General Election Predictions

How David Cameron Unwittingly Promoted the Rise of the SNP

25 Apr 2015 at 09:00

It could have been so very different. This general election campaign has so far been dominated by one woman. No, not Margaret Thatcher or her legacy, but another Iron Lady, the leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon. No one could have predicted it, few can explain it, but let me have a go.

When Scotland voted ‘no’ by a larger margin than expected we all thought that was it. Alex Salmond had been firmly put back in his box and he had quit the stage. The SNP would shut up, and all would be well with the union. Not a bit of it. The Prime Minister’s vow, announced hurriedly in Downing Street at 7am with the ink on the ballot papers hardly dry, saw to that. Would he deliver or would he welch on it? Labour politicians piled in accusing him of making a promise he wouldn’t deliver on. He then compounded his error by going further and suggesting even more fiscal powers, including more powers to control income tax north of the border, giving Scotland effective fiscal autonomy. Labour went berserk and over the time votes Labour had lost to the ‘yes’ campaign became permanently lost to the SNP. Not only that but even Labour voters who voted ‘no’ began to look at the SNP in a different light and consider switching their allegiances. Opinion polls started to reflect this phenomenon and pundits started talking about the SNP gaining a dozen seats, then two dozen, then three dozen. One or two commentators even predict they will gain four dozen, meaning they will win every single seat in Scotland.

I admit it, I was slow to pick up on what was and is happening north of the border and anyone who spotted this trend on Matchbook.com could be in for a bumper payday. When I did my seat by seat predictions in January I predicted a total of 18 seats for the SNP. Looking at each seat individually (and I have done this for all 650, believe it or not, thereby proving my ultimate political geek credentials) I just couldn’t see how the SNP could overturn five figure Labour majorities. I can now. LibDem MP Jo Swinson, who has held the relatively marginal seat of East Dunbartonshire told me she has spent all her life fighting Labour, but they have now given up in her seat and she is now having to cope with fighting the SNP, who have recruited more than 1,000 new members there, many of them keen to take part in the campaign and defeat her. If she holds on it will be a miracle. My words, not hers. I don’t blame Matchbook.com or its customers for not running on a market on that constituency.

This is a phenomenon on Canadian proportions. For the younger among you that is a reference to the Canadian general election of 1993 when governing Conservative leader Kim Campbell became the least successful Canadian politician of all time by reducing the number of Conservative held seats from 156 to just two.

David Cameron has played into the SNP hands at every point of this campaign. His strategy (if you can call it that) towards the TV debates has given Nicola Sturgeon a profile she can only dreamed about beforehand. Had he taken part in three three way debates like last time, Sturgeon wouldn’t have been seen in a debate south of Hadrian’s Wall. Instead she is thought by most people to have ‘won’ both the national debates. People may not have agreed with all she said, but boy did she say it well.

The Tory campaign has developed into one in which they have nothing to say apart from to warn of the dangers of a Labour-SNP tie-up after the election. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do, but not to the exclusion of everything else.

So what’s going to happen? In my latest predictions I have the SNP on 41 seats, Labour on 11, LibDems on 4 and the Tories on 3. However, this weekend I will be revising that. I now think the LibDems face almost total wipeout and will retain only Orkney & Shetland and possibly one other. I’m reducing the Tory total also, and they may even face total wipeout. I also think that if things continue as they are over the next two weeks a few more Labour seats may fall to the SNP pushing their total to nearer 50. I think the betting line on Matchbook.com is about right at the moment: with over 50.5 rated at 2.35 (42.553%) and under 50.5 at 1.645 (60.784%). I see the overs shortening as events unfold in the next fortnight. I am told by Matchbook.com that currently 58% of the volume of bets has been placed on under 50.5 seats for SNP and that under 50.5 seats has gone from 2.0 to 1.64 (50% likelihood to 60%).

