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And they're off

Nick Robinson | 22:00 UK time, Monday, 5 April 2010

At last.

The starting line and the finishing post are now both in sight.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick CleggTomorrow morning the prime minister will announce the date of the general election. I know you knew anyway but we can now say authoritatively for the first time what we've known for so long.

Polling day is to be Thursday 6 May.

So if we can't get excited about the date what is there to look forward to tomorrow? I will be listening hard for the pitches the party leaders make to the electorate.

Gordon Brown will, I'm told, dub this election "the big choice". In a speech in Downing Street tomorrow morning he's expected to say: "The people of this country have fought too hard to get Britain on the road to recovery to allow anybody to take us back on the road to recession." He's told tomorrow's Daily Mirror that the alternative is "too big a risk...too great a danger...too much of a threat".

At around the same time, the alternative - David Cameron - will use a speech of his own to claim that he's fighting this election for "the Great Ignored". To make sure he can't be accused of ignoring anyone, he will tell us that they are "young, old, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight". He will go on to argue that as "good, decent people...they just want a reason to believe that anything is still possible in our country. This election is about giving them that reason, giving them that hope".

Meantime the Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg will say: "Today is the beginning of the end for Gordon Brown" before presenting himself and his party as the source of "real change and real fairness".

So, that's clear then - which is more than can be said for the polls on the last night before the campaign kicks off. One - You Gov in the Sun - has the Tories crossing 40% for the first time in months and basking in a comfortable lead of 10%. The other - ICM in the Guardian - has their lead falling to 4% - a low not seen from this pollster for many months.

What that tells you is that we are in for most unpredictable, most dramatic and most exciting election in many years. I can't wait. (Shame I'm sniffling and sneezing at home drinking hot lemon to shake off a pre-campaign cold!)


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  • Comment number 1.

    Absolutely shameless that your blog has been closed all week-end, Nick, when all the other featured blogs in "DEMOCRACY LIVE" except BwB have been open to comment as usual.

    Is this the new pattern for the UK general election? I certainly hope not. And on the debate front, are you expecting a repeat of your 1995 Panorama days with Mr Dimbleby when Lab and the L-Ds took you to the Court of Session to prevent political bias being broadcast in Scotland?

  • Comment number 2.

    At last the end is nigh for Brown & Balls. Unfortunately they will go down kicking and screaming to the end, desperate to cling to power.

  • Comment number 3.

    Superb news.

    I have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to give my local expenses abusing MP a smack in the ballot box.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank goodness - it's been the longest campaign already! Time to have our say....finally!

  • Comment number 5.

    There are three polls tonight - why do you only mention two of them?

    Conservatives are also 10% ahead with Opinium in the Daily Express.

    So YouGov and Opinium both say 10% lead. ICM says 4%.

  • Comment number 6.

    Come on you British citizens who were once proud to be members of this once GREAT BRITAIN,please make this the end of Brown,Mandleson,Mr.& Mrs Balls,Shaw and the rest.Please make it so.

  • Comment number 7.

    Haven't you missed out a poll?

    Opinion - Express : 39: 29: 17?

  • Comment number 8.

    The Big issue is do you want to allow the expenses maximising Government that has destroyed our economy and workforce, or do you want something/anything else...

    This Government has been a disgrace with sleeze worse than ever seen, i think they are going to be murdered to such an extent they could be relegated to third place in parliament.

    I hope so anyway.....

  • Comment number 9.

    Hope your cold clears up soon, Nick.

    Yes the end of Broon and Balls leaves me feeling a little more optimistic about the future of the economy. Balls strikes me as a salivating sociopath intent on winning at any cost. I hope he trips up on a few well placed political banana skins. As for Broon, he's engineered the asset bubble, egged the banks on to ever riskier lending and will have to pay the price for his economic incompetence.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just over four weeks left! Still seems like a lifetime...

    Why's Gordon Brown announcing the election to the BBC though? Shouldn't he announce it to the country first and then have the media report on that afterwards?

    Anyway, the way I see it, irrespective of the partisan nonsense that infects everything, us voters have four choices:

    1) We can vote to maintain the status quo, and vote for the current ruling party to stay in power.
    2) We can vote against the status quo, and vote for the party most likely to dispossess the current ruling party from power.
    3) We can vote on a single issue, party, or candidate that we relate to, for our own personal reasons.
    4) We can protest vote to show our displeasure against the whole system.

    I've never been one for party politics, but for me the most important priority facing the country is option 2 - to free us from the hell of New Labour.

    This doesn't automatically make me a Tory. They don't fill me with confidence to be honest, it's just that they're the better option, given that another 5 years of Brown would destroy the country completely.

    I'd love to vote for an independent candidate, or one of the minor parties that as yet haven't been caught up in the corruption of Westminster, but I just can't take the chance of Labour getting back in.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hello Nicky! Here in my Smolensk butcher’s shop we are much bemusing at spectacles of British election. Yuri, my assistant, who is today make excellent horse livers sausage, is wonder why you not follow example of Vlad Putin’s managed democracy. It highly inefficient that opinion polls is close and you are possibly have well hung parliament. Here result is known in advance so no need even to vote. That is progress! We get on with run shop and earn extra from conceal firearms for local oligarch and protections boss Big Oleg.

    Approval ratings for your politicians is also big jokes! Putin is always have 90% plus ratings. But this probably because he so much more handsome than British leaders, and look like George Looney, only have less hair.

    Also Nicky, we full bemusal with your last postings about business peoples and writing letters about National Insurings.

    In Russia, business oligarchs is not use newspaper columns influence taxations policies. That is very silly and inefficient. No, here is three methods. In Duma, most MPs is have extensive business interests – in oil, in set up ladies in plush Amsterdam flats, or in provide protections. So they more likely tax things that not hurt them, like supertax on set up opposition party, for instance. In local politics, candidates is also small business peoples (for instance have still for make potato and beetroot moonshine), so no problems. And if someone get out of line, then third method is treat politician like Paul Daniels is treat lady in box and make problem disappear.

