Election 2010 Lookahead: Thursday 8 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

Each morning between now and 6 May we'll mark your card and highlight the main events of the coming day's campaigning, party by party and across the media.



Gordon Brown kicked off his morning on Radio 4's Today programme -- a typically combative exchange with John Humphrys in the 8.10 slot. Brown is expected to spend the day defending the intended rise in National Insurance contributions. He will host a London press conference with the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, and the Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, focusing on the economy. Elsewhere, the sitting MP for the marginal Birmingham Edgbaston constituency, Gisela Stuart, takes part in a Question Time-style public debate on the environment with fellow general election candidates -- the Conservative Party's Deirdre Alden, the Liberal Democrat Roger Harmer and, for the Green Party, Phil Simpson.



David Cameron hosts his party's launch London press conference at 10.30 this morning. The Millbank Tower "presser" is likely to see him reveal plans for a voluntary "national citizen service". He then stops off at an academy school in London before heading to Norwich (3.15pm) and Plymouth (7pm) for a community meeting. Meanwhile, Samantha Cameron will be campaigning in Leeds (10am) and Brigg and Goole (2.30pm). By the way, it now looks likely that the Conservatives will unveil their manifesto on Tuesday 13 April.


Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg teams up this morning with the party's former leader Charles Kennedy and the current head of the Scottish Lib Dems, Tavish Scott MSP, to launch the Lib Dem campaign for Scotland. All three will be on the Pacific Quay in Glasgow (9.30am). From there, Clegg goes ahead of the Tories to the marginal seat of Eastleigh (notional majority of 534), where he will hold a joint event with the Lib Dem candidate and home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne (1pm). Finishes his afternoon in Bristol (3.20pm).


Other parties

Plaid Cymru officially launches its election campaign on Anglesey today. The Plaid leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, will then visit Plaid candidates from across the north of Wales in a tour of constituencies.


The media

While Brown kicked off the day on the Today programme, David Cameron was on the GMTV sofa. Later today, ITV's Tonight programme (7.30pm) investigates the prospects of a hung parliament and reveals which seats could prove decisive to the final result on 6 May.


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

Steve Garry
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The footie is back. Three weeks in and what have we learned so far?

Barcleys, boots and big names... the Prem is back.

Another season, another reason for making whoopee cushions and giving them to Spurs fans to cheer them up during the long winter afternoons ahead. What have we learned so far?

Big names are vital. Just ask the manager of the Man United shop. The arrival of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger has done wonders for the sale of repro tops and they’ve run out of letters. Benedict Cumberbatch, please join Carlisle United. They’re desperate for some extra income.

Beards are still in. The whole Prem is bristling with them, the skinniest, weediest player convinced he’s Andrea Pirlo. Even my young friend and neighbour Ed Miliband has grown a beard, according to his holiday snaps. Sign him.

Boots Not always had my best specs on, but here and abroad I detect a new form of bootee creeping in – slightly higher on the ankle, not heavy-plated as in the old days but very light, probably made from the bums of newborn babies.

Barclays Still driving me mad. Now it’s screaming from the perimeter boards that it’s “Championing the true Spirit of the Game”. What the hell does that mean? Thank God this is its last season as proud sponsor of the Prem.

Pitches Some groundsmen have clearly been on the weeds. How else can you explain the Stoke pitch suddenly having concentric circles, while Southampton and Portsmouth have acquired tartan stripes? Go easy on the mowers, chaps. Footballers find it hard enough to pass in straight lines.

Strips Have you seen the Everton third kit top? Like a cheap market-stall T-shirt, but the colour, my dears, the colour is gorgeous – it’s Thames green. Yes, the very same we painted our front door back in the Seventies. The whole street copied, then le toot middle classes everywhere.

Scott Spedding Which international team do you think he plays for? I switched on the telly to find it was rugby, heard his name and thought, goodo, must be Scotland, come on, Scotland. Turned out to be the England-France game. Hmm, must be a member of that famous Cumbrian family, the Speddings from Mirehouse, where Tennyson imagined King Arthur’s Excalibur coming out the lake. Blow me, Scott Spedding turns out to be a Frenchman. Though he only acquired French citizenship last year, having been born and bred in South Africa. What’s in a name, eh?

Footballers are just so last season. Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane can’t score. The really good ones won’t come here – all we get is the crocks, the elderly, the bench-warmers, yet still we look to them to be our saviour. Oh my God, let’s hope we sign Falcao, he’s a genius, will make all the difference, so prayed all the Man United fans. Hold on: Chelsea fans. I’ve forgotten now where he went. They seek him here, they seek him there, is he alive or on the stairs, who feckin’ cares?

John Stones of Everton – brilliant season so far, now he is a genius, the solution to all of Chelsea’s problems, the heir to John Terry, captain of England for decades. Once he gets out of short trousers and learns to tie his own laces . . .

Managers are the real interest. So refreshing to have three young British managers in the Prem – Alex Neil at Norwich (34), Eddie Howe at Bournemouth (37) and that old hand at Swansea, Garry Monk, (36). Young Master Howe looks like a ball boy. Or a tea boy.

Mourinho is, of course, the main attraction. He has given us the best start to any of his seasons on this planet. Can you ever take your eyes off him? That handsome hooded look, that sarcastic sneer, the imperious hand in the air – and in his hair – all those languages, he’s so clearly brilliant, and yet, like many clever people, often lacking in common sense. How could he come down so heavily on Eva Carneiro, his Chelsea doctor? Just because you’re losing? Yes, José has been the best fun so far – plus Chelsea’s poor start. God, please don’t let him fall out with Abramovich. José, we need you.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 August 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Isis and the new barbarism