Make no mistake, one way or another Scotland is going to be the big story of election night, and it means it is impossible for Labour to form a majority government. The best Ed Miliband can hope for is to lead a minority administration, dependant on the SNP and LibDems for support in important votes. I believe that is the most likely outcome of this election and would reluctantly back the 2.63 (38.022%) priced for this on Matchbook.com. This heralds a whole new, and possibly very dark era in the governance of the nation. You have been warned.

This article first appeared on Matchbook.com

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WATCH: LBC's Election Call with Ed Miliband

24 Apr 2015 at 23:28

This is our election call, which I hosted today with Labour leader Ed Miliband. It lasts thirty minutes.

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ConHome Diary: Boris Gets on 'All Fours' With Theresa May

24 Apr 2015 at 13:46

I can’t pretend that I have read every newspaper every day, but it seems to me that there is one broadsheet that has trumped its rivals every single day, and that’s The Times. Its range and depth are simply unrivalled, and what with its star team of columnists it is unmissable. Its App is also so much easier to navigate than its main rivals too. And I love Ann Treneman. Sketchwriting can be a bit hit and miss, but she has a consistency which is difficult to match.
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For hard working people #ArentWeAllDear
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Readers may remember that I wrote about the death of Sir Anthony Garner in a recent column, who was director of the party’s organisation from 1976-1988. His son Christopher has asked if I can pass on details of his memorial service. It is to be held on Tuesday 12th May at 2.30pm at St Mary’s Church in Old Amersham. He is keen to keep track of numbers so if you plan on attending could you email chris@chrisgarner.co.uk.
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I was chatting to a former Conservative MP the other day about Sir Anthony Garner, who was bemoaning the state of the party organisation and the fact that many of his members had died in the last few years or had buggered off to UKIP. “The policy on gay marriage has had a bigger impact that Number Ten realises locally. They’ve even driven away our more useful bigots.” Surely a front runner for quote of the campaign?
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It’s all part of our Long Term Economic Strategy #CourseItIsLove
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Over the weekend I got yet another of the wretched press releases from CCHQ informing me that the Labour campaign was in chaos. Thanks for that insight. Having lost every single week of the campaign to Ed Miliband so far, if I were them I’d be looking in the mirror a little more. This election is slipping away from the Conservatives and no one seems to realise it. It’s all very well warning of the danger of an SNP-Labour arrangement, but to do it every hour of every day to the exclusion of almost everything else is ridiculous. Michael Forsyth has said that the effect if to big up the SNP and make Scottish independence ever more likely. He certainly has a point. Indeed, had David Cameron agreed to do a repeat of the three TV debates from last time the SNP wouldn’t have had sniff at the exposure they have had courtesy of the two TV debates so far. That’s not to say they wouldn’t still be way ahead in Scotland, but it comes to a pretty pass when you have people in England clamouring for SNP candidates to stand in England next time.
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Only one party can guarantee you an EU referendum #YeahWeveHeardItAllBefore
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I was having lunch with a senior newspaper group representative the other day and he showed me an email he had just received from one of the biggest media analysts in the business. These people are paid to provide independent advice to bog companies. He said to me I should read the final sentence. “We have discounted the possibility of a Conservative led government”. That’s quite something for anyone to predict at this stage, but the fact that a well-respected city firm Is now doing so ought to send a shiver down the back of any Conservative strategist.
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Steve Riley is the LibDem candidate for Broadland. Let’s face it, he was never going to get my vote but having received his election address he most certainly won’t be now. It is illiterate, with numerous grammatical and spelling mistakes. He even manages to get him own phone number wrong, as it has three too many digits. I know the LibDems have leaked members in recent times, but it seems they don’t even have enough people to proof-read a leaflet. At one time the LibDems thought they could win Broadland as the Norman Lamb effect would ripple southwards from North Norfolk. They had always been strong on Broadland District Council. Their leader, the former blogger Nich Starling, resigned and quit the party and they’ve never been the same since. I predict a greatly increased Tory majority in Broadland on 7 May – not exactly my most controversial prediction.
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Would you ever vote tactically to keep Labour, or in Scotland the SNP, out? It’s a question a lot of people are asking themselves in this election. For instance, if you live in Hornsey & Wood Green, would you lend your vote to Lynne Featherstone of the LibDems seeing as the Conservative candidate has no chance? If you live in Stirling would you vote Labour to keep the SNP out, or for Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire for the same reason? Sir Malcolm Rifkind told me on Tuesday that he understood anybody who would vote for a unionist party over the SNP. He hinted he would do so himself, if it really mattered. Quite an admission from a former Scottish Secretary.
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We’ve got two weeks to save the NHS #ThatWorkedWellIn1992DidntIt
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Quote of the week by Boris Johnson (who else?): “I’m on all fours with Theresa May”. I will leave it to your imagination to guess what the context was.

