Election 2010 Lookahead: Sunday 18 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

With another 18 days to go in this election campaign, here is what is happening today:


Gordon Brown makes an appearance on The Andrew Marr Programme this morning (BBC1, 10.15). It's the first encounter between the two since the rather uncomfortable pre-party conference conversation in which Marr raised the PM's mental health.


Apparently, David Cameron is launching School Stars, an X-Factor-style contest we're told. Oh, and he'll be talking about international development too. Meanwhile, Samantha Cameron is celebrating her 39th birthday.

Liberal Democrats

Leader Nick Clegg will address the congregation at Christ Church, New Malden, in south west London to mark Election 2010 World Poverty Day.

The media

Another day, another leaders' debate. This time Sky News hosts a Welsh leaders' debate. Participating in this 90 minute programme, which starts at 10.30am, will be Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Kirsty Williams; Labour Party Wales Secretary Peter Hain, and Conservative Party Shadow Secretary Cheryl Gillan.

Other parties

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond will be campaigning for his party in Aberdeenshire. He will be joined by SNP candidate or Banff and Buchan, Dr Eilidh Whiteford.

Away from the campaign

The Bank of England Sports Ground in Roehampton, London hosts the annual PRs vs Hacks charity football and netball matches. The event is in aid of the Kids Company charity and it all kicks off at 12pm.


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Jon Bernstein, former deputy editor of New Statesman, is a digital strategist and editor. He tweets @Jon_Bernstein. 

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.