Election 2010 Lookahead: Thursday 29 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

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

Labour

Steering clear of Rochdale, Cabinet Office Minister and Minister for London Tessa Jowell will speak at 'The Future of Cities in Britain' debate at the Sheikh Zayed Theatre at the New Academic Building in London (6.30pm), where she is joined by Conservative Party MP Bob Neill. However all eyes will be on her boss as he takes to the stage in what will be a crucial final leaders' debate (See below).

Conservatives

A quiet day for the Conservatives, with Cambo doubtless engaged in fervent preparation ahead of the kick-off tonight (8.30pm, See below).

Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg continues to target the youth vote by taking part in a Q&A with students at a further education college ahead of the final leaders' debate in Birmingham. He will be joined by Lib Dem candidate for Birmingham Hall Green, Jerry Evans, for the event at South Birmingham College, Hall Green Campus (9.30am) The Liberal Democrats will also focus on setting out their policies for older people today. Mr Clegg will then travel to BBC studios for tonight's debate with David Cameron and Gordon Brown (See below).

Other parties

Unilever will bring a High Court case against the British National Party after the BNP used an image of its Marmite product on their website without permission in a campaign video. BNP party leader Nick Griffin expected to attend hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London (10am). The SNP will hold a press conference with party leader and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond addressing economic policy at the Point Hotel in Edinburgh (1pm).

The media

Yes, it's that time of the week again - BBC One will host the third and final live televised debate between Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Nick Clegg. This time the focus will be on the economy, with Mr Cameron delivering the first opening statement (8.30pm). Presenter David Dimbleby will then host a 'Question Time' debate with the panel including Children's Secretary Ed Balls, Liberal Democrat finance spokesman Vince Cable, and SNP leader Alex Salmond (10.45pm) on BBC One.

Away from the campaign

Ecologists are gathering at Wytham Woods near Oxford today today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), probably making it the most studied wood in Britain. The celebration includes the launch of a new book - 'Wytham Woods: Oxford's Ecological Laboratory.'

Follow the New Statesman team on Facebook.

Getty
Show Hide image

Richmond is a wake-up call for Labour's Brexit strategy

No one made Labour stand in Richmond Park. 

Oh, Labour Party. There was a way through.

No one made you stand in Richmond Park. You could have "struck a blow against the government", you could have shared the Lib Dem success. Instead, you lost both your dignity and your deposit. And to cap it all (Christian Wolmar, take a bow) you self-nominated for a Nobel Prize for Mansplaining.

It’s like the party strategist is locked in the bowels of HQ, endlessly looping in reverse Olivia Newton John’s "Making a Good Thing Better".

And no one can think that today marks the end of the party’s problems on Brexit.

But the thing is: there’s no need to Labour on. You can fix it.

Set the government some tests. Table some amendments: “The government shall negotiate having regard to…”

  • What would be good for our economy (boost investment, trade and jobs).
  • What would enhance fairness (help individuals and communities who have missed out over the last decades).
  • What would deliver sovereignty (magnify our democratic control over our destiny).
  • What would improve finances (what Brexit makes us better off, individually and collectively). 

And say that, if the government does not meet those tests, the Labour party will not support the Article 50 deal. You’ll take some pain today – but no matter, the general election is not for years. And if the tests are well crafted they will be easy to defend.

Then wait for the negotiations to conclude. If in 2019, Boris Johnson returns bearing cake for all, if the tests are achieved, Labour will, and rightly, support the government’s Brexit deal. There will be no second referendum. And MPs in Leave voting constituencies will bear no Brexit penalty at the polls.

But if he returns with thin gruel? If the economy has tanked, if inflation is rising and living standards have slumped, and the deficit has ballooned – what then? The only winners will be door manufacturers. Across the country they will be hard at work replacing those kicked down at constituency offices by voters demanding a fix. Labour will be joined in rejecting the deal from all across the floor: Labour will have shown the way.

Because the party reads the electorate today as wanting Brexit, it concludes it must deliver it. But, even for those who think a politician’s job is to channel the electorate, this thinking discloses an error in logic. The task is not to read the political dynamic of today. It is to position itself for the dynamic when it matters - at the next general election

And by setting some economic tests for a good Brexit, Labour can buy an option on that for free.

An earlier version of this argument appeared on Jolyon Maugham's blog Waiting For Tax.

Jolyon Maugham is a barrister who advised Ed Miliband on tax policy. He blogs at Waiting for Tax, and writes for the NS on tax and legal issues.