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Me & Jacqui Smith: Separated at Birth

24 Apr 2015 at 09:36

I woke up at 3am this morning. I just couldn’t sleep properly for some reason. Now I know why. I switched on my phone to find a Google Alert. It linked to an article on MailOnline by Richard Littlejohn. Can’t be good, I thought. I wasn’t far wrong. I clicked on it and a pic of me came up with a lot of hair. The rest you can see for yourself…

Most nights before I go to bed, I like to watch the paper review on Sky News.
On Wednesday it was the turn of former Home Secretary ‘Jackboots’ Jacqui Smith and the LBC radio presenter Iain Dale.
I had to do a double-take. They must have been separated at birth. If Dale had a Smith-style syrup, they’d be taken for identical twins.

Thank Christ I don’t to paper review with Paul Nuttall. As you can imagine, the sleep didn’t improve.

When I got up later I texted Jacqui. She hadn’t seen it.

I have to admit, though, I’d kill for her hair.

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Attitude Column: Get Off Your Pert Little Arse/Big Fat Arse and Vote!

19 Apr 2015 at 18:51

If I stopped you in the street and asked you what you think of politicians, chances are you’d give me one or all of these replies: “They’re all the same”. “They’re only in it for themselves.” “They don’t represent people like me”. “What do they know about my life?” “They’re all lying, thieving scumbags”. And one in three of you would march away proclaiming “I don’t vote”, as if it was something to be proud of. That’s how bad things have got.

In all likelihood half of you reading this article won’t be bothered to get off your pert little arses and go down to the polling station on 7th May. And yet you are happy to take part in votes to decide who wins the X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. This just goes to show what a challenge politicians have in encouraging the population in general, let alone the gay bit of it, to take part in what ought to be the biggest celebration of democracy ever.

If you were a gay Hungarian, you’d turnout in your hundreds of thousands to vote against the Jobbik Party which wants to criminalise homosexual behaviour. If you were a gay American you’d probably turn out to vote in state referendums asking you whether you were in favour of gay marriage. Yet in this country, on the face of it, most gay equality battles are won. Yes, there are many concerns about gay bashing, about bullying of homosexual kids in schools and discrimination at work, but none of these issues are going to get gay activists protesting the on streets and telling politicians that they won’t vote for them unless there is ‘action this day’! But just because battles over age of consent, adoption rules and marriage have largely been won, that doesn’t give the gay voter the excuse he or she may need to sit on his or backside and not take a trip down to the polling station on 7th May.

The fact is most gay men and women vote in exactly the same way as the rest of the population and this is a mark of the equality that has been won over the last forty years or so. All three traditional political parties can lay claim to promoting enacting various bits of equality legislation that has improved the lot of gay people. In this election, though, we have more than just the three main political parties to choose to vote for. In Scotland, the SNP is tipped to sweep the board. In England and Wales Nigel Farage’s UKIP will win some seats and influence the outcome in the others, while the Greens think they can do the latter, if not the former.

