Blog Posts by Alex Stevenson

  • QUIZ! Which UK Prime Minister Are You?

    Take our test to see which UK political leader you'd be most like if you ever find yourself in No. 10

    The UK general election is just weeks away, and on May 8 we'll know exactly who'll be leading country.

    But which leader, past or present, would you most be like if you were given the keys to 10 Downing Street?

    Once you've taken our quiz, don't forget you can get the latest from the campaign trail with our general election live blog.

  • Miliband is now most likely to be next prime minister

    It all comes down to numbers. Try playing the BBC’s majority-builder game, which offers some likely scenarios and gives you the chance to work out plausible governments. More often than not you’re likely to find the Conservatives fall short, even with Lib Dem and DUP support. Labour is often relying on either the SNP and/or the Lib Dems to get into power.

    That reflects the balance of probabilities as assessed by the Political Studies Association, a group of unspeakably clever academics who suggest the most likely scenario is bad news for Cameron.  "The single most likely outcome is at the bottom of the pie chart,“ says Dr Stephen Fisher of the University of Oxford. "That is a seriously hung parliament with the Conservatives as clearly the largest party but a majority on the left, including the SNP and Liberal Democrats.”

    His findings are supported by the academics at, which give the Conservatives a mean 284 seats, compared to 276 for Labour, 25 for the Liberal

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  • The 2015 campaign has reached its watershed moment

    Midway through the general election campaign, both Labour and the Conservatives are changing their tactics – and it’s a triumph for voters.

    “I’m not going to talk about anything other than winning an overall majority,” David Cameron rather steadfastly insisted on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show this morning. His actions - and those of Labour this week - suggest the alternative is exactly what both the Conservatives and Labour are focusing on.

    Back in 2010 the British electorate delivered an equivocal verdict on David Cameron and Gordon Brown’s parties. Neither were really trusted enough to rule by themselves. Voters set up a scenario where both would have to act more cautiously and carefully. Whichever ended up in power, the Tories or Labour would have to behave differently.

    In the event, not that much did change. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats’ staunch embrace of power the resulting coalition felt more like business as usual than anyone could have anticipated. That experience has defined

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  • Vote-swapping: A new way to kick the Tories out of power

    In ordinary circumstances votes, like wives, are not casually swapped around. But that appears to be changing in 2015, as a group of determinedly anti-Tory activists encourage left-leaning types to switch sides.

    The basic idea behind VoteSwap relies on the old principle of tactical voting: that voters could be persuaded to choose a party other than the one they support in order to stop their political enemy from winning.

    Normally this is a straightforward, somewhat grubby process. It is not especially healthy. It is a perversion of the democratic system. But it has the promise of being effective in preventing the hated alternative from triumphing. In Scotland, such is the enmity provoked by the SNP surge that unionists are fostering a frenzy of tactical voting ahead of May 7th.

    The prospects in England are more limited. But on the left of British politics the enemy is clear enough.

    Stopping David Cameron from spending the coming years in No 10 via tactical voting is a tough ask, though. As

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  • The most embarrassing election leaflets of 2015

    As campaigning steps up another gear, voters are starting to come across election leaflets – and using social media to mock them.Even the slightest slip-up attracts derision. And some candidates don’t appreciate it when their leaflets start attracting attention for the wrong reasons.


    If a little typo like that one gets a leaflet on TV, a major howler like this from Labour couldn’t possibly hope to escape criticism.


    Sometimes errors result in rather embarrassing climbdowns…


    … and sometimes candidates resort to slightly odd methods to correct them.


    But leaflets don’t need to contain errors to get noticed. Simply featuring someone who’s very much not on your side can be a little unfortunate.


    There’s a bit of a theme in this election of candidates studiously failing to publicise who their leader is. Especially if that leader is Nick Clegg.


    Dan Rogerson, another Lib Dem incumbent, goes even further in his literature by barely mentioning his party:


    … And it’s not just the Lib Dems who are at

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  • Here's what the Queen has to say about Cameron's hung parliament plans

    Scene: A drawing room at Buckingham Palace. The Queen seated, quietly playing Angry Birds while Corgis gambol around her.


    ELIZABETH R: Stop talking in capital letters, Norris. You know that winds me up.

    UNDER-FOOTMAN OF THE SECOND EQUERRY HABERDASHIER: I Apologise, Ma’am. The Prime Minister Withal.

