Election 2010 Lookahead: Tuesday 27 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

With only nine days to go until the closest election in recent times, here is what you should be looking out for today:


Kicking off with an imminent campaign event (9.30am), Labour are hoping to keep the focus on policy and away from hung parliament speculation. Peter Mandelson is on The Daily Politics this afternoon (2.15pm; see below) debating business with opponents Ken Clarke, the Liberal Democrats' John Thurso and the SNP's John Swinney.

This evening, deputy party leader Harriet Harman is debating Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone on the subject of women (8pm; see below).



Following this morning's campaign event (10am), Conservative business spokesman Ken Clarke is to debate Peter Mandelson and others on The Daily Politics this afternoon (2.15pm; see below).

This evening, Theresa May, shadow secretary for work and pensions, will debate deputy Labor party leader Harriet Harman and the Liberal Democrats equality spokesperson Lynne Featherstone at an event presented by the London School of Economics and the Fawcett Society entitled "What About Women?" (8pm).


Liberal Democrats

With the day seeming to focus on crime, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne was on the Today programme this morning repeating his party's view that prisons are being stretched by a multiplicity of shorter sentences -- an issue in which he sees some overlap with the Tories.

At the moment, leader Nick Clegg is on BBC5 Live taking questions from listeners. He has sought to turn away from his flip-flopping on the possibility of a hung parliament, saying his focus is on those who would take forward his policies for the country.


Other parties

The BBC is reporting that the Scottish National Party -- purusing the sour grape vote -- are to start legal proceedings today against the public service broadcaster for failing to include leader Alex Salmond in their leaders' debates.


The media

Today's debate on The Daily Politics centres on business, featuring experienced sparring partners Peter Mandelson and Ken Clarke, alongside John Thurso for the Liberal Democrats and John Swinney for the SNP -- interestingly, the BBC show is paying attention to the smaller parties issue by issue, yesterday having the Green Party on to debate the environment (2.15pm). They face questions from the corporation's business editor Robert Peston alongside Andrew Neil.

On ITV1, weekly discussion programme Campaign 2010 with Jonathan Dimbleby returns with its usual political guests, commentators and live audience (10.35pm).


Away from the campaign

One for all the happy commuters -- the East London Line is opening to the public today, running eight trains an hour between New Cross Gate and Dalston Junction from 7am until 8pm, according to the BBC. Full services will come in on 23 May.

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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

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

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