Archive for the ‘2010 Election’ Category
In an interview with the New Statesman this week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave a very personal response to attacks directed towards him.
“I’m a human being, I’m not a punchbag – I’ve got feelings,” Clegg told the magazine.
He says that media representations of him are outlandish “cardboard cut-outs” and sometimes people come up to him to express support in a whisper – “as if it’s a guilty secret saying anything nice about Nick Clegg.”
So you know what, because I like to show there are other ways of looking at things, I’ll say something nice about him.
This time last year, we were talking about Cleggmania. He was perhaps the story of the election campaign.
Most people who had kept half an eye on the election knew that we were heading for a hung-parliament and a coalition government.
I voted for the Liberal Democrats, as I said at the time, because I wanted to support the notion of a change from the two traditional parties always running the show. I don’t regret it. The Labour candidate won in my constituency and was ALWAYS going to win. My vote for her wouldn’t have mattered, so I wanted to make it count in at least some small way.
My question is this – did we come to expect far too much from Nick Clegg?
I find it very surprising that people are surprised (pardon the repetition) at how this coalition is being run. It is and was always going to be a Conservative government. The Liberal Democrats have neither the weight nor experience to be as affective as everyone thinks they should be.
That’s why I don’t buy in to the argument that “Oh, the Lib Dems said this in their manifesto but we’re not seeing it happen, it’s a total democratic disgrace.”
Let’s not forget something – the Liberal Democrats won just 57 seats compared to 258 for Labour, and 306 for the Conservatives. While we are talking about a “democratic farce,” would it really be democratic to implement a manifesto that won just 8.8% of the seats? I don’t think so.
And many people seem to forget that the Deputy Prime Minister is a complete nothing job. John Major did not even appoint one.
Nick Clegg, essentially, is on strings. (In fact, I have a nice theory (those of you who know me, know I like to come up with stuff) that the microphones hanging down from the roof of the House of Commons represent the strings of our puppet politicians).
Anyway – not only that – the tuition fees problem has now over-shadowed everything Clegg has done and will ever do in government. Good or bad.
Clegg’s biggest mistake was individually supporting the rise in tuition fees. It was a PR blunder, and the bill was ALWAYS going to be passed anyway. In fact, the Liberal Democrats helped soften it (very, very slightly). But by supporting it, the 24-hour news, instant-results demanding generation saw it in one way and one way only – that Clegg raised tuition fees to £9,000. He’s that guy now, no matter what.
He’s lost the student vote forever, and he has slapped democracy in the face by so blatantly saying one thing and doing another. But would he have done it in a Lib Dem majority government? We will never know, but I suspect not.
My point is however, that Clegg has been responsible for some nice touches in the last year or so. Raising the Personal Tax Allowance to £8,000 being one. However because of the tuition fees, it will never ever be good enough.
Will he ever be popular again? No. His face and his name are associated with everything that is happening right now. It wasn’t what he got in to politics for, but it would have been naïve of him to think that it would have been anything but torment when entering one of the fiercest arenas in the world.
As I did with the American election in 2008, here is a guide to the most important times during tonight’s election coverage – if you are planning on staying up, you can use this to organise your sleep breaks and coffee boosts! Have fun, and may the best party win!
Election Results – where to watch:
BBC: BBC One, BBC HD, BBC News Channel: 9:55pm – 6am
ITV: ITV1: 9:55pm – 6am
Sky: Sky News, Sky News HD: 9pm – 6am
Channel 4: 9pm – 1am
There are five likely outcomes in this election: at the moment ALL polls strongly point to a Hung Parliament – so what is likely to happen as we wake up on Friday morning?