    Anyway your politics is mess. British debt mountain is plenty bigger than Russia’s. This is tribute to excellent fiscals leadership of glorious Vlad – he is hotter than Beyoncé – and great mineral wealth of Motherland. It also result of unique system of welfare privatisations. Sir Peter Gershon and Martin Reed is miss big picture. You can have big service with small state. Example. Here in Smolensk, I am struggle get new tooths for mother. Big Oleg, who is local oligarch and organise my protection, is get me new set for her, made from finest vulcanise rubbers, very cheap price. He is also provide home help for many babushkas – Fat Mikhail is protect Aunt Irina from local youths by sit outside flat all night with pit bull. Oleg provide Meal on Wheel service (Cousin Dmitri is bring housebound food on unicycle), and also local school, St Vladimir of the Kalashnikov. Here is great training ground join Oleg outfit, and Oleg need serious brainpowers, especially in creative accountancy and global finance.

    So advice for future British administrations is simple. Let state wither away and little platoons (heavily armed) is move in. Provide efficient local service. Cost in bloodshed minimal, debt collapse and IMF very happy. So Tories onto something with community organisings and local initiatives. But Sir Cameron is need think bigger than Women’s Institutes and selling jumbles. I get Big Oleg give him ring. You have mobile number Nicky?

  • Comment number 13.

    I always smile when I read or hear that phrase "The prime Minister is expected to say.....!" the translation is "I have been told by a Labour Party spin doctor this is what I must report!"

    I dare say we will now see an onslaught of half truths and lies over the next few weeks.

    What has not been mentioned is the comments to the NUT by Mark Serwotca PCS union Gen Sec who said that the Labour Government was the worst Government ever!! The Teachers then chanted “the workers, united, will never be defeated” !

    So this will be an interesting election.

  • Comment number 14.

    so much for the "no more politics through the media" brown statement.

    this government are promising everything to everyone, even today balls is offering taxpayer millions out via a union conference.

    ill be watching to see if "cordon" brown is confident enough in his record and policies to go face to face with the general public, or will he conduct his campaign in labour's supporters front rooms, via cosy tea party chats, and avoid facing the angry voter?

    prospective labour parliamentary candidates have been campaigning on the doorsteps for weeks - they are spinning the polls like there is no tomorrow, fingers crossed, for brown and most of his incompetants, there will be no tomorrow!

  • Comment number 15.

    How does Cameron count the rich among the "great ignored"?

  • Comment number 16.

    "The Big Choice" is whether we allow the person who got us into this mess to get us out.

    There is no big choice, there can only be one solution. Get rid of Brown and ZaNulabour.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nick, you write "Gordon Brown will, I'm told, dub this election "the big choice". "

    Surely "no brainer" would be more accurate!

    After all the damage Labour has done to our country, the economy and our freedom, it's time for them go.

  • Comment number 18.

    Excellent. May 6th cant come soon enough... time to teach both mainstream parties a lesson!

  • Comment number 19.

    Shameless, Nick

    Others have pointed out your glaring omission - three polls out tonight not two as you report. The third Opinium/Daily Express has Tories with a 10% lead. That makes your final two paragraphs redundant.

    Moreover you seem to imply that it is only with the end of the phoney war that the 'campaign ' begins - but didn't the election campaign begin a long while ago?

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick, with your current state of well-being, I think the most appropriate comment is

    Politicians - a plague on all their houses

  • Comment number 21.

    1000mg effervescent vitamin C Nick. Per day. Thou shalt.

  • Comment number 22.

    Surely "the great ignored" should refer to that huge great elephant standing in the corner of the room, which none of the three main parties seem willing to mention, let alone discuss, but which is one of the main concerns of the majority of the electorate. I am, of course, referring to the subject of immigration, bogus asylum seekers and illegal workers.

  • Comment number 23.

    You are joking. All the momentum is now with the Conservatives and in the 150 seats that really count that will be transformed into a majority government! Labour has killed this country and it will take a lot of hard work to revive us but I believe in the British people! We have seen adversity before but always ome through!

  • Comment number 24.

    What will be a shock result is if a Guardian poll actually turns out to be right. And at the moment that looks likely. It's almost enough to make me put a bet on a Conservative landslide.

  • Comment number 25.

    Haven't people yet learned that representative democracy does not work. We cast our voice once in four years and the politicians make hundreds of unpopular decision during their term.

    It's money lobbying that counts not the electorate.

  • Comment number 26.

    Please keep us up to date with the Shadow Home Sec's pearls of wisdom.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    Brown is already preparing for abject defeat ,his warning of doubledip ,likely in any eventuality ,is preparation for accusing the Tories of causing it if and when it happens.The Meglomaniac will protest his game of double or quits with fiat currency couldnt lose.

    Labours poster of Cameron with a quatro tells the public more about the Labour inherritance left to the Tories than Camerons ability to govern and has given the impression that Cameron was wise enough to keep his quatro despite 13 years of Laboriass scrappage scheming WHICH HAS UPPED THE PRICE OF USED CARS and dumped the bill onto the taxpayers.

  • Comment number 29.

    The thought of four weeks of Party leaders lying as hard as they can fills me with dread. The labour party won't tell the truth, it is too bad, the others can't promise anything and be sure they can carry it out, as they don't know the real facts.

    So four weeks of daily Gordon Brown and co suddenly becoming interested in we voters - actually, I never vote for any of them - is the height of hypocrisy. I will vote when we have the opportunity to put our cross for 'None of the above,' or 'abstain.' Then they could make voting compulsory.

    I will enjoy election night as the results come in though. Listening to politicians trying to explain away bad results is better than a comedy show.

  • Comment number 30.

    And of course the BBC will do their up most to not talk about UKIP. 3 main party are a joke and puppets of the EU. If UKIP doesn't win then DEMOCRACY has died in this election.
    Saying that when media will not have a fair TV debate with other party's like green peace and UKIP etc then it is not a DEMOCRACY!

