logic dictates that this blog should shuffle off or transform itself into something that covers the wider issues of politics and social media, but we live in interesting times. I think that the chances are extremely high that 2010 will see a second UK general election.
If the LibDems do a deal with the Conservatives the backlash that they will face for ‘dancing with the devil’ with no promise on voter reform will inevitably destabilise the coalition, that’s if it gets off the ground. A Conservative minority government wouldn’t last long and a Labour/LibDem/SNP/Plaid Cymru/DUP/Green coalition would be inherently weak.
It’s hardly a cast iron solution but another plebiscite is looking increasingly likely.
The combined Conservative and Labour share of the vote fell to less that two-thirds of the total ballots cast for the first time since 1918, the election that followed the great war. That’s important because the two main parties have dominated politics for generations but their stranglehold is slipping and has been gradually eroded in successive elections since the middle of the last century. In this election is was around 65.3%. What that means is that even under the first past the post system hung parliaments are increasingly likely.
In order to form a majority administration Labour or Tory parties in the future will have to include the LibDems. Wouldn’t it make sense to get in first and build the foundations of future coalitions.