Starting at 8pm last night, running through the 90 minute opposition leaders’ debate, post-debate spin room coverage, the 10pm news, Question Time and This Week, there were nearly five hours of political porn. Great for political junkies but we won’t know until 8th May if it engaged any of the millions who won’t vote or are not registered to do so.
NB: There are three days left to register to vote. Don’t lose you vote and don’t let family members lose their vote. Registering takes no more than five minutes.
Last night the leaders of the five mainland Britain opposition parties debated. In three weeks we will wake up with a constitutional headache. Collectively we will have voted for the balance of power between parties, almost certainly giving no party an overall majority. We are then in the hands of those we elect to decide who can form a government and command the confidence of the Commons.
In advance of the debate, the BBC’s poll-of-polls (16 April) gave the Conservatives and Labour 34% each. The LibDems stand at 8%, UKIP at 14%. In Scotland, the latest poll-of-polls (9 April) gave the SNP 48%, Labour 27% and Conservatives 15%. On Monday, a TNS BMRB poll gave the SNP 52%.
UKIP’s Nigel Farage played to type by seeing “left-wing” BBC bias in the audience selection and bringing everything back to Europe and immigration. SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon was once again arguably the strongest performer and forcefully argued for a Labour-SNP deal after the election. The Green’s Natalie Bennett has sharpened her game and gave a storming opening address and was the only panellist to mention climate change. Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Woods had another pop at Nigel and pointed out Wales’s central government funding disadvantage. The more you see of Ed Miliband the less accurate media caricatures are proving to be – he can be impressive.
All the party leaders condemned the Conservative’s David Cameron for missing the debate. In advance of the debate Mr Clegg said he had been “denied the opportunity” to speak because David Cameron had not wanted to take part. The Greens, Plaid Cymru and SNP all declared that they would not support a Conservative government and held out a hand to Labour to form a centre-left alliance. UKIP’s Farage said he would support Labour if they promised a referendum on Europe, which seems unlikely.
A snap survation poll afterwards gave Ed Miliband (won the argument) and Nicola Sturgeon (best participant) the victor, although expect The Daily Telegraph to call it for the Conservatives in the weekend’s headlines.
We are heading for a hung, rainbow parliament. On the 7th April, Electoral Calculus predicted Labour would only just be the largest party but 44 seats short of an overall majority – you need 326 sears to have a majority. Unless there is a significant shift in the polls, their prediction of seats makes a Labour-SNP deal seems inevitable.
The narrowness of the polls gives the electorate an enormous amount of power. We can’t be taken for granted in 2015 and every vote will count. As we pointed out in January, no MP in 2010 secured a majority of their constituency’s electorate. Not voting tends to be the winner. We have a stark choice to make.
Being informed about the policies of the parties and seeing which party you agree with most using a tool such as voteforpolicies.org.uk is vital. Deciding on the party you want to represent you or the one you least want to represent you in coalition discussions means looking at the balance of support in your local constituency. Who can win? Deciding who you would have confidence in as our Prime Minister and their Deputy means researching the leaders and not accepting media caricatures. We are the sixth largest economy in the world, with the fifth largest military budget and a nuclear power. Our decision matters.
There are three days left to register to vote. Don’t lose it. Registering takes no more than three minutes.
Vote on Thursday 7th May and cross your fingers that we’ll wake up on the 8th with politicians mature and flexible enough to create a sustainable government that governs in the interest of everyone especially our children’s economic, social and environmental inheritance.
Photo: Khairil Zhafri via Flickr