    I living in the US and I so out raged what the 3 main party treating the public like there clueless people and using the media to hide the real party that fix the real problems of the UK..... the EU!

    I also like how you never said anything of the SNP and the welsh party too!

  • Comment number 31.

    I fail to see how anyone who has lived through the last decade and also the 80s will think that this election will change anything (whoever wins). There will be the same old lies, scandals, broken promises, and kowtowing to the real people in power - the multi-national companies.

    A big zzzzzzzzzzzzzz from me.

  • Comment number 32.

    As it looks more likely that Brown will lose, once again the question of changing the voting system crops up.

    It is now suggested that children should be given the vote.

    I would like to see the voting age increased, certainly not decreased.

    About 35 years of age would seem to be about right - after people have had some experience of real life and paying taxes.

  • Comment number 33.

    Both the main parties are poor options. I don't trust Cameron as far as I could throw him. In fact, I don't trust the LibDems either.

    I have no idea who to vote for. Sad state of affairs.

  • Comment number 34.

    Oh come on Nick!

    That 4% poll shouldn't be accorded any seriousness.

    You, as a seasoned hack, know it's the poll of polls that counts. Tories are pulling up on this strongly now.

    A little less journalistic jingo-ism, and a bit more of your wisdom, please.

  • Comment number 35.

    At last the broadcasting industry will be legally required to offer balanced coverage of politics. And the polling organisations will become more concerned with their reputation for accuracy than what their paying sponsors are asking them to find. I hope that this is the last election using an unfair voting system.

    The issue remains the same as it was 3 months ago. Change for the sake of it is still a weak argument. Unfortunately whatever Brown's failings Cameron continues to show that he is offering no alternative except to the extreme factions that pervade the BNP and UKIP. Clegg looks the part but is equally unconvincing.

    So as much as we need this election the options are very disappointing indeed. I think this election will be one in which we all need to vote for the most principled candidate and hope that he or she will stand up for what is right rather than follow the party line.

  • Comment number 36.

    32. At 00:45am on 06 Apr 2010, DistantTraveller wrote:

    I would like to see the voting age increased, certainly not decreased. About 35 years of age would seem to be about right - after people have had some experience of real life and paying taxes.

    Well given the poor alternative choices available to them, I suspect the under 35s would be happy to give up the right to vote in return for the right not to pay taxes to support such a system.

  • Comment number 37.

    A word on the polls - even with a lead of 10%, that still means the Tories might, repeat MIGHT, get a working majority of about 20 seats if the marginals are kind to them.

    If labour were to win by 10%, they would have a majority of well over 100 seats.

    Isn't it time that the imbalance built into our so-called democracy was ironed out?

  • Comment number 38.

    Now the danger is that,Gordon,having destroyed the left,will be out and Cameron will destroy the right,with his,barely thought out plans..Or worse,there might be a coalition government,with Nutty Nick as arbitrator between right and left.Just hours to go before we know how much we are in the brown stuff and how deep...Whether its more of Chairman Brown or a switch to Fuhrer Cameron.Both are seriously dangerous for our health..extremism is on the rise in Britain..and no wonder..What a mess..Neither "new" labour or the conservatives have the right people turn to others who might seem to be willing to act on the issues uppermost in peoples minds..This is when the fascists and communists slug it out for the votes missed by the conservatives and labour.They will pull out all the stops to garner support for their extremist views,not an easy election for anyone...Scary in fact....

  • Comment number 39.

    37 Grawth - can you iron out imbalances, or is that one of those football commentaterisms? I'm not sure.
    The figures you have given aren't directly comparable because of the nature of the maths, as far as I know. Is there a ref. to them?

  • Comment number 40.

    #36 Tony Geao

    "I suspect the under 35s would be happy to give up the right to vote in return for the right not to pay taxes to support such a system."

    Obviously paying income tax is not a prerequisite for being allowed to vote. We don't disenfranchise people who are on benefits or don't pay income tax for other legitimate reasons.

    But school children or students are unlikely to be as bothered about a government of 'tax-and-waste' as the grown-ups who are working in the real world and paying the nation's bills.

    People need experience of real life in order to make an informed choice at the ballot box.

    That would rule out giving children the vote.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm going to comment on blog-1.
    You said "try telling a redundant IT worker or someone in finance that their job loss is an "efficiency saving""
    Well as most IT workers are visiting Indian nationals and most British national IT workers are struggling to find work (particularly the over-50s who built the current setup and understand it), this may not be a big deal.

  • Comment number 42.

    I dont need an election campaign to listen to the lies from all political parties I know who I am going to vote for and it isnt any of the main parties or the SNP it will most likely be UKIP or the BNP

  • Comment number 43.

    38 DT Well somebody else suggested that there shouldn't be an election because it just upsets everyone, people arguing and all that. So much so that you find it scary. There are some people who actually enjoy the election and find it a jolly exciting time; most are interested, the turnout is usually about 70%, hardly apathy; and not a bodyguard to be seen. Are you going to hide until it's all over? Even children take an interest in it and they can't even vote, though some schools have their own mock election. I wonder if prisoners would be allowed to do that? 'Vote Grouty' Why not?

  • Comment number 44.

    If this is the case, and I do not doubt it, then Gordon Brown has reduced UK standing in the world by not attending the Nuclear Summit in USA next week - the largest gathering of world leaders on this subject since 1945.

  • Comment number 45.

    ...and I wonder if they do that in Buckingham Palace too, a mock election, as they don't get the vote, and do the staff join in and 'stand for election'?

  • Comment number 46.

    The central issue is going to be which party do you trust with the economy. Dave and the Tories have surely disqualified themselves with house-flipping, dodgy donation discussing George Osborne...

  • Comment number 47.

    Brown leaks the news to the BBC before he's told Parliament, the electorate, or the queen. Whatever happened to making a decision, and then announcing it? Why the need to leak everything 24 hours before you announce it? It makes a complete mockery of Parliament and the democratic process.