Scenario 1: Conservatives win with overall majority – David Cameron Prime Minister (Con: 40%; Lab 27%; LibDem 25%)
Scenario 2: Conservatives win but just miss overall majority – Hung Parliament (Con 37%; Lab 26%; LibDem 29%)
Scenario 3: Conservatives largest party, but need the Liberal Democrats to get into power – Hung Parliament – Con/LibDem coalition – David Cameron Prime Minister (Con 35%; Lab 28%; LibDem 29%)
Scenario 4: Lib Dems put Labour back in to power – Gordon Brown Prime Minister (Con 33%; Lab 30%; LibDem 29%)
Scenario 5: Liberal Democrats to deal with Labour to put Nick Clegg in power – Lab/LibDem coalition – Nick Clegg Prime Minister (Con 33%; Lab 29%; LibDem 30%)
It’s going to be a long night, so if you need to take a break and sleep at any point – make sure you keep these times in mind:
22:00: Polls Close. The BBC, ITV and Sky will produce the results of an exit poll, projecting the winner. It’s not always accurate, but in 2005 they predicted the result perfectly.
22:42: First to declare. In 2005, the record was set for the fastest count in Houghton and Sunderland South. With Sunderland aiming to be first to declare this year, it could be around this time that we get the first result.
23:30: Sunderland Central could produce the first big result of the night. With the Conservatives needing a 12.8% swing, a win here could be a dangerous sign of things to come for Labour.
00:45: Birmingham Edgbaston – another swing constituency where the Conservatives could turn another seat away from Labour early on.
01:00: Durham City – With the Liberal Democrats needing just a 0.17% swing to win this seat, it could be the first indicator that the LibDems will be taking seats from Labour. Tooting could provide some indication of where undecided voters have gone – during the election campaign, the constituency has changed it’s voting intentions three times – from undecided to LibDem, then to Labour.
01:30: Rochdale – The constituency where the now famous Gillian Duffy was called a “bigoted woman” by Gordon Brown – will this have cost him the seat?
02:00 (194 seats will have been declared by the end of this hour): In the last two elections, the most seat declarations were made between 2am-3am, so get the coffee on the go and expect this to be a busy hour! Blackburn, Redcar, Norwich South, Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, and Renfrewshire East – the Torries, the SNP and the LibDems are all challenging for Jack Straw, Gordon Borwn and Charlees Clarke’s constituencies. In Redcar, the Liberal Democrat candidate, and chancellor should they win power, Vince Cable, needs a huge 15.6% swing to win the seat.
03:00: Morley & Outwood could provide a huge twist in the election with Ed Balls’ seat within Conservative reach. Dorset West could also be an important gain for the Lib Dems.
03:30: Gordon Brown spent part of his week in Strethem, will Labour hold on to it. Somerton & Frome could go from yellow to blue as the Tories try to take seats from the Lib Dems and avoid a hung parliament. In Brighton Pavilion, the Green’s need 6,479 votes to win – could they get their first EVER Parliamentary seat at the expense of Labour?
04:00 (By now 538 seats declared): My home constituency Worcester and the constituency in which I voted Leicester West, are both projected to be declared at around 4am. Dagenham & Rainham has been on the BNP’s list of realistic seats – can a big vote for them help the Tories overturn this Labour seat? Barking is also declaring – this is the BNP’s top national target – will they win their first ever Parliamentary seat in London? Other marginal seats declairing this hour include: Southampton Itchen, Harrow West, and Richmond Park.
05:00: Chorley could be the seat that sees the Conservatives bring home an overall majority if they manage to overturn their target seats successfully, meaning that David Cameron will be confirmed as the new Prime Minister. Jaquie Smith is trying to hold on in Redditch, and the Tories will look to overturn Westminster North.
06:00: Wells is a seat that the Liberal Democrats can take from the Tories, if they manage to, it could complete an excellent night for Nick Clegg and British democracy.
Friday May 7th: 20 Constituency’s will start counting at 9am, and the election in Thirsk & Malton has been delayed until May 27th following the death of a candidate during the campaign. Norwich North and Morecambe & Lunesdale will be the last seats that are likely to change hands during the election, and in Buckingham the convention of not challenging the Speaker of the House of Commons for his seat has been broken by a challenge from UKIP’s Nigel Farage – will it be successful?
A full list of constituency declaration times is here on the Telegraph website.
It’s kind of ironic, I’ve been studying politics for five years and I’ve taken an interest in it for years before that – yet, here we are with one day to go and I’m not certain which box I’ll be putting my X in to.
