A Rap Battle, The Sex Vote, And Election Bets: Counting Down To 5/6

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Dan Bull has created an eve of election British debate rap battle (above). The second half is better than the first. Mark Tran reflects on the campaign:

Sometimes you can get to the end of an election campaign and feel that nothing very much has changed. That hasn't happened this time. The leaders' debates really did put a rocket under the Lib Dem campaign and in the polls Nick Clegg's party has enjoyed a lasting boost. On the stump David Cameron turned out to be even better at retail politics than people predicted. And (at least until this week) Gordon Brown turned out to be even worse. But the day-to-day campaigning did not seem to make much difference to the figures. We've reached the eve of polling day with the Tories still ahead, seat projections varying wildly (depending on what swing model you use...), a hung parliament on the cards – and polls showing that a huge chunk of the electorate still hasn't made up its mind...Election nights are always interesting. But tomorrow will be exceptional.

George McCoy gives voting instructions to those interested in more relaxed sex laws. In other sex news, the Sun's page 3 girls endorse the Tories (link NSFW):

Page 3 Girls in all their glory represent the very image of freedom in this country. But if Labour or the Lib Dems win the election, this could be the last time they are allowed to pose together. MPs Harriet Harman and Lynne Featherstone will move swiftly to change the law and ban Page 3 forever. Our national treasures - who even enjoy the Royal seal of approval from our future King Prince Charles - will be no more.

538UKFinal

Nate Silver's final projection:

Polling during the past 48 hours has tended to show very slight gains for the Conservatives and Labour at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. Our projection model now forecasts that Conservatives will have 312 seats in the House of Commons (up from 308 in our previous forecast), Labour 204 (up from 198) and Liberal Democrats, 103 (down from 113).

Mark Blyth and Jonathan Hopkin have a Foreign Affairs piece on the election:

[T]hree issues press the next government's agenda -- force projection and great-power status, Britain's "special relationship" with the United States, and its relationship with the European Union.

Britain ceased to be a credible world power during the Suez Canal crisis of 1956, yet it still seeks to punch above its weight. With a weak economy for the foreseeable future, however, the new fiscal reality may curtail such ambitions, no matter who wins the election. The IMF has estimated that to bring the U.K. debt level back to around 60 percent of GDP, Britain will need to cut the equivalent of 12 percent of GDP from its budget over ten years. Big-ticket force-projection items, such as the Joint Strike Fighter and the modernization of Trident, the United Kingdom's missile-based nuclear weapons program, will necessarily come under intense scrutiny. International commitments, such as Britain's continuing presence in Afghanistan -- which is already deeply unpopular with the British public -- may also be called into question.

Anatole Kaletsky is hoping for a Tory-Lib Dem deal:

Suppose that the Tories emerge as the leading party, but require Lib Dem support. This would produce a far stronger government, provided the two parties could agree on terms. These terms would probably not entail a formal coalition, since their policy differences are profound and many, but on a temporary pact for peaceful coexistence, in which the Liberal Democrats would agree not to vote against the government on motions of confidence and budgetary issues, in exchange for a Tory promise of a referendum on electoral reform.

Such an agreement might last for two years or so. It would not commit the Lib Dems to positively supporting Tory economic policies, but it would require them to acknowledge the overriding national interest of economic stability and to abstain from parliamentary obstruction. The Tories would not need to support PR or any other electoral reform but merely to put these issues to a referendum in which the governing party would be free to campaign for a “no” vote.

05Prediction
Simon Hix and Nick Vivyan's final prediction:

Basically, this model predicts that the Conservatives will secure between 271 and 315 seats, that Labour will secure between 197 and 241 seats and that the Liberal Democrats will secure between 93 and 121 seats.

Bagehot's view of the campaign:

In campaigning terms, it had been dominated by the television debates. Bigotgate was the only other moment that got much of a look-in. The debates overshadowed much of the rest of the national campaigns. Meanwhile, apart from the early embarrassment over Labour's choice of blogger to introduce Gordon Brown at the launch of the manifesto, and a couple of candidates de-selected for online indiscretions, new media have been much less important than their excitable boosters predicted. I am a fan of the debates, but they have made the campaign feel like long bouts of pointlessness punctuated by brief periods of excitement.

It hasn't been pointless for the bookies. The British are betting like mad:

British voters have wagered more money on the uncertain outcome of tomorrow's vote than on any other election, with recent surges of betting on David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats seeing bookmakers revise forecasts of total election betting from £20m to up to £40m. During the 2005 general election campaign only £10m was gambled.

CameronGetty

Daniel Finkelstein recalls the first time he voted Tory:

You may remember those posters: “I’ve never voted Tory before, but.” The Conservatives put those up because they realised that, among undecided voters, an extraordinary number said that while they were thoroughly disillusioned with Labour, they had never voted Conservative before. Now, they said, they were on the brink of backing David Cameron. And then, again and again, they added this: “My grandad would roll in his grave.”