    "The people of this country have fought too hard to get Britain on the road to recovery to allow anybody to take us back on the road to recession... the alternative is too big a risk ..too great a danger. ..too much of a threat"

    Yes, if Brown had his way there wouldn't be an election at all; he'd use anti-terrorist legislation to suspend democracy. Luckily that won't happen because after the way he's treated the army, his suspension of democracy would lead to tanks being driven into downing street and him being physically ousted by a group of very very angry squaddies, happily assisted by a huge crowd of the electorate.

    To me it's a no-brainer; either we choose a compulsive liar who's completely destroyed the economy and smeared everyone who got in his way (including people who were willing to die for their country, and charities), or we let someone else have a go and hope for the best.

    Well, I vote for hope, whoever that may be; all I know is that a vote for hope is *NOT* going to be a vote for labour; there is absolutely no hope for/with labour.

  • Comment number 48.


    Finally, after all of the many hours of reading your lovely blog, that the "news" is coming...Regarding the NEXT general election is in the nearby future...As, per policy: I am not advocating and or associated with any political party in the United Kingdom...

    (NB: Regarding your health, I hope that you feel better real soon...Drink lots of tea)

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 49.

    Well at least someone on the Guradian's Jobs advertisement team has a sense of humour.
    Check out Govcernment Jobs.
    Most attractive vacancy? PRIME MINISTER, SWI.
    With a nice footnote that "Previous applicants need not apply"...

    In 1997, even though the economic framework had been laid for genuine improvement in the UK's position, the voters wanted a change.

    In 2010, after the government had encouraged us all to borrow to the brink of national bankruptcy (and set the example), the voters need a change.

    Brown blames the "crisis that started in the USA".
    I can't recall any US politician telling him he should borrow much more that he had too (in times when tax-take had never been higher) or to ramp up massive PFI/PPP future re-payments.

    Brown (not the nasty Tories) used his friends in the City to prop up a failing organisation. It was a very personal contact with LloydsTSB, who eithe failed to perform proper due-diligence or misled their shareholders about what they found.

    (I'm not going to wait with bated breath - but I'd like public enquiries - or better still legal challenges - over the way banks operated when they were effectively broke...
    Would still like to understand exactly how bad the RBS situation was when they hoovered up 10Billion from share-holders in a rights issue...)

    For sure we need a renewal in the private sector and some significant slow down in public spending. It's a question of whether anyone can believe Brown could genuinely deliver that change. I don't.

  • Comment number 50.

    What a relief ! I saw this job posted on the Guardian jobs website as an April 1st spoof by a recriutment company called "Guru". Perhaps Guru knew something we didn't !

    Are you a Senior Minister / MP looking for that step up? Do you want to take up a highly influential position in the British Government and rub noses with World Leaders, Monarchs, Celebrities and the like? Read on...

    Reporting directly to the Queen, the Prime Minister will be at the very forefront of decision making in the UK, making new laws, setting taxes and attending debates all whilst keeping good relations with other parliamentary members. In more detail you will...
    • Liaise regularly with cabinet ministers to exchange views and ideas.
    • Be accountable for the overall British Economy.
    • Modernise long standing British institutions like the NHS, Police Force etc.
    • Amend policies and promises at short notice to suit you and your party.
    • Work closely with Journalists to ensure brilliant PR.

    We want to hear from highly organised, energetic and motivated Ministers with a distinct ability to remain unflappable even in the most demanding situations i.e. a Jeremy Paxman interview. You must also be an upstanding citizen with an exemplary educational background from a Red Brick University and a personality of national acceptance.

    It is not essential that you possess previous PM experience as on the job training is offered, however you must demonstrate a previous background in Parliament as a Minister, Speaker, Lobbyist or similar. Ultimately, we are looking for a parliamentary heavyweight capable of communicating at all levels with a unique ability to put positive spin on even the most dire scenarios, therefore experience of being economical with the truth is an absolute must.

    Joining a relaxed and enjoyable working environment, our client invests heavily in staff development with great benefits to match, including: Great working conditions, an excellent office location, extensive benefits (8 Bed House, Personal expenses, Free Transport, 2nd home + Furnishings.) and excellent remuneration. Get in touch...
    * Previous applicants need not apply.

    [Guru are an employment business renowned for delivering careers networking and in this instance Guru are managing the selection process for this particular Prime Minister campaign on the behalf of our client. We offer a transparent service to both clients and candidates which means that if you pass our initial filtering criteria]

  • Comment number 51.

    15. At 11:06pm on 05 Apr 2010, lions after slumber wrote:

    How does Cameron count the rich among the "great ignored"?

    He obviously doesn't think they are rich enough.

  • Comment number 52.

    Whoever wins will win for a negative reason. That's a very toxic foundation to a new government.

    If Brown wins, then it will be because people believe his claims that he is only one who can get us out of the mess that's been made, not because people really wanted more Labour rule.

    If Cameron wins (which he so obviously will, there's hardly any suspense about it - the question is not "if" but "how convincingly")) it will be because so many people didn't want more of Labour rather than because they wanted a Cameron government.

    If the lib-dems end up holding the balance of power, which is a strong possibility, then it will be - at least in part - because people wanted a genuine change of the guard, and possibly wanted Vince Cable for chancellor, but knew that could not be.

    None of these are strong or good reasons for victory, and that rotten foundation could easily eat away at the next parliament. That would make it rancorous and dysfunctional - further undermining the British people's trust in it, which is already at a new low.

    UKIP? No thanks: To me UKIP seems like an uneasy coalition of the xenophobic, the moneylenders (bank rolling the party because they don't want the Euro, as they'd lose their grip on being the only source of pounds to lend), rabid nationalists, and the fearful. Having looked at UKIP's policies they seem predominantly negative, lots of things they want to undo, but not as much they actually want to do.

    Alan T
    (P.S> Nick, I've got a cold too: Have we met?)