Some people align themselves to a party. I don’t for one simple reason – I think it blinds people. In this constituency, Leicester West, I know plenty of people who are hardcore Labour voters. They have always been going to and will vote Labour tomorrow – posts on Facebook and Twitter show that they clearly believe that the modern Labour party is something it is not. There are people here, and largely amongst my parents generation that will never vote for the Conservative Party because of the 1980’s Thatcher government. Then there are the Liberal Democrats – and I’m afraid to tell you – it will be an anti-climax tomorrow. Yes, we’ve got a little excited and a little carried away, but as ever, when we wake up on Friday morning we will not have a Liberal Democrat majority government. Whatever Cleggmania has told you there will be many who still see a Lib Dem vote as either wasted, or a vote for the Conservatives in some areas, and Labour in others.
The first advantage of being open minded is that it allows me to see all of the above points, and secondly, it means my vote won’t be wasted tomorrow. So why have I not decided yet?
The main reason is this – I don’t like, trust or want any of what is being offered tomorrow. A candidate to win my vote has to offer the following – pro-European Union. The EU is not perfect, but it will remain that way as long as we are negative about it. A properly structured, working EU would be excellent, and having someone who believes in it would put British interests at the heart of it. I want someone who offers political reform – this voting system simply is not fair and favors the Labour Party, who could still technically form the next government with the least amount of votes out of all three main parties. And finally – I want a written constitution. It just makes sense to organize our country properly, to embed certain rights and identify who we are as a people. It would stop anything as appalling as the expenses scandal from happening again. These are my main issues, and on a smaller scale there are many other things I care about, but no one candidate seems to be offering them all.
So where do I stand?
I don’t trust the Conservatives, I honestly don’t. I think they would be bad for Britain in Europe, I think their big society is unfair (although theoretically a good idea if people weren’t so lazy), and David Cameron’s general lack of ability to communicate his policies properly have put me off the party – “We would save £6billion in the economy” … yes David – BUT HOW!?
I like my local Labour candidate as a person, and it’s clear that although uncharismatic and boring, Gordon Brown knows what he wants to do and how to do it. However – I just had an awful vision the other night of a massive anti-climax to this election. Waking up on Friday morning with things exactly the same as they were – going back to something I was unhappy with before. Brown keeps telling us we want a New World Order, his blatant lying to the Iraq Inquiry, his inability to deal with corruption, benefit after benefit to people that are equipped for so much more with a little encouragement. The reason I have struggled to find comfort in Labour’s campaign this year is because I keep hearing the words “We will do …”. “We will reform the voting system” etc. etc. Ok – well you’ve just had 13 years to do it, why should I believe that you would do it now? It’s simple – I don’t.
Then there’s the Liberal Democrats – the talking point of this election campaign. Finally, the idea that we could have another choice from the two old parties that have failed us for so long has emerged. It’s something I love – as a neutral – as someone who has no allegiance to any party and makes up his mind on election day – this is great. However – it’s meant that Nick Clegg hasn’t explained himself very well. He has an Obama-like character, he speaks well and looks strong on TV, but do the LibDems really know what they are doing? I don’t think so. Their manifesto (because you have to look there to find out any of their real policies), is kind of like an “If I were Prime Minister I would …” children’s activity book. They promise a lot of things that make sense, but you can tell they don’t know what it’s like to be in government. This worries me.
The most likely election result is a Hung Parliament. Which means that we will probably reform the electoral system and have another election later on this year. Maybe that would be the best option – a fresh, working, modern British political system that really can represent the people. The problem with this option is that a Hung Parliament lacks any sort of concrete, decisive leadership and would most likely swing the economy in to a double-dip recession (no, I don’t know what that really means either but I heard Gordon Brown say it so it must be clever).
That’s, in short (but probably long for a blog post) – is what is happening in my head.
And finally – if I had to vote this second who would I vote for?
I’ve always said – if I voted in Worcester I would vote for Mike Foster (Labour) – I like him and I think he’s doing a good job in my home city. Worcester is a Labour/Conservative marginal seat – so voting for any other party would let the other one in, and I don’t think the Conservative candidate, Robin Walker, is the man for Worcester.