UKIP’s LGBT chair Tom resigned at the end of February complaining of a lack of a ‘gay friendly’ tone at the top of the party. It’s fair to say that UKIP haven’t made a huge effort to understand gay issues, although I remember Nigel Farage ringing me up with the equal marriage bill was first mooted to ask what I thought UKIP’s stance should be. I’m sorry to say he didn’t take my advice, although I think Farage’s own personal view is rather more libertarian than that of some of his more recidivist colleagues. We should also remember that UKIP have an openly gay MEP (David Coburn in Scotland) invited Kelly Maloney to address their spring conference at the end of February to explain transgender issues to their members, and she received a standing ovation. I haven’t seen that happen at any of the other party conferences. Perhaps as well as certain UKIP supporters needing to reassess their own prejudices regarding gay people, we also need to look beyond some our prejudices regarding UKIP.

Courting the so-called ‘gay vote’, if there is such a thing, could well mean the difference between winning and losing in some marginal constituencies. But political candidates shouldn’t patronise us by treating us as a special interest group. Just like straight people, we have mortgages, we use the health service, we pay the same taxes, we have views on Europe.
In this most unpredictable of elections, your vote really could make the difference as to who forms a government the next day. So make sure you get off your pert little/big fat arse, and put the X exactly where you want to.

This article first appeared in the April issue of Attitude Magazine

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Future Leaders Series 3: Who Will Succeed Ed Miliband?

18 Apr 2015 at 19:17

This is the third in a series looking at the runners and riders in post-election leadership contests. You can read my article about the runners and riders in a post election LibDem leadership contest HERE and UKIP HERE. I’ll be looking at the Conservatives before May 7th.

In the event of an election defeat, it’s usual for a party leader to fall on their sword more or less immediately. People close to Ed Miliband have already briefed that if he doesn’t win on May 7th he intends to stay put. Obviously the scale of the defeat might have a bearing on this, but whether it’s possible at all is very questionable. While there’s a possibility of entering Downing Street Ed Miliband won’t be going anywhere, but if, in the end, David Cameron stays for a second term, it’s difficult to think how Ed Miliband will be able to cling to his position. The ‘one more heave’ argument isn’t likely to cut too much ice.

LABOUR PARTY LEADERSHIP ELECTION RULES

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LIKELY RUNNERS & RIDERS

If Ed Miliband resigns after May 7th, these are the most likely leadership candidates…

ANDY BURNHAM

Age: 45
Political Record: MP for Leigh since 2001, Cabinet Minister 2007-10
Likely to Stand: 100%
For: Media friendly, pugnacious, good looking, popular with the unions
Against: Mid Staffs, only came fourth in the 2010 leadership election, can be chippy, arouses suspicion among Labour MPs, performed badly when he was Shadow Education Secretary
Verdict: Has skillfully promoted his prospects with CLPs and trade unions without appearing disloyal. He is undoubtedly one of the top three favourites but his move to the left may be his undoing.
Odds: 6/1

YVETTE COOPER

Age: 46
Political Record: MP since 1997, Cabinet Minister 2008-2010
Likely to Stand: 80%
For: Performed well as Shadow Home Secretary, seen as loyal, media friendly, not seen as right or left, good sense of humour
Against: Ed Balls, schoolmarmish tone in interviews, lack of a Labour party following
Verdict: If she wants it badly enough, she’ll be one of the favourites, but she needs to set out her stall early and define herself.
Odds: 6/1

CHUKA UMUNNA

Age: 36
Political Record: MP for Streatham since 2010, Shadow Business Secretary 2011-
Likely to Stand: 100%
For: Articulate, good looking, has defined himself on the social democratic right,
Against: Lack of experience, seen as too Blairite, perhaps a little too smooth at times, will he appeal to the union vote?
Verdict: Can market himself as a fresh start, but must avoid comparisons with Barack Obama. If he can appeal across the party, he could be a very strong contender.
Odds: 6/1

ED BALLS

Age: 48
Political Record: MP since 2005, Cabinet Minister 2007-10, Shadow Chancellor 2011-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: One of the few big beasts on the Labour front bench, instills fear into Tories, much nicer than his reputation might suggest
Against: Reminds people of the Brown government, couldn’t stand against his wife, seen as too machiavellian
Verdict: Would probably be the best leader, but carries too much baggage and is likely to stand down in favour of Yvette Cooper
Odds: 33/1