  • Comment number 53.

    #22. tacrepus:

    Surely "the great ignored" should refer to that huge great elephant standing in the corner of the room, which none of the three main parties seem willing to mention, let alone discuss, but which is one of the main concerns of the majority of the electorate. I am, of course, referring to the subject of immigration, bogus asylum seekers and illegal workers.

    Have you been in an NHS hospital recently? I have, and without all the immigrants who work there as cleaners, nurses, consultants, etc., they would close tomorrow.

  • Comment number 54.

    Even if the earlier debate on who would cut exactly what, exactly when, was tedious, the National Insurance debate has sorted out the much more important issues of underlying philosophy.

    Labour are the party of the Big State, of heavy public sector spending and higher taxation.

    The LibDems sided with Labour and thereby showed their underlying left-wing nature. The LibDem stance is not only unsuited in isolation to the country's present situation; their natural affiliation with Labour suggests a high risk, if people vote yellow, of getting more Brown - via a hung parliament .

    The Conservatives are the party of the Private Sector, with more careful use of taxpayer funds and lower taxation.

    I believe we stand a good chance of emerging from our debt problem if we BOTH nurture the private sector AND trim the pubic sector ie the Conservatives are the party with the philosophy required for the present situation.

    Let's fire up the Quattro. Its time for a change of Government.

  • Comment number 55.

    I would be extremely surprised if Gordon Brown got in. Any competent government with its eye on the ball would have acted more prudently and more proactively to ensure that a financial crisis did not occur.

    Having said that possible replacements are thin on the ground and despite the Conservative lead in the polls many voters have reservations about them particularly with George Osborne as chancellor.The Lib-Dems have been feisty under Nick Clegg but their best asset is still Vince Cable.

    The most likely outcome would appear to be a hung parliament, with the Conservatives having a larger share of the seats,which on reflection might be the best option bringing a bit of political consensus to the House Of Commons. This will hopefully only allow issues which all agree on to pass into legislation.For once politicians might be singing from the same hymn sheet and we can actually get something positive done.

  • Comment number 56.

    The really depressing thing is that - looking at these blogs

    1) Lots of people want Brown out - blaming him for all our problems
    2) Lots of people don't really show much confidence in the Tory Party, but feel they have little alternative but to vote for them in order to achieve (1)

    Isn't that an indication that our political system has failed us?

    I doubt if the present parties would have tolerated Barabara Cartland, Tony Benn, Enoch Powell or even Maggie because even if we didn't agree with them, they made us look at ourselves and form opinions. The present parties are so full of appeasement that nothing ever gets discussed or thought about.

    The reality is that the parties are all so close together it doesn't really matter who wins.

    PS note for bloggers on this site:
    Bias detection is very difficult as everyone thinks of their position is closer to that mythical centre than it really is

  • Comment number 57.

    BTW: I think the Digital Economy Bill will be a surprisingly important issue at this election. If it's rushed through into law before the election there'll be votes in promising to scrap or amend it, if not, there'll be votes in promising to drop it.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 58.

    Nick good piece,

    a question we have to ask is how long will we continue to see your blogs on the bbc website and how long we will see the bbc.

    The extreme right and the defenders of rich vested interests don't want unbiased reporting so the BBC will not last long.

    Then all we will get is what news international says we can know - then all the tory boys who regularly flood this site with their odious bile will return to their stunted lives and shrivelled humanity.

  • Comment number 59.

    #56 - Oh it does matter who wins.

    Although they are roughly carbon copies of each other in the dogma department, we have had 13 years of lies, spin and manipulated half truths.

    The choice is simple - a Socialist government intent on driving people apart, hate the rich and ruin the poor. The death of aspiration, ambition and the destruction of democracy for good.

    Or a Tory government that favours wealth, opportunity and success but at least has grown up to the fact that suppressed workers = reduced productivity.

    There will always be die hard fanatics who manage to taint the water, but at least in the present Tories you don't have a major initiative to destroy the English, remove all power from the people, touch your toes to the European union and slap a new tax on the poor to pay for minority pledges.

    I stopped believing anything this Governemnt told me 5 years ago.

    This election can only be decided if everyone uses their right to vote.

    I would remind people of suspicious activities concerning postal voting in the past and the disturbing actions of the Labour party in minority regions where they laid on buses for certain communities so that they could vote Labour.

    What level of corruption would need to be achieved before people finally throw them out?

  • Comment number 60.

    I think the key to this election will be the GDP figures for Jan-Mar 2010 which ought to be released in the last few days of April, although I guess Brown could stop their publication if they are unfavourable to him.

    If we are back in recession, possibly as a result of the increase in VAT Brown imposed and the ending of car scrappage, then I think Brown is toast because his economic policies simply haven't worked in terms of preventing a double dip recession.

    If however we have 1% plus growth, then Brown will win albeit by a margin of 1 or 2 MPs. It'll still be a hung parliament though, as there are usually 10 labour rebels on any piece of legislation, so look for Brown to buy votes from SNP/Plaid.

  • Comment number 61.

    4 weeks is a very long time to stand up against torture.

    Especially since we have been "softened up" for so long.

    I am pleased that the prospect is so thrilling for some. I must confess that I am left horrified by the vanities and unprincipled egotism of politicians.

    We are sitting atop what is possibly the biggest pile of emperors clothes lying on top of a flatulent elephant in the corner of an opulent room - and journalists and politicians discuss hung parliaments and so on and blah and etc.

    Brown is praying that the distraction of a global pandemic on the health of the economy followed by an "it ain't so bad now" attempt to suggest it was their good management what-won-it is going to distract us from the "war". (What war? Oh, that wars..)

    And our alternatives? Lord, help us all. Save us all from mediocrity and wishy washy politicians cowering and throwing knee-jerk policy at the feet of media commentators in a bid to be beautiful to everyone.

    I am going to have a holiday.

  • Comment number 62.

