• The national picture has produced a surprising national result, but the last few hours have been equally shocking for the large number of big names whose political careers have been unceremoniously halted. Here’s our view of the top ten.

    Jim Murphy

    The Scottish Labour leader is arguably the highest –profile casualty of the night. He may not have been in government, but his task was to first stem the flow of votes from Labour to the SNP and then start clawing back the popularity lost in last year’s independence campaign. In that task he has spectacularly failed. He offered a gracious speech after being defeated and has vowed to continue in the job – but will not be doing so from the green benches of the Commons.

    Vince Cable

    It’s ironic , after so many column inches devoted to see his leadership machinations, that the man most visibly uncomfortable with being in government with the Conservatives won’t even be around to put himself forward as a successor to Nick Clegg. The business

    Read More »from General election 2015: The ten biggest scalps of election night
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    Nearly everyone got this election wrong – and now it’s time for the fallout.

    In the last week of campaigning one group of clever academic types adjusted their assessment of the chances of a hung parliament from 90% to 100%. Next to no-one thought a Conservative majority was possible.

    It seemed incredible at first, but the unthinkable has happened. Throughout this election campaign the experts have failed spectacularly. “It’s a disaster for the pollsters,” Professor Jon Yonge of the University of Liverpool told us.

    It wasn’t even that: many felt the combination of Labour and SNP MPs would provide an irresistible anti-Tory majority which would force David Cameron to resign. Instead the Conservative leader’s prospects of continuing to govern became irresistible as the Tory seats forecast rose.

    That means Britain is waking up to the following:

    David Cameron will remain in power as – for the first time since 1992 – a Conservative PM winning an overall majority.

    The SNP’s extraordinary swathe of

    Read More »from Just waking up? Here’s what Britain faces after a night of shocking election results
  • By Nick Smallman

    If you want to lead people, you need to connect with them. So why do many of the party leaders in 2015 find it so difficult?

    It’s sad, really, that in today’s world ‘how our leaders behave’ matters so much in an election campaign. Politics would be much simpler if it was just about policies. But leadership is about people and who they are. It matters - and it could end up deciding who comes out on top this week.

    You’d think that communicating would be something all our party leaders would be good at. Actually, we are living in a rather disappointing era of leadership communication. Gone are the giants of yesteryear like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Every time their successors go on TV they’re under pressure because they’re painfully aware that if they make a mistake they may lose votes.

    I’ve been studying the way human personalities get affected by stress and know that pressure can significantly damage communication. It affects leadership behaviours among my company’s

    Read More »from Connecting with voters: The secrets to electability and leadership
  • By Catherine Haddon

    As we face the prospect of another hung parliament, confusion and obfuscation are dominating discussion of post-election negotiations and government formation.

    The constitution has come front and centre and particularly the question about who has the right to attempt to form a government first, who would be the most ‘legitimate’ government and on what basis this is all worked out.

    This last minute debate is raising questions on constitutional authority versus what seems logical to people or how they would prefer the process to operate.

    First, it’s worth putting this in some context. Let’s start with the simple stuff. In minority government the ability to govern is being able to form a majority through parliamentary groupings – either through formal arrangements or simply surviving votes. There is no process that means that whichever party comes out with most seats gets the first go at this. All can negotiate with each other. However, because it is already the

    Read More »from An election is no time for a debate about 'legitimacy'
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    On Friday morning, after what has been an insufferably protracted and bitter campaign, we will know the results of the election but probably not the winner.

    We will know how many seats each party has won, but we are unlikely to know whether or not David Cameron can keep his red box and stay in Downing Street because it has long been predicted to be another hung parliament.

    But we can be fairly sure that if, as polls suggest, the Tories win the most seats but cannot command the support of a majority of MPs, Mr Cameron is going to kick up an almighty fuss in a bid to stop Labour from doing anything so dastardly as raising the top rate of income tax to the level paid in Canada, Austria, Israel and a host of other countries that aren’t exactly communist, or dare to make multi-millionaire homeoweners contribute a little more to the country that helped massively enrich them at the expense of modern first-time buyers.