HOWEVER – I’m voting in Leicester West. A Labour “safe seat” – although how safe any seat really is at the moment is yet to be seen. At this moment in time, I will vote for Peter Colley of the Liberal Democrats. Which is ironic because I don’t like him (having met him only once), and I do like Liz Kendal the Labour candidate. However, seeing as the Tory’s won’t get in anyway in Leicester, and the seat is pretty set on being won by Labour – I thought instead of vote for a party or a candidate as such, I will vote for the approval of choice. Whether they would make a good government or not – I applaud what the Liberal Democrats have done this year – finally someone else, realistically, to choose from.
Unless someone in the next 12 hours convinces me otherwise – I will be using my vote to say yes I want change, yes, I want another option to choose from, and yes – I want that Hung Parliament, which may see us suffer in the short term, but in the long term will set us up with a fairer, more democratic country.
Today I managed to catch up with the Liberal Democrat campaign as Nick Clegg stopped his big yellow bus outside De Montfort University here in Leicester.
In a campaign overshadowed by third year assignments for me, it was great to be able to meet one of the candidates and listen to them speak.
As a journalism student, it was fascinating to experience the pre and post-speech and interview buzz from the press, and push through crowds of people trying to get to the man himself.
Clegg made a speech to the crowd first, which attracted many people including a group of fellow students brandishing “Vote Labour” signs in the background – behind Nick Clegg and in full view of the camera. It was extremely irritating – I haven’t decided whether my vote will go to Labour or the Liberal Democrats yet, but to see this on my university, I thought, was a shame. Where we trying to tell Clegg that we didn’t want him there? I would love to see leaders and politicians debate at our extremely politically active university – but are they going to want to when they get harassed like that? Gordon Brown didn’t make the effort to come and talk to us.
Fortunately – I happened to be filming during the moment that one student jumped up, grabbed the sign, ripped it up and throw it away. It was a fantastic moment – Clegg turned around, confused, and continued talking.
As the speech came to an end, I ran to where I thought he would be going, I didn’t want to miss out on the front row again … I managed to stop right in his path. When he had finished talking there, Matthew Bunn called me over and we were pushed out of the way by the BBC News camera team who set up right next to us. It was the perfect opportunity for me to thank Clegg for coming to our university, and for giving us another choice in this election.
As I said – I’m still slightly undecided – but there’s one thing that’s swinging me in favour of voting Liberal Democrats at the moment – there achievement. I think that it’s truly remarkable how in this race they are. Yes there popularity has risen from a carefully choreographed TV Debate, and no they won’t be forming the next government, I don’t they would be capable of doing so. It’s finally given Britain a realistic third-choice though – because let’s face it, everyone is tired and disillusioned with the current government, and no one trusts the Tories – but one of them, or both of them, will be leading our country from May 7th 2010 onwards. I’m proud of Clegg and the LibDems, and what they’ve done!
Now on to the negative side of things – Clegg really has not explained his manifesto properly. He’s spent a lot of time telling people that the two “old” parties (Labour and Conservatives) have spent the last 60 years taking it in turns to mess things up … which is true. It’s easy for him to say what the Liberal Democrats will and won’t do because they won’t have to, and have never had too. There’s a huge uncertainty for me – having them form a government, I think, would be a huge risk. They don’t know how to handle the economy, or foreign policy – I think that’s clear from listening to some of Clegg’s policies. They also have many policies that they never talk about – lowering the drinking age, legalising marijuana and weed, and the Liberals are extremely sympathetic to the idea of a one world government – this is not in the interests of the average British person.
Looking at the United States is a good example of electing an unexperienced leader on hype. Now – I like Obama, and I like Clegg, but politics is a game – and the “leader” isn’t the one pulling the strings.
Before you vote Liberal Democrats next Thursday, read in to their manifesto and some of there pet projects. Look at some of the bills Obama has passed in the United States – all great ideas (Healthcare), but in reality – it’s a 2,000+ page, unread bill beefed up with risky side projects that hand over a lot of power and freedom to not many people (those right at the top). There are some dangerous people that would take a Liberal Democrat Britain for a ride if they got in and that worries me.