    So, Robin, a big big day for you – and for the Tory bloggers generally. They’ve “called an election”. The election is called. Has it lived up to expectations? Are the bells ringing? The birds singing? The balls pinging? Is everything just that little bit brighter – more vivid – this morning? One thing I think we can say with no fear of contradiction, this rather gives the lie to all the “Bottler Brown” nonsense, doesn’t it? He’s thrown caution to the winds and gone early. Let’s see if his courage pays dividends. I’m not so sure it will.

  • Comment number 63.

    #58 Blancedthought

    Said: 'Then all we will get is what news international says we can know - then all the tory boys who regularly flood this site with their odious bile will return to their stunted lives and shrivelled humanity. '

    For odious bile read - fed up to the back teeth with the corruption and damage that has been inflicted on our country and if for stunted lives and shrivelled humanity you mean the erosion of freedoms and liberties that we have had to endure under Labour then I agree.

  • Comment number 64.

    Very distressing to see you perpetuating statistical misconceptions on Breakfast this morning, with your claim that a 3% margin of error on the polls represents a 6% margin of error on the figure given for the lead. Errors add in quadrature, so a 3% error on each number going into the subtraction sum gives you a 4.2% error.

    Putting it another way, the margin of error on the polls is for the 95% confidence level. So there's a 5% chance of each number being outside the +/- 3% range of the number given, and only a 2.5% chance for each number that it's out in the right direction to give a particular change in the lead. That means there's only a 0.625% chance that YouGov's poll is "really" showing a 4% lead, or that ICM's is "really" showing a 10% lead.

    (This is all an oversimplification to some extent, because it's based on the assumption that the errors are normally distributed and uncorrelated. But it's closer to the real picture than the stuff you were saying this morning, which just encourages supporters on all sides to cherrypick the results they like best rather than be honest about the real situation.)

  • Comment number 65.


    "and they're off"

    I agree, with the stench arising from the main parties campaigning thus far I agree that they are most definitely off.

  • Comment number 66.

    I wonder if David Cameron realises the irony of his speech lines? -

    "young, old, rich, poor, black, white, gay, straight"

    Out of that list, he seems to have listed everyone that actually isn't ignored, and missed the group that really is. The young get subsidised learning, tax credits, free training schemes, help finding jobs, the old get pensions, reduced costs of some things (gas, TV license) and many other benefits, between them they have a new swathe of ageism laws to protect them. The rich are far from ignored, they often just get off lightly. The poor are constantly receiving new benefits, new schemes, and the other groups listed all have countless equality laws and schemes implemented to protect them.

    So tell me, why is the grouping of no longer young, but not yet old, middle income individuals or couples with no kids absent from his list? The grouping that is truly ignored, because it contributes heavily to the tax system, but receives only the bare minimum? There are no tax credits for these people, no benefits, no protection.

    Why has Cameron added everyone who isn't ignored to his list and missed the one grouping that truly is? The grouping that actually, you know, contributes the majority of effort and money to the country in proportion to how much they take back out.

    Far from the great ignored, it sounds like Cameron is just planning business as usual.

    Of course, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't go for Labour either because they've demonstrated quite well under Brown their level of incompetence.

  • Comment number 67.

    Can it more than circumstantial that the YouGov numbers have suddenly begun to sow a double digit lead again for the tories? This happened within days of the Telegraph asking YouGov to answer a number of questions relating to their 'sampling' of data...

    Put another way; YouGov can decide to 'sample' the data howsoever they like. In other words you may reply tyhat you are going to vote tory or newlabour but YouGov make a decision on your behalf that your response needs to be 'altered' to reflect the demographics. Just a normal statistical proceedure they will say; but rather suspicious given that YouGov showed an evaporation in the tory lead.

    Suddenly, when asked a series of questions about 'sampling' .. the tory lead pops straight back up to double digits without so much as a 'by your leave'.

    So was the YouGov data beginning top embarrass newlabour and Lady Ashton.. the wife of the YouGov founder. After all, YouGov correctly predicted the London Mayoralty and the 1997 election and was specifically set up to provide a more accurate 'sampling' analysis after all the polls failed to predict John Major's win in 1992.

    So was the tory 'wobble' more of a sampling wobble than a real wobble? Was the wobble an attempt to destabilise the tory procession to victory? Whatever it was - and we may never find out - it does not appear to have worked.

    In much the same way as sagamix and his newlabour apologist attack dog chums have failed to come up with a single coherent argument for re-electing Brown; YouGov poll moves have failed to derail the tory advance on Downing Street.

    Even more exciting is the deficit bear pit that Alistair Darling ahs walked straight into. What a superb plan by the tories; to shout long enough and loud enough about the deficit to cause all three parties to keep quiet about investment versus cuts and concentrate on a deficit reduction strategy. How that must have gone down like a lead balloon with the deficit denyers (the flat earthers ont he deficit) - to put the deficit reductioin right at the top of the three parties agendas.. then whoops, it was only a bluff says Osborne; let's start cutting taxes.

    Newlabour out-foxed by their own tactics..(but then they don't like hunting do they?)

    Tally ho the election! Call me old fashioned.

  • Comment number 68.

    Get Well Soon, Nick!
    I'm pleased to hear that the election is unpredictable. I wouldnt like to live in a country for long where it was :-)

  • Comment number 69.

    distant traveller,

    "People need experience of real life in order to make an informed choice at the ballot box."

    This is one of those sentiments – more common than you’d think - which sounds right but is actually wrong. “Real World” experience is a tremendous handicap to political judgement and thus the lowering of the voting age to sweet sixteen would improve the overall quality of the electorate in this respect. Why is this? The answer, you won’t be shocked to hear, lies in Human Nature. The more of this much vaunted RWE a person has, the more false weight they tend to give it and in extremis (and the extreme is the norm in this case, unfortunately) their politics becomes pretty much based on their own life story. People’s life story has tremendous meaning to themselves of course, it is themselves, but it’s a shaky and deeply inadequate foundation on which to construct a political view. Unless accompanied by a fierce and questioning intelligence and a lack of ego – and I do mean BOTH of these things – then a political outlook based on direct life experience will be of very limited value to anyone bar the proponent. All the RWE junkies are usually doing is seeking reinforcement of their own narrow minded prejudice. They’re very often Conservative supporters.