HARRIET HARMAN

Age: 64
Political Record: Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 2007-
Likely to Stand: 20%
For: Ability to annoy Tories, solid record as deputy leader, would get union support, could pitch herself as interim candidate to allow younger candidates to get experience
Against: Age, too much political baggage
Verdict: Unlikely to stand, but could come under pressure. Question is, would she be tempted? I suspect she’d prefer a few months as acting leader, as in 2010.
Odds: 33/1

TRISTRAM HUNT

Age: 40
Political Record: MP for Stoke on Trent since 2010, Shadow Education Secretary since April 2013
Likely to Stand: 50%
For: Media friendly (although won’t be interviewed by me, it seems), can be an original thinker but seems constrained by his portfolio
Against: Indifferent record as Shadow Education Secretary, lack of experience, one or two gaffes, seen as a bit aloof by colleagues, unlikely to get the requisite nominations
Verdict: Competing for the same votes as Chuka Umunna, a competition he’s likely to lose.
Odds: 33/1

LIZ KENDALL

Age: 43
Political Record: MP for Leicester West since 2010, Shadow Health Minister since 2010
Likely to Stand: 50%
For: Bright, breezy, funny, good record as Shadow health minister, popular, would represent a break to a new generation
Against: Inexperience, untested outside her area of expertise in health, would struggle to get nominations, fishing in the same pond as Umunna and Hunt
Verdict: May put down a marker for the future, but unlikely to be one of the final three
Odds: 25/1

DAN JARVIS

Age: 42
Political Record: MP for Barnsley since 2011, Shadow Minister since October 2011
Likely to Stand: 75%
For: Military background, track record outside politics, would represent a clean break with the Blair/Brown era
Against: Political virgin, no real Labour party or union constituency, could he get the nominations?
Verdict: If he can get 15% of MPs to nominate him, he could be a strong contender. Might well become a media darling, but does he have the political instincts to be a successful political leader
Odds: 16/1

DAVID MILIBAND

Age: 49
Political Record: MP for South Shields 2001-10, Cabinet Minister 2006-10
Likely to Stand: 10%
For: Bright, articulate, hasn’t undermined Ed, retained his dignity
Against: Lacks the killer instinct, could one Miliband really succeed another? Would have to win a by-election, unions would do anything to defeat him
Verdict: Very unlikely to stand, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
Odds: 25/1

OWEN SMITH

Age: 44
Political Record: MP for Pontypridd since 2010, Shadow Welsh Secretary since 2012.
Likely to Stand: 30%
For: Superb media performer, doesn’t sound like a politician
Against: Inexperience, would Labour elect a Welsh leader? Could he get the nominations?
Verdict: An unknown quantity to most, Smith is one of the most talented of the 2010 intake. Should stand to put a marker down and get a better job.
Odds: 50/1

UPDATE: Several people have asked why I haven’t included Rachel Reeves. It’s because she categorically ruled herself out of ever standing for leader on my radio show a few weeks ago. And she was so definitive, that I believe her!

CONCLUSION

This would be a very open contest. Assuming David Miliband decides it’s impossible for him to succeed his brother, the most likely top three are Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna and Andy Burnham. It’s very difficult to predict who would emerge as the winner from that triumvirate, but I’m assuming it would be Andy Burnham as he would get the majority of the union votes. However, if Labour has failed to win the election there may be an appetite for a complete break with the past. Chuka Umunna might therefore pull through, or even possibly Dan Jarvis. Jarvis has the perfect backstory for Labour but is he made for the cut and thrust and hurly burly of modern day political debate? He’s been tested under fire in a military battleground, but in politics he’s a bit of a virgin.

If it were me, I’d be going for Chuka Umunna or Dan Jarvis on the basis that they would represent a new beginning and present the Conservatives with a real problem. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper are very talented in many ways, but they both have big political downsides which would be gifts to the Conservatives.

