The party leaders, minus Cameron. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/AFP
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Who are the party leaders?

Where is Natalie Bennett from? How old is David Cameron? What was Nigel Farage's job? We give you the lowdown on the party leaders.

Ed Miliband

Age: 45

Birthplace: London

Education: Haverstock Comprehensive in Chalk Farm; the University of Oxford (PPE); the London School of Economics

The son of immigrant parents, Ed Miliband began his career as a researcher on the Channel 4 program A Week in Politics. He started working for the Labour Party in 1993 and worked for Gordon Brown. He was elected at MP for Doncaster North in May 2005 with over 50 per cent of the vote. He has been leader of the Labour Party since September 2010.

Nicola Sturgeon

Age: 44

Birthplace: Irvine, Ayrshire

Education: Greenwood Academy; the University of Glasgow (Bachelor of Law, Diploma in Legal Practice)

Nicola Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party in 1986, where she worked as a Youth Affairs Vice Convener and Publicity Vice Convener. She originally ran in the 1992 general election, when she was the youngest candidate in Scotland, but failed to win the seat.

In 1997, she defied a Labour national landslide to win the Glasgow Govan seat for the SNP. Although she failed to win the seat in the Scottish Parliament elections of 1999, following partial devolution, she was placed first in the SNP regional list and became a MSP.

Sturgeon has served in the Shadow Cabinets of both Alex Salmond and John Swinney, and has been the Shadow Minister of Children and Education, Health and Community Care, and Justice.

She became Deputy First Minister of the SNP in 2007 and party leader in September 2014.

 

David Cameron

Age: 48

Birthplace: London

Education: Eton College; the University of Oxford (PPE)

After leaving Eton in 1984, David Cameron took up a post as a researcher for his godfather Tim Rathbone before working in Hong King as a “ship jumper”. He then entered the University of Oxford, where he was – controversially – a member of the elite Bullingdon Club.

After graduating, Cameron worked for the Conservative Research Department, going on to brief John Major for Prime Minister’s Questions. He then served as Special Adviser to the Chancellor and later the Home secretary.

After various attempts, Cameron won a seat in Witney, Oxfordshire in 2010. His leadership of the Conservative Party was announced in December 2005.

 

Nigel Farage

Age: 51

Birthplace: Downe, Kent

Education: Dulwich College

The son of a stockbroker, Nigel Farage was educated at Dulwich College in south London before entering the City as a broker on the London Metal Exchange.

Farage had been involved in the Conservative Party since school, but left in 1992 after then Prime Minister John Major’s government signed a treaty on the European Union. He was a founding member of UKIP the following year.

Farage was elected to the European Parliament in 1999 and then again in 2004, 2009 and 2014. He was elected leader of UKIP in September 2006.

Some of his comments about immigrant groups in the UK, such as Muslims and Romanians, have proved controversial.

 

Natalie Bennett

Age: 46

Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Education: MLC School, Burwood, New South Wales; University of Sydney (Bachelor of Agricultural Science); University of New England (BA Arts); University of Leicester (MA Mass Communication)

Natalie Bennett was born in Sydney, and started work as a journalist in New South Wales. She left Australia in 1995, living for four years in Thailand before moving to Britain in 1999. She has worked for the Independent, the Times and has been editor of The Guardian Weekly.

She joined the Green Party in 2006, working as an internal communications co-ordinator. She also founded the Green Party women’s group, and was a trustee of the Fawcett Society 2010-14.

Bennett replaced Caroline Lucas as leader of the Green Party in September 2012. Now a British Citizen, she would be eligible to hold the post of Prime Minister.

Photo: Getty
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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

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