Look left, look right...turn away Photo: Ashley Cowburn
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Lib Dems unveil their first election poster - at 8.20am, in the rain

Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, launched the Liberal Democrat's first election poster this morning - it rained, and the crowd looked bored.

It’s 8.20am. It’s raining. And I’m standing opposite the House of Lords, with a dozen Liberal Democrat activists. Two of them are wearing yellow ties and an older chap – donning a fedora – has opted for a yellow waistcoat. Unfortunately, they are all holding orange signs. Much like the “alternative” Lib Dem budget, today’s poster unveiling was a damp squib. Political bloggers, Guido Fawkes –  whose chicken enthusiastically stomped around College Green at the Greens' poster launch –  didn't even bother turning up.

“One, two, three, give us a cheer!” shouted one supporter, holding up the Lib Dem diamond plaque, as Danny Alexander walked towards them.

“Wheyyyy” around four or five of the dozen supporters cheered, half-heartedly.

"That's the spirit!" shouted back the one enthusiastic Lib Dem on planet earth. 

Silence. 

"Can we go home now?" 

Everyone look at the young Lib Dem  Photo: Ashley Cowburn

But wait: Danny Alexander has arrived. THE POSTER IS UNVEILED. On the left-hand side of the poster is Ed Balls, trying to pout. On the right-hand side is George Osborne, with an invisible hook in his mouth. Written on the poster: "Look left, look right, then cross Liberal Democrats". 

I look to the left and see the miserable Lib Dems. I look to the right and see the photojournalists heckling Alexander: "giz a pose Danny!" I look to my shoes.

"The truth is," Alexander declares, pointing his hands left and right in an attempt to confuse everyone."The economic recovery that we're enjoying, would not be happening without the Liberal Democrats...when you look to the next Parliament the biggest risk to that government - the biggest risk to that success - are owned by Labour and the Conservative party. 

"We have an opportunity for light at the end of the tunnel. But the Tories want to switch the lights off. The Labour party on the other hand have no plan... they'll take us back to the mess that they created." 

"AYY!" interjects the old chap with the fedora. 

"And so, our message to this government," Alexander continues "the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can keep this government going..."  

Ashley Cowburn writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2014. He tweets @ashcowburn

 

 

Oli Scarff/ Getty
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Andy Burnham's full speech on attack: "Manchester is waking up to the most difficult of dawns"

"We are grieving today, but we are strong."

Following Monday night's terror attack on an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, newly elected mayor of the city Andy Burnham, gave a speech outside Manchester Town Hall on Tuesday morning, the full text of which is below: 

After our darkest of nights, Manchester is today waking up to the most difficult of dawns. 

It’s hard to believe what has happened here in the last few hours and to put into words the shock, anger and hurt that we feel today.

These were children, young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorise and kill.

This was an evil act. Our first thoughts are with the families of those killed and injured. And we will do whatever we can to support them.

We are grieving today, but we are strong. Today it will be business as usual as far as possible in our great city.

I want to thank the hundreds of police, fire and ambulance staff who worked throughout the night in the most difficult circumstances imaginable.

We have had messages of support from cities around the country and across the world, and we want to thank them for that.

But lastly I wanted to thank the people of Manchester. Even in the minute after the attack, they opened their doors to strangers and drove them away from danger.

They gave the best possible immediate response to those who seek to divide us and it will be that spirit of Manchester that will prevail and hold us together.

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