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It Shouldn't Happen to a Radio Presenter 25: Breaking the Official Secrets Act & Protecting an Interviewee

18 Apr 2015 at 11:22

Back in November I wrote about a phone-in we did on the Vishal Mehrotra case. Vishal’s dismembered body was found in 1981 and he had been a victim of terrible sexual abuse. Towards the end of the hour our collective mouths were left gaping open when we had two calls from ex-policemen, who proceeded to tell us that they were part of investigations into child sex abuse in the 1970s and 1980s and both were inexplicably shut down.

On Wednesday we followed up those calls and talked to one of the police officers again. This sort of interview doesn’t just happen. It involved a lot of preparatory work by my producer Matt Harris and our senior reporter Tom Swarbrick. We decided to change his voice as both he and we knew that by doing the interview, and saying what he was about to say, he would be breaking the Official Secrets Act. In the interview John told us how an investigation he was involved in, which involved Cyril Smith, was shut down after orders came down from on high. He also said that it was well known in police circles that there were illegal activities going on in Dolphin Square. Fairly explosive stuff, although the media takeup on this was fairly minimal as the day was dominated by the news about Greville Janner.

We then interviewed Simon Danczuk and then took a series of calls. Please do have a listen to this forty minutes of explosive radio. Towards the end I took a call from Sarah in Twickenham (we changed her name) who told us how she had been gang raped by 18 men in the early 1970s. It became clear that the likely venue for this terrible event was the Elm Guest House in Barnes, although I didn’t say this on air. My producer talked to Sarah for some time after the interview and needless to say we will be following this up. It’s hours like this that remind me why I am so privileged to do the job I do.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to George Galloway

George Galloway says Julian Assange's sexual behaviour does not amount to rape.

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The Election Week In Review With Three Wise Men & One Wise Woman

17 Apr 2015 at 23:30

Each Friday night on LBC we are convening a panel of Three Wise Men & One Wise Woman to look back on that week’s developments in the Election Campaign. They are David Davis, Sir Ming Campbell, Neil Hamilton and Margaret Beckett.

You can hear tonight’s episode HERE

And last week’s HERE

And if you like what you’ve heard, tune in at 7pm each Friday for the next three weeks.

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to George Galloway

George Galloway says Julian Assange's sexual behaviour does not amount to rape.

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ConHome Diary: Boris Johnson Is The Scarlet Pimpernel of This Election Campaign

17 Apr 2015 at 13:48

They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek him everybloodywhere. He is the Scarlet Pimpernel of this election campaign. For someone who is without doubt the second best known Conservative in the country, Boris Johnson has been more or less invisible in the election campaign nationally. Yes, he’s been supporting candidates in London, and a few outside, but he’s been far from the national battlefront, which is odd for someone who is supposed to be a huge electoral asset for the Conservatives. Perhaps he is going to be weaponised in the last fortnight. One can but hope.
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Nick Clegg will have achieved at least one thing in this campaign before he and the yellow peril are consigned to electoral oblivion (or not, as the case may be). He’s come out with the quote of the campaign so far. At his manifesto launch in some Bordello in Battersea he made the case for the LibDems continuing in coalition with one of the two main parties by declaring “We’ve put a heart into a Conservative government and we’d put a brain into a Labour one.” Boom boom. I asked Harriet Harman about this and she reckoned they might insert an appendix, but that’d be about it.
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It’s great to see Nick Robinson back on the News at Ten, giving his insights into the election campaign. Top journalist and top bloke.
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This is the first election for thirty two years in which I haven’t been out on the doorknocker canvassing. I kind of miss it. It’s the best way to take the temperature of the electorate and much better than studying polls. So if I can’t do it, the next best thing is to interrogate people who do. I was speaking to a friend over the weekend who has been out in around a dozen Conservative marginal in London and Essex, and what he had to say was quite revealing. In one or two areas he reckons the Labour vote has almost entirely disappeared to UKIP, and that it is very difficult to find firm Labour pledges, even in areas where you’d expect to find them. Now my friend is an experienced canvasser and isn’t someone given to flights of fancy about canvass returns, but he thinks the some of the polls are going to be confounded on election night. I remember having a similar experience in 1992.
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I don’t like doing aggressive interviews as I don’t generally think they shed much light. However, in this election campaign I have released my inner Paxman a little more often than I normally do. One of the main accusations against Labour is they are full of uncosted manifesto promises. It’s a charge that has been made against them in every general election I can remember. The boot is on the other foot this time, as no Conservative politician seems to be able to explain where this sudden £8 billion extra for the NHS is going to come from, or where the £12 billion of welfare cuts are going to fall. The answers seem to be “we can afford it through economic growth” and “it will all become clear in the spending review”. Oh, well that’s alright then. They’d never let Labour get away with such evasive and pathetic answers. And I am afraid that as an interviewer I won’t let Conservative representatives get away with it either, as Eric Pickles, Priti Patel and Michael Gove have recently discovered.
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I thought the Greens and UKIP both made a big mistake by publishing very detail manifestos with all sorts of unnecessary policies. What they should have done is just said, “Look, you know and we know we’re not going to form a government, so here are three things we believe in and here is our vision for the country.” I don’t care what UKIP’s policy is on regarding VAT on tampons or whether the Greens want to extend this benefit or that. And frankly nor do most people. All they need to know is that UKIP wants to leave the EU and curb immigration and that the Greens want to be nice to the environment and animals.
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With that in mind, if you went down Clapham high street and asked people what each party stands for and what their main policy offer is in this election I suspect people would say the Tories want to extend the right to buy, Labour want to axe non doms, UKIP want to curb immigration and the Greens want to curb climate change. But what of the LibDems? Can anyone really articulate a single well-known policy they have at this election? OK, people reading this site might be able to have a good stab at it, but I suspect the good people of Clapham high street might have more difficulty.