  • Comment number 70.

    Roll on May 6. I've got a big cross and I know where its going. Lots of other people have exactly the same view.

    What I'm really looking forward to is election night, and the faces on Labour politicians as the results unfold.

  • Comment number 71.

    #62 sagamix

    Morning, saga - can't recall if May 6th was your prediction or not but I wish I'd put the £5 on it I was going to a long while back, I might have been able to buy half a tank of petrol with my winnings! :)

    Not sure if this announcement puts paid to the "Bottler" thing though - calling it for May 6th instead of June 3rd isn't so much of a stretch. Strikes me that it just means he's kind of like he's a guy who'd jump from the window of a burning building before the flames got to him shortly afterwards.

    Should make for an interesting campaign though, I'm looking forward to picking out the odd nugget of truth behind all the mud-slinging and spin we're all going to be subjected to over the next four weeks.

    I'm curious, who do we think will be the first to take the mud-slinging too far?

    My money's on Balls, Mandleson, or Ken Clarke!

  • Comment number 72.

    "40. At 02:08am on 06 Apr 2010, DistantTraveller wrote:

    But school children or students are unlikely to be as bothered about a government of 'tax-and-waste' as the grown-ups who are working in the real world and paying the nation's bills.

    People need experience of real life in order to make an informed choice at the ballot box.

    That would rule out giving children the vote."

    Not everyone under the age of 35 is a schoolchild or a student. At 25 I have currently been working full time since the age of 18 and part time for 2 years before that. Thanks to the current government it is my generation that are unable to get into the housing market due to the ridiculously over inflated prices. It is my generation who are having to take out private pensions or risk not having one at all or working until we are 80 in order to survive. Please do not assume that only those over the age of 35 have an interest in how this country is run, as we will be the ones left to pick up the pieces in years to come.

  • Comment number 73.

    69 sagamix ...

    talking to yourself as usual. Keep it up. We need more of newlabour talking to themselves and not the people who elected them. You must be taking lessons from Lord Mandleson who has gone into hyperspace with his self regarding hyperbole.

    Call me old fashioned. Tally ho the election!

  • Comment number 74.

    At last! (Unless, of course, HM does the unimaginable and tells Gordon to soldier on until June 3rd!).

    So I am now looking forward to four weeks of discussion on this blog. Hopefully. Discussion, not rant - like Robin, call me old-fashioned!

    And if your cold doesn't get better soon, Nick, can we have Laura back?

  • Comment number 75.

    62 sagamix

    "One thing I think we can say with no fear of contradiction, this rather gives the lie to all the “Bottler Brown” nonsense, doesn’t it? He’s thrown caution to the winds and gone early. "

    You've got your pre-election wind ups off to a cracking start here. Calling an election on 6 May as opposed to the drop dead date of 3 June, is hardly an act of courage by anyone standards. He has simply ran out of time, and he can "bottle" and dither no longer. Not a courageous decision by him, or actually a decision of any kind from him. He is simply out of time, events have taken the decision out of his hands.

    He's out of ideas, out of time and hopefully soon he'll be out of office.

  • Comment number 76.

    About time.

    Sooner the removal men get the Monocular Megalomaniac out of Downing St the better. Cant come a day too soon, he was never meant to be in there in the first place.

  • Comment number 77.

    He can't get out of calling an election , can he ? He may even be allowed to appear in public now , if the politbureau allow it. It's just a pity he will not yet admit that he destroyed the economy and doesn't have a clue how to fix it.

  • Comment number 78.

    ENOUGH WITH THE POLLS ALREADY!! Aaagh!! What is the point of these constant surveys, polls and other assorted rubbish? There must have been thousands of them over the last 20 years or so, each with thousands of 'pollees' so statistically I should have been asked, or at least somebody I know. But nobody's ever asked me a 'poll question', and nobody I know has been asked either. So who are all these people that have been surveyed? And as far as I know, the question they ask is 'Who would you vote for if the Election were today/tomorrow?' So apart from one day every 4-5 years, by which time everyone's mind is already made up and it's too late, the question is irrelevant. Polls do not influence the way I'm going to vote - nor anyone else with a whole brain. The results differ so wildly (as has been shown above) that their credibility must be highly questionable, yet these unreliable 'surveys' are used by you journos to back up the most spurious of claims. You couldn't make it up. Or maybe they could, and do.

  • Comment number 79.

    " 62. At 08:39am on 06 Apr 2010, sagamix wrote:
    So, Robin, a big big day for you – and for the Tory bloggers generally. They’ve “called an election”. The election is called. Has it lived up to expectations? Are the bells ringing? The birds singing? The balls pinging?"

    This post made me chuckle Sagamix - mostly at the thought of what the dilemna poor Robin will have when signing off his posts :)


  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    What happens if the Queen is not in, or not ready to receive him at Bucks House when Brown comes a calling?

  • Comment number 82.

    "What I'm really looking forward to is election night, and the faces on Labour politicians as the results unfold."

    Quite right - excellent TV viewing ahead


  • Comment number 83.

    "RobertLL wrote:
    Please keep us up to date with the Shadow Home Sec's pearls of wisdom."

    I do actually see his point - there is a difference between a hotel and a bed and breakfast. I think that B&Bs should be allowed to discriminate by sexuality, religion, race etc. in fact they should be forced to state it on any promotional material. So those of us who aren't bigots know to avoid them.

  • Comment number 84.

    #62 saga

    You write: "One thing I think we can say with no fear of contradiction, this rather gives the lie to all the “Bottler Brown” nonsense, doesn’t it? He’s thrown caution to the winds and gone early."

