Election 2010 Lookahead: Friday 30 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

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


Gordon Brown today launches his final week message alongside the Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, the deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, and other cabinet ministers in the West Midlands (9.30am). Later on he will be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman (see below).



William Hague is to join the Conservative candidate Rory Stewart in Penrith, where he will speak at an outdoor rally in the Market Square (5pm).


Liberal Democrats

Vince Cable will visit Ashfield School near Nottingham to speak to first time sixth-form voters and visit their new skills training centre alongside the Lib Dem candidate for Ashfield, Jason Zadrozny (10.30am). Lord Wallace, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman in the House of Lords, will set out Lib Dem UK defence policy at the Royal United Services Institute in London (1pm).


Other parties

The UK Independence Party leader, Lord Pearson, will meet and campaign with the Conservative candidate Mark Reckless, as part of the party's policy of supporting Eurosceptic candidates from other parties, at Caxton in Rochester (2pm).


The media

The fallout from yesterday evening's televised election debate on BBC1 with leaders of the three major parties continues apace. For a more varied diet, look to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, which includes interviews with representatives of the British National Party, Ukip, Green Party, Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. There has been pressure for other parties to receive more airtime following the decision to exclude them from the three prime-time leaders' debates.

A tough week for Gordon Brown continues tonight with his interview in Jeremy Paxman Interviews: Gordon Brown on BBC1 (8.30pm).


Away from the campaign

The BBC presenter Adrian Chiles presents his final edition of The One Show before he moves to ITV on a four-year contract, where he will host the channel's football coverage and take over on the GMTV sofa. Chiles has been with The One Show since it first started in August 2006.

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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.