Many pollsters assume and adjust their polls accordingly that a disproportionate number of these undecided voters will return to their past voting behaviour rather than following the trend. This has helped to make polls more accurate in the past. The result largely depends on whether that assumption holds good this time.

So, annoyingly, this election will be determined by people fighting a tribal urge that I’ve never felt and can’t completely relate to.

Thursday's front pages here. Here are The Sun's and the Mirror's covers:

CameronMay6

Anthony Well's prediction:

[M]y guess is we are going to see the Conservatives between 300-310, Labour between 220-230, the Liberal Democrats between 80-90 (though I warn you, I may be a pollster, but my personal powers of election prediction are notoriously poor!) For other pollster predictions, TNS have made a seat prediction of CON 292, LAB 204, LDEM 114; Peter Kellner’s personal prediction is CON 300-310, LAB 230-240, LDEM 75-85; Angus Reid have a prediction of CON 320-340, LAB 165-185, LDEM 105-120.

Alastair Campbell carries water for Brown:

I do not pretend to be as close to [Brown] as I am to [Blair]. Nor can I claim we have not had major disagreements down the years. We have. Nor can I say there have not been moments when I have willed him to do things he is not doing, or not do things that he does. And yes, there have been moments in the past few months when I have wished I could escape the political bubble for good instead of being drawn back in to the point where the campaign has been close to a full-time occupation again. All that is true. But the pull of Labour is strong, and this I know: if I had to choose between [Gordon Brown], David Cameron and Nick Clegg for PM, then it has to be Gordon every time. Heaven knows he has his faults - everyone does. But my God you have to admire the resilience and the depth of a man who just will not stop fighting for what he believes in.

From the Telegraph's endorsement of the Tories:

This newspaper was never convinced by the New Labour experiment. We believe that the past 13 years rank as a wasted opportunity of historic proportions. Elected on a wave of near-euphoria at the start of a decade-long economic boom, Labour was better placed than any post-war government to change this country for the better. Yet Tony Blair's "project" was undermined from the start by two fundamental flaws. The first was the conviction that only big-government solutions can bring about lasting change; the second was the belief that to throw money at a problem is to solve it. The consequence was a spending binge of unparalleled profligacy conducted by an ever-expanding state machine – almost a million people have been added to the government payroll since 1997. When Labour came to power, public spending accounted for 40 per cent of GDP. Last year, the figure was 52 per cent. Following the worst downturn in 70 years, and burdened as we are with a deficit of gargantuan proportions, the unbalanced nature of our economy will hamper British recovery.

05Clegg 

Rachman lists promises Cameron is likely to break first:

1. The tax-break for married couples: the new government is going to need every penny of tax revenue it can get.

2. Raising the inheritance tax-threshold - a totemic policy for the Tories, who think it helped to turn their fortunes around. But can you really justify a tax-break for the middle-classes and the rich, when everybody else’s taxes are going up?

3. Re-negotiating the European treaties to repatriate powers over areas like work-place legislation. The Tory rank-and-file would love this. But it would involve the expenditure of a huge amount of time and political capital, for not that much gain.

Paul Mitchell looks at Northern Ireland and the DUP's possible deal with Cameron:

For Cameron, it may mean that with 318 seats he has a working majority.

421Brown

Peter Hoskin worries:

The question hanging over the dying stages of the campaign is this: will the negativity cut through?  Strategists on both sides, for Labour and for the Tories, think that Brown's disingenuous warnings about "Tory cuts" to child tax credits, for instance, are having some effect.  Whether it's enough to move the polls tomorrow remains to be seen - although I can't imagine, or perhaps can't bring myself to imagine, that Brown's exclusively gloomy and misleading rhetoric will achieve much beyond alienating the electorate.

And Hamish Macdonell rounds up newspaper endorsements:

Daily Mail: “Why we must vote DECISIVELY to stop Britain walking into disaster … and give the Tories their chance.”
Sun: Alongside a picture of topless page-three girls: “Sixteen Page 3 girls in all their glory represent the very image of freedom in this country. But if Labour or the Lib Dems win the election, this could be the last time they are allowed to pose together.”
Independent: “There is a strong case for progressively minded voters to lend their support to the Liberal Democrats wherever there is a clear opportunity for that party to win.”
Daily Telegraph – Conservatives
Sunday Telegraph – Conservatives
Daily Express – Conservatives
News of the World – Conservatives
Guardian – Liberal Democrats
Times – Conservatives
Sunday Times – Conservative
Economist – Conservatives
Independent on Sunday – Liberal Democrats
Observer – Liberal Democrats
Mail on Sunday – Conservatives
Financial Times – Conservatives
Mirror – Labour, but urging tactical voting for Lib Dems

(Images: (1) Conservative Party Leader David Cameron listens to a question during a breakfast meeting with servicemen and women on April 22, 2010 in Exeter, in south-west England. By Adrian Dennis Getty Images (2) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown addresses party supporters at a private residence on April 21, 2010 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. By Christopher Furlong/Getty Images (3) Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg speaks to party supporters during the last day of campaigning before polling day on May 5, 2010 in Eastbourne, United Kingdom. by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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