    [enter CAMERON D, a very naughty boy]

    CAMERON D: Your Majesty.

    ELIZABETH R: Come and sit down, Dave.

    CAMERON D [sitting down]: Your Majesty, pursuant to the Fixed Term Parliament Act which Your Majesty most solemnly enacted by virtue of royal assent in the year of our Thatcher 2011 – [ELIZABETH R twitches involuntarily] - Parliament is dissolved and a general election is very much on the way.

    ELIZABETH R: About bloody time.

    CAMERON D: The date of the election will be May the 7th, Your Majesty.

    ELIZABETH R: And what am I up to round about then, pray?

    CAMERON D: The election takes place on the Thursday between the

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  • #BattleforNumber10: The verdict


    According to our sophisticated scoring system, which involves adding two numbers together, the clear winner is… Ed Miliband, actually.

    Where David Cameron was slowly strangled by Jeremy Paxman’s questioning, Miliband turned the audience against the interviewer. Where the Conservative leader bored the studio audience into submission, the Labour leader at least made things interesting. By the end of the programme, he was actually getting impassioned. Like he actually cared. And that, when up against the hyper-tense Cameron, was more than enough to secure the win.

    David Cameron’s Paxman interview: 4/10


    Merely surviving the onslaught of incredulity from Jeremy Paxman was an achievement for the prime minister, who demonstrated that he can get through a high-pressure interview without getting flustered. Yet this was, in truth, a poor performance. “I want more people to have part-time - not to have part-time, to have full-time work” is not exactly a quote that will echo down the ages.

    He did that

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  • How a flood of SNP MPs could lead to independence

    Nicola Sturgeon’s focus on pacts and deals masks a broader agenda: flooding parliament with Scottish nationalists in a bid to accelerate the drift towards independence.

    The first minister’s speech today is entirely focused on the potential role the SNP could play in hung parliament negotiations today.

    That is what this election is all about, after all. With the Scottish independence issue sorted for a generation after last year’s No victory, we can all forget about nationalism and concentrate on what is at stake on May 7th - who governs the country for the next five years.

    When the stakes are the future of our country, that thinking is horribly short-sighted.

    A new poll out today points to a truth not many in Westminster are prepared to admit right now: this year’s election is only going to pave the way for another referendum in the future.

    The University of Edinburgh survey found 69% of people believe Scotland will eventually leave the UK. That’s only marginally higher than the 59% who

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  • Gordon Brown's North Sea oil promise offers Scottish Labour a flicker of hope

    Gordon Brown’s call for a nationalisation of North Sea oil has left the industry cold - but then energy firms aren’t the former prime minister’s target audience, are they?

    "It’s all about the oil, isn’t it?" one committed nationalist told me on the shores of the Forth last September. "It’ll be around for years to come. Just think what we could do with the money."

    It was a surreal situation - the harbourmaster of a tiny port in north-east Scotland talking about the benefits North Sea oil could bring to his nation, if only they had control of it. Out in the estuary a distant oil rig could be seen on the horizon. Despite the fact that North Sea oil is set to fall to just 1.3 million barrels a day in 2018 from a peak of 4.3 million barrels in 1999, this harbourmaster was completely confident a Scottish government could turn it around.

    He would have been bitterly disappointed by the referendum result. The No campaign’s victory was achieved in part because of Brown’s last-gasp interventions.

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  • Another win for Farage

    A little trouble over Geneva bank accounts at HSBC made Nigel Farage the clear winner in this week’s prime minister’s questions.

    Labour supporters might complain at this, on the basis that even when Ed Miliband sweeps the floor he doesn’t get the credit. Miliband is certainly in need of a triumph after his recent dismal failures. And he looked unusually chipper after his six questions on political donors who held Swiss bank accounts with HSBC, fidgeting between heckles and giggles. If this is what he’s like when he does well at PMQs, he may need physically restraining if he wins the general election.

    The problem with Miliband’s line of attack was that, while the Conservatives come out worse, Labour is not squeaky clean. Cameron usually resorts to bullying his way out of trouble. Today he tried to drag Miliband down with him. It was like that scene in the Lord Of The Rings when Gandalf gets pulled down into the abyss by a large red beast. Only in this version Frodo Farage looks on,

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