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.

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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.