As we prepare for the launch party of voteforpolicies.org in February, here’s a short time line of the key events taking place in the lead up to a pivotal general election.
UK Polling Report currently puts Labour agonisingly one seat short of an overall majority with 325 (50%) seats from 33% of the vote. The Conservatives secure 274 (42%) seats with 32% and the LibDems have 23 (4%) MPs on 8%. The ‘others’ and Northern Island muster 28 (4%) seats with 27% of the vote. If you think there’s something whacky with the share of votes versus share of seats, you’d be right. It’s all down to our insane, defunct and undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system. It’s all explained in a non-partisan here.
The Commons and Lords take a ‘well-deserved’ final half-term break on the 12th February, before campaign starts in earnest. On 27th February, UKIP holds it spring conference in Margate, conveniently right next door to their leader Nigel Farage’s prospective seat, South Thanet.
In March, the Liberal Democrats hold their spring conference on the 13th, in advance of Chancellor George Osborne’s final budget of this parliament. Expect a raft of vote-winning policies or a hardline to demonstrate his commitment to austerity. The final Prime Minister’s Questions will see David Cameron and Ed Miliband clash over the dispatch box, possibly for the last time on the 25th. The next time we’ll see the two prospective Prime Ministers clash will be during the leaders’ debate, alongside a smorgasbord of other party leaders. The dissolution of Parliament on the 25th March marks the start of five weeks of solid campaigning. The date for when the new parliament will sit after the election is also announced.
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By the 9th of April parliamentary prospective candidates need to have submitted their nomination papers for the election. Around 140 parties stood in the 2010 election alongside the dozen that actually won seats. We certainly won’t be spoilt for choice in 2015. Unemployment figures are released on the 17th followed by the GDP figures on the 28th. Osborne and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will be holding their breath in the hope of figures that enhance their arguments.
Some 32 Conservatives, 33 Labour, 10 LibDem and one Plaid Cymru MP have announced their intention to stand down, significantly reducing the incumbency advantage of a sitting MP (Sitting MPs are recognised locally, have elector lists they can use and in many cases the reputation for being a good constituency MP, regardless of voting record or party) in 12% of seats. One such incumbent not standing is Conservative MP Laura Sandys, MP for the aforementioned Thanet South.
Nine days later on 7th May around 30 million people will go to the polls out of an electorate of 46 million.
Photo: Martin Bamford via Flickr