    I have no idea what those cunning tacticians at Conservative Campaign

    Read More »from Operation Toys Out The Pram: How the Tories plan a scorched earth strategy if they win the most seats but cannot rule
  • In South Thanet, Nigel Farage is everywhere and nowhere. He’s the subject of every political conversation and his beaming face stares out from countless posters and billboards. But the man himself is absent. No-one I speak to in the area – supporter or opponent – has seen him. He refuses to appear at debates with other candidates. His own debates are ticket-only, reportedly so he can eject anyone who disagrees with him. Ukip themselves won’t return my calls and there is no office presence in the seat.

    The day after I visit Thanet, Farage is on the BBC criticising it for not giving Ukip fair coverage in the election. But the irony is that Farage seems to be using his national media presence to batter his opponents in South Thanet into submission rather than taking them on face-to-face.

    As he prepared for his tour of London media studios, the rest of Westminster seemed to be heading down to Thanet. On the day I visit, foreign secretary Phillip Hammond has come down from London, flanked by

    Read More »from The ghost of Farage hangs over Thanet
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    “Great economic blizzards swept the world in those years. The great slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic State. They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation.”

    This thundering statement is an excerpt from the Labour Party manifesto of 1945. Yet, sadly, it is equally relevant today.

    It is seven years since bankers, unleashed from the bounds of social responsibility by a market fundamentalist revolution that was launched by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan decades earlier, triggered a global economic meltdown that most of us are still suffering from.

    But, despite great anger at the time, we don’t seem to have fully learned its lesson and have continued along a path that is certain

    Read More »from Just like in 1945, inequality, a craven, irresponsible elite and hope for a better future are at stake at this election
  • At this stage in the general election, arguments are dual-use. Of course, they aim to maximise votes for a party and fire-up supporters, but they also serve a second function: to manipulate public perceptions of what happens on May 8th.

    The Tories and Tory-supporting press have been on legitimacy duty for some time now. They want a pre-emptive victory. If, as expected, they are the party with the largest number of seats, they want any other party in government to be seen as illegitimate.

    Polling suggests the public is open to this message. That’s unsurprising. It seems intuitive. The party with the most seats should surely be the one which forms a government.

    But it’s false. The parliamentary system does not grant government to the party with the most seats, it grants it to the party which can command a majority in the Commons. That is not a constitutional technicality or a trick: it is a true expression of political will. If the polls stay as they are, Labour have the best case for

    Read More »from Even with fewer seats, Labour makes the best case for legitimate government
  • Our media are to blame for our boring leaders

    By Nick Smallman

    The media are making it impossible for politicians in this general election campaign. Our leaders are rushing towards mediocrity - and it’s as much the journalists’ fault as the men and women they’re reporting on.

    Our party leaders are not, by and large, a very impressive bunch. They are participating in a rush to mediocrity born of fear of journalists operating in today’s 24-hour news culture. Social media only makes it worse by creating a mob mentality. And because news is now merged with entertainment, the gaffe becomes golden.

    Parties have tried to combat this by imposing extremely tight controls on what those speaking on their behalf are allowed to say. It’s only added to the problem, though, because people are very good at detecting pre-prepared statements.

    Think of that sinking feeling when you realise the call centre guy who’s called you up is reading from a script. Viewers feel the same instinctive alienation with politicians. Voters hearing pre-prepared

    Read More »from Our media are to blame for our boring leaders
  • Nick Clegg was the unlikely winner of last night’s sort-of-but-not-really TV debate. It won’t make a blind bit of difference to his prospects, but for what it’s worth: he performed best.

    Unlike David Cameron and Ed Miliband, Clegg didn’t talk down to his audience. He didn’t try Miliband’s excruciating ‘what’s your name’ tactic, and didn’t descend to Cameron’s utterly false impersonation of what a normal person might behave like. He acted very much as one might expect him to behind closed doors. He took on the audience, sometimes really quite roughly. He wasn’t all that much easier on them than he used to be with MPs at deputy prime minister’s questions in the Commons. It was refreshing to see a political leader talk clearly, outline his arguments and actually debate the audience, rather than trot out slogans and evasions.

    There is a simple reason why Clegg is so much more adept at handling a hostile audience: he still remembers what they look like. He faces unprecedented levels of

    Read More »from Clegg was the surprise winner of the Question Time debate


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