    Nice try saga, but that is not correct! According to the The Times over the last 100 years, it's only happened twice in peacetime that a government has sat as long as this one.

    Far from going 'early' as you say, Brown has desperately clung to office in the vain hope that the opinion polls will swing in his favour.

    The fact is, he has no mandate, no courage, no ideas. He must go.

  • Comment number 85.

    Peaking a bit early there at 67, Robin, don’t you think? ... your bells really are ringing, aren’t they? ... balls clearly are pinging! Leaving yourself with nowhere to go. Day one of a long and arduous campaign with much in store for us all. Will Tiger Woods be larging it having parred the opening hole at Augusta on Thursday? Hardly think so. And you’re way off beam on the tax point in any case. It’s time to face fax on tax; to recognise that decent public services free (to all) at the point of delivery have to be paid for via an equally decent level of taxation. Can’t have the first without the second. Can’t wolf your piece of cake now AND save it for later. Not possible. The Conservatives can pretend it is, but it’s the cheapest and sleaziest of three card tricks. Time for the public to engage brain and grow up. Our politics will improve no end if we do.

  • Comment number 86.

    So, as the Beeb described it this morning, the phoney war is soon to be over and the campaign is due to start for real. I note that the usual Labour spammers are currently just irritating one line flea bites prior to getting the Whelan breifing.... wonder how long its going to be until we get the Vic and Mike show back again?

  • Comment number 87.

    "sagamix wrote:

    One thing I think we can say with no fear of contradiction, this rather gives the lie to all the “Bottler Brown” nonsense, doesn’t it? He’s thrown caution to the winds and gone early. Let’s see if his courage pays dividends. I’m not so sure it will."

    I know that you think you are infallible (still think the election will be in June?) but your point doesn't stand up - just because Brown called an election before he had to (wow - a full month such bravery!) it doesn't mean that he was brave to do so. Brown really didn't have much choice - if he had of called a later election after all the hype surrounding May the 6th it would back up the accusations of him being a bottler.

    Brown didn't really have any choice in the matter - if he failed to call the election he would be accused of being a coward after seeing the Tories increasing their lead in the polls.

    Making a decision because you don't really have any alternatives doesn't make you brave. This isn't bravery this is acceptance.

  • Comment number 88.

    I hope that when the votes are counted England is counted separately. Then we will have a better idea of what the voters want on Health, Education, Transport and the Police in England.

    In Scotland that power has been devolved to the Scottish Assembly.

  • Comment number 89.

    I feel I have to say that if, in fact, Nick you have been told that the election will be called today before all the "official" steps have been taken, then it speaks volumes about Brown's statement, when he achieved leadership of the Labour government, that he would do things differently to his predecessor.

    Sums it all up. He can't be trusted. He's proved it time and time again during the past 13 years of Labour misrule. Now he's run out of time and excuses.

  • Comment number 90.


    Your title to this piece `and they're off' reminds me of dear old Spike Milligna, the well-know typing error who responded to that phrase with `whoopee, what again?'

  • Comment number 91.

    At last.

    Just one question: how do you know? Did I miss some official announcement of the election? All seems a bit strange that this story suddenly appears in the news as established fact without any word of sources.

    Not that I'm doubting the truth of it, you understand, but I think there is something fishy that the announcement seems to have come through some seedy back channels.

  • Comment number 92.

    Taxi for Brown...

  • Comment number 93.


    "having your own head surgically pinned inside your own colon gives you a much better understanding of the things that affect real people, doesn't it Saga?"

    Ah Bill, one of the “Great Unwashed” ... sorry, the "Great Ignored". Yes indeedy. And let’s keep it that way, shall we?

  • Comment number 94.

    According to an interview in The Times, Mandelson tells us “It is a choice between granite and plastic — between Brown who has been tested and Cameron who is untested"

    It's important to realise that Brown has indeed been tested - and failed miserably. No more 'Boom and Bust'? What a joke!

    All those people who (wrongly) say all our economic woes are down to the USA presumably think it doesn't really matter who is Prime Minister as it doesn't make any difference. But it does make a difference! Brown has plunged this country into unprecedented debt and poured weedkiller on any possible 'green shoots' of recovery.

    If a person is drowning, they need a lifebelt, not a boulder made of granite!

  • Comment number 95.

    I don't get why so many contributors think that Labour is responsible for the banking crisis - it's not as if the Tories saw it coming, and its not as if Britain has been hit in isolation, is it? Seems like people just want someone to blame or are just reflecting their political prejudice. How lame is that?

    Fact is, big business runs the show - 'democracy' is paper thin.

    And I am, even then, disenfranchised with no socialist candidate to support (I don't count Labour as socialist, at least in my constituency, Eastleigh).

  • Comment number 96.

    #69 Sagamix

    "“Real World” experience is a tremendous handicap to political judgement"

    So that explains Gordon Brown's lack of political judgement when compared to the inexperienced David Cameron?

    Thank you for the clarification

  • Comment number 97.

    mark WE,

    "Brown really didn't have much choice - if he had of called a later election after all the hype surrounding May the 6th it would back up the accusations of him being a bottler."

    Not so. Every fibre in his being cried out for June 3rd. Only reason he's going on May 6th is local elections - save the public the hassle of trooping to the polls twice within a month. Measure of the man.

  • Comment number 98.

    To Skynine - not all of us in Scotland want or need Independence. And by the way this is a UK Election!!

  • Comment number 99.


    "I think that B&Bs should be allowed to discriminate by sexuality, religion, race etc. in fact they should be forced to state it on any promotional material. So those of us who aren't bigots know to avoid them."

    Nice one, Mark! ... a SoH is all the more powerful when employed sparingly.

  • Comment number 100.

    Hopefully at the end of the day, this election will eradicate the deception, scandal around politicians and focus on the key policies that each party morally beleive in to build a stronger economy again and raise standard of living.
    It is also important that those policies that we actually vote on are actually implemented and no more rabbits are coming out of the hat!


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