Chris Gilson looks at this week in election blogs.
On Monday, Jonathan Isaby at ConservativeHome showed off the new continuation of their “I’ve never voted Tory, but…” series of posters. John Harris at Guardian Politics looks at Labour’s problems – “For Labour, unfortunately, the biggest problem remains the party’s dysfunctional relationship with its past, and at Dizzy Thinks, Dizzy looked at Vince Cable’s rising star.
Sunder Katwala at Next Left examined the risks posed by the UK’s disproportionate electoral system – something we have discussed at length on this blog. Matthew D’Ancona at the Telegraph looked at the prospect of a Labour win on the 6th of May, and what that might mean for the Tories. Then, Andrew Rawnsley at the Guardian talked about Alistair Darling’s change of fortune from being nearly sacked by Gordon Brown, to being one of Labour’s most important assets in this election campaign.
The Spectator’s political blog The Coffeehouse, examines the latest ex-Minister to be embroiled in “lobby-gate”, Richard Cabourn, while Rosie Campbell at Guardian Politics talks about David Cameron’s plans to win back the “Mumsnet vote” – similarly Labour is crowd-sourcing its election posters according to Guardian Politics.
The Tories are showed off George Osborne today, with a morning press conference and a debate in the evening with Alistair Darling. Iain Dale looks at his recent announcement to cut the planned Labour increase of National Insurance, and Coffee House mentions a tax cut for those under £43,000 a year. Hopi Sen takes Osborne to task for his claim that the Tory NI cut will be funded through efficiency savings, using the words of David Cameron from 2008. Nick Robinson at the BBC calls George Osborne’s plan to cut taxes, the deficit, and not public services a ‘three card trick’, one that will likely be popular with the electorate.
Meanwhile, Vince Cable has had to apologise to the Treasury after it came to light that he had requested the meeting with Treasury staff earlier this month, rather than the Treasury ‘consulting him’, as was previously thought.
News of the World abandons Labour for the Tories and Anthony Barnett at The New Statesman makes the case for Why we still need to evict Labour. Not quite so positive, James Blitz at the FT asks, “will the Conservatives panic?” in the lead up to the election, making more promises than they are able to keep (Osborne’s recent tax-cut/no cuts strategy is sailing close to this).
Monday evening’s Chancellors debate dominated Tuesday– Tim Montgomerie at ConservativeHome – “Labour and the LibDems did not win the debate they expected to win.” Janet Daley at the Telegraph scores Cable the highest at 8/10; the Coffee House says “solid, but few fireworks; The Staggers at the New Statesman talks of a “triumph” for Vince Cable with him leading the online debate vote and garnering the most laughs on the night, as well as a “weak” showing for Osborne. Patricia Wintour at Guardian Politics agrees. Sunder Katwala at Next Left, gives “two cheers” for George Osborne as he addressed social inequality in last night’s debate. Iain Dale fancies it as a “no score draw”. There is a good summary of blog reaction to the Chancellor’s debate by the Guardian.
Guido Fawkes exposes a banker who gave £2.4m to the Lib Dems as one of the “pin-striped Scargills” mentioned by Cable in last night’s debate. Lance Price of Guardian Politics on Tony Blair’s return to the hustings, Alistair Campbell also looks at Tony Blair’s campaigning for Labour (and how this shows Cameron’s lack of strategy) and of the distinct possibility of a “4th Labour term”. Fraser Nelson at The Coffee House, on the other hand, reckons that Blair’s return is good for the Tories. Tim Montgomerie at ConservativeHome decries the “blue on blue” criticism prevalent in many recent Conservative comment pieces, criticising Cameron and Osborne. He is thankful, however, that the parliamentary party is far more “disciplined”.
Very interestingly, Whitehall is to give Gordon Brown an extra 18 days in the event of a hung parliament, to prevent a run on the pound, according to their newly updated Cabinet Manual; according to David Blackburn at The Coffee House, this vindicates the Tories alarm over the economy.
Wednesday saw Mike Smithson at Political Betting wonders if all this talk of a hung parliament will cause a ‘hardening’ of the vote (possibly for either party) where voters reject a hung parliament. And one party actually wins an outright majority and Stephen Tall at Liberal Conspiracy asks “Is a narrow Tory victory the worst possible result?”, given the possibility of Cameron and Osborne being ‘held to ransom’ by ‘special interests’. The Guardian mentions the new SNP/Plaid Cymru alliance in the event of a hung parliament.
Damian Thompson at the Telegraph talks about the Tories’ fear of its own bloggers going “off-message” (after Tim Montgomerie’s ConservativeHome post yesterday).
The Staggers at The New Statesman discuss Brown’s challenge of recent immigration ‘scaremongering’, and characterizes the Tories’ intended limits as ‘unworkable’. Iain Martin at the WSJ characterises Sir Michael Scholar’s (of ONS) letter correcting Brown on immigration figures used recently as him treating the PM like a “naughty schoolboy”.
On Thursday, also April Fool’s day, the Guardian plays on Brown’s “bully” reputation with its joke story on Labour’s new billboard strategy. Amusingly, Iain Dale’s April Fool’s post has caused a bit of a stir in government. The Coffee House at the Spectator says that the Tories’ prank “Department for Government Waste” has a serious message about waste levels in government.
On Friday, Stephen Moss at Guardian Politics asks “Can independent candidates change the political landscape?” and Guido Fawkes has an interesting quote from Barry Sheerman, MP – “Ed Balls is a bit of a bully”.