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Winning 'Blog of the Year' at the London Press Club Awards

14 Apr 2015 at 21:17

When I got an email from the London Press Club to say that I had been shortlisted in their annual awards I got very excited. I knew Nick Ferrari had won Broadcaster of the Year last year at the same awards, so I thought, wow, that’s quite an accolade. However, I hadn’t been shortlisted for Broadcaster of the Year, I had been shortlisted for Blog of the Year. Shurely shome mishtake. I scratched my head in slight bemusement.

As you will know, my blogging since 2010 has been intermittent to say the least, although admittedly as the election approaches I have tried to up my game a bit. But even I would be hard pressed to say that my blogging output has been as high profile or maybe as influential as it was between 2005 and 2010. But hey, I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
So off I trotted to Stationers’ Hall near St Pauls to the London Press Club Award lunch. It was quite a star studded audience, in that anyone who’s anyone in newspapers was there, including most newspaper editors.

The even started with Andrew Lloyd Webber being given the Londoner of the Year awards and then we had a speech from the Director General of MI5 Andrew Cargill. We were told we were to treat it as a confidential briefing, so if I told you anything he said I’d obviously have to kill you. So I won’t.

And then it was onto the awards. I don’t know about you but on those occasions I have ever been shortlisted for an award, I adopt a split personality. Of course I want to win. I’d be inhuman if I didn’t. But there’s also a big part of me that thinks “No, please let it be someone else” as the thought of making a duff acceptance speech fills me with horror.
I was up against Sarah Ditum and David Hepworth. For some reason I kind of guessed I was going to win. I have no idea why, call it instinct, I suppose. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, it isn’t meant to be as there have been plenty of occasions when I have been shortlisted and guessed I wasn’t going to win. And I was right then too!

So what does it all mean? Well, it has made me think about what I do with this blog and whether I should try to up my game a bit. I am going to try. I will never go back to the good old days when I blogged several times a day, but I’m going to try to blog a bit more often. But I’ll only do it when I have got something to say. I gave up the old blog at the end of 2010 because I hadn’t got the time to keep up the volume that people had come to expect.

In 2015 Twitter has taken over the kind of short-form blogging I used to do. My articles on this site are a lot longer than they used to be on the old blog. I’m sure there is a happy medium somewhere.

Anyway, I hope you continue to enjoy what I do on here.

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