Previewing a possible future, Massie posts this video of Ukraine's hung parliament:
Iain Dale bids good riddance to Tory candidate Philip Lardner, who was suspended for homophobic remarks:
Tory Rascal has written a heartfelt post about how it makes him feel, being in the same party as dinosaurs like Mr Lardner. I sympathise with him, but he knows, and I know that people like Lardner are increasingly rare. The party has changed, and it's in no small matter due to David Cameron's leadership. He's called Lardner to account and I hope any Conservative does the same if they encounter people in the party who hold similar distateful, and profoundly unconservative views. They should be chucked out of the party for good - not just suspended. Mr Lardner already had one strike. He's just had his second. I wouldn't bother allowing him a third.
From the post that Dale flags:
I don’t doubt that David Cameron genuinely wants shot of the party’s homophobic legacy, to turn us into a party that more accurately and fairly reflects our modern society. It’s not for nothing that we have 20 openly gay PPCs standing throughout the UK, who, if elected, would give the Conservatives more gay MPs than any other party. Cameron has been consistent in voicing the party’s support for civil partnerships, and has apologised publicly for his past support of Section 28. A sincere recognition of the importance of equality should be our Clause IV moment. Has it really happened, though? Aren’t we still a bad choice for gay people?
I don’t subscribe to the arrogant assumption, seemingly common on the left, that gay people are single-issue voters. My sexuality although important to me is only a part of my world view. I believe in the importance of low taxes, in secure civil liberties, and in genuine freedom of speech even, or especially, if that means protecting the right to offend. I believe in the importance of reducing the pettifogging bureacracy and state-sponsored interference that Labour has shoehorned into our daily lives...I believe that strong armed forces, and a nuclear deterrent, play a vital role in maintaining our influence on world affairs. You might disagree with those views, and I’ve expressed them, deliberately, in simple terms; but they are conservative values.
David Denver looks at turnout:
Examining turnout in general elections since 1950, two important points can be made. First, there is an overall downward trend, and the last two elections have been especially bad. Second, within that trend turnouts have been higher when elections are considered likely to be close and when there have been clear policy differences between the parties. The long-term trend is explained by a steady decline in the proportion of voters especially younger people who think that voting is a duty. It will be pretty sensational news if this is reversed in 2010. We are left, then, with the two short-term factors the closeness of the contest and the differences between the parties.
Martin Kettle asks who will lead the opposition should the Lib Dems come in second in the popular vote but third in seats. Katharine Quarmby profiles the Greens, who are trying to elect their first MP:
I arrived to meet the Tory candidate, Charlotte Vere, dripping wet. She was kind enough to make me a cup of tea and talk me through her strategy for the seat. She believes that she can tempt voters in the wealthier north of the constituency, and is campaigning hard in the swing wards in Brighton. Her campaign literature, however, betrays the effect of a serious Green challenge on the other parties. Labour and Lib Dems alikeboth of whom are also fielding strong female candidatesare forced to greenwash their politics and their literature, because green issues are raised constantly on the doorstep and the parties can’t sidestep the issue.
Anthony Wells explains hung parliament procedure:
Formally Cameron and Brown have a free hand in negotiations, Clegg does not. The Southport Resolution in the Lib Dem rules requires him to get the support of 75% of the Parliamentary Liberal Democrat party, and 75% of the party’s Federal executive (and failing that the support of two-thirds of the wider party) in order to enter into any agreement that “could affect the party’s independence of political action” taken as meaning a coalition agreement. While all the leaders would in practice need to take their parties with them, only Clegg would have such a formal process to deal with somehow.
A Labourlist writer also brushes up on hung parliament strategy:
[If] there’s a hung parliament after May 6th, whatever the result in terms of votes or seats, Gordon Brown would have not only the right but also the duty not to resign before he had faced the new parliament and submitted a programme for government in the Queen’s Speech, being careful to ensure that his programme was one which the Lib Dems would find it virtually impossible to vote against. In other words, the decision that the Lib Dems will need to take is not (as the media pundits all seem to assume) “whether to support Labour or the Conservatives as the new government” but rather whether to defeat or support a Labour government’s Queen’s Speech that promises a referendum on electoral reform, tax reform to take the poorest out of tax, restructuring of the banks, a new approach to civil liberties, re-examination in the defence review of the decision to replace Trident, provision to bring illegal immigrants who have been here for 10 years into the legal economy and the tax system, and a cornucopia of other Lib Dem shibboleths.
Andrew Grice notes that all the political parties are shying away from difficult but necessary fiscal rebalancing:
There wasn’t a secret deal but Labour and the Tories arrived at the same point: austerity isn’t working. George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, tested the market by spelling out some cuts at the Tory conference last October - including a pay freeze for some public sector workers and restricting tax credits and child trust funds for better off families. Mr Osborne won plaudits for bravery in the City of London. But the Tories took a hit in the opinion polls and surprise, surprise - Labour accused them of clobbering middle income families. The Tories are still committed to these cuts but have been reluctant to add to the list.
To drive that point home, here's a paragraph from the Institute for Financial Studies report that came out today:
The Conservatives want to start tightening earlier and proceed more quickly. They plan an additional £6 billion tightening this year and would aim to get almost all the repair job done a year earlier than Labour and the Liberal Democrats in 201516.
The Conservatives’ greater ambition would make a relatively modest difference to the long-term outlook for government borrowing and debt. The Conservative plans imply total borrowing of £604 billion over the next seven years, compared with £643 billion under Labour or the Liberal Democrats. Assuming no further change in borrowing beyond 201718, we project that the Conservative plans would return government debt below 40% of national income in 203132, the same year as it would under Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
And here's how Labour is exploiting the Tories' relatively minor cuts:
Iain Dale objects to the ad and gets an email from doctor.
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