Election 2010 Lookahead: Monday 26 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

With just 10 days to go until the general election, here are today's movements:

Labour

Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls gives a speech this morning at the UNISON schools seminar, where he is expected to lay out Labour's education plans (11am). Also speaking is the union's general secretary Dave Prentis (10:00am).

As parties seek to shore up the green vote, Ed Miliband debates the environment with his opposite numbers on The Daily Politics this afternoon (2.15pm; see below).

Elsewhere, Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth will set out "A Labour Party View of UK Defence Policy" at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in Whitehall (1pm).

 

Conservatives

After a bad start to the day for Michael Gove, with the shadow education secretary having his plans for parent and charity-run "free schools" criticised by Kent County Council Paul Carter, the Tories are seeking to regain some momentum with a question and answer session at their headquarters in Millbank (8.30am).

David Cameron has been repeating his opposition to electoral reform, and said that the Liberal Democrats are in a "complete muddle" about the possibility of a hung parliament. Elsewhere, Milband's shadow Greg Clark is talking on The Daily Politics a little later in Millbank (2.15pm; see below).

 

Liberal Democrats

Leader Nick Clegg has been speaking in Edinburgh this morning, where he reiterated yesterday's statement that he would not prop up Gordon Brown in a coalition if Labour came third in the number of voters (7.30am).

 

Other parties

Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond joins actress and comedienne Elaine C. Smith and local SNP candidate Richard Thomson for a public question and answer session at Inverurie Town Hall in Aberdeenshire. Also features local SNP candidate Richard Thomson.

With the day's focus firmly on the environment, the Green Party's parliamentary candidate for Lewisham Deptford Darren Johnson is on The Daily Politics debating opponents from the three main parties (2.15pm; see below).

 

The media

BBC2's The Daily Politics continues its live election debates with a debate on the environment between Ed Miliband for Labour, Greg Clark for the Conservatives, Simon Hughes for the Lib Dems and Darren Johnson for the Greens. They are cross-examined by Andrew Neil and Newsnight's Justin Rowlatt (2.15pm).

Over at ITV1 Scotland tonight, Bernard Ponsonby questions David Mundell of the Conservatives in Election Face to Face (10.45pm).

 

Away from the campaign

After having his World Cup dreams defeated by his achilles tendon, David Beckham appears on ABC's Emmy Award-winning daytime talkshow The View alongside hosts Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg in one of the strangest line-ups of the modern era (11pm).

 

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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.