Britain’s political leaders travelled across the length and breadth of the country yesterday as they have entered the last 48 hours of the election campaign.
So far the election polls are showing a very close result with Labour and the Conservatives showing 33% and 34% respectively in the post election opinion polls.Polls suggest no party will win enough seats for an outright majority.
David Cameron is currently on a non-stop 36-hour tour of the UK, which saw him talking to nightshift workers as he campaigned through the small hours, meanwhile Nick Clegg leader of the Liberal Democrats has embarked on a 1,000-mile two-journey of the country from Land’s End to John O’Groats looking to enlist more votes for his party during the election and Ed Miliband leader of the Labour Party was in Bedfordshire and North Warwickshire.
Ukip’s Nigel Farage was in Ramsgate, and Natalie Bennett of the Green Party was campaigning in Cambridge.
Where this event normally is a massive publicity and photo opportunity with the people of Britain, some of the leaders got embroiled instead in controversy and heated discussion in their bids. Nick Clegg warned over the prospect of a second election before Christmas, a Ukip candidate was suspended following a foul-mouthed rant, and even Ed Miliband revealed a so-called red line over scrapping the non-dom rule, and thus revealed that he might not seal a majority. David Cameron said the country was “stronger than it was five years ago” but there was “more to do”. Ed Miliband urged people to vote “to reward hard work in our country again” while Nick Clegg said the Lib Dems would offer “stability and decency”.
In the run up to the election Government civil servants have prepared “very, highly or extremely controversial” potential cuts to benefits following warnings that the next government would struggle to keep welfare spending below a legal cap of about £120bn a year.
Nick Clegg raised questions on Tuesday about the stability of any post-election deal with the Conservatives, saying that should another coalition term occur there would be discourse in his party to any Conservative plan to withdraw from the EU. The Lib Dem leader said: “I would never, of course, accept being part of a government that advocated withdrawal from the European Union”. A second election before Christmas is inevitable unless the Liberal Democrats become part of a government in the event of a hung parliament after 7 May, Nick Clegg has said.
Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party warned that the next British government could be illegitimate if it fails to include “Scottish voices”, calling for a post-election deal with Labour. The Scottish National party leader told a gathering for SNP activisits in Dumfries that it would be wrong for it to be made up solely of English MPs, hinting that she expects David Cameron’s Tories to win the most seats in Thursday’s election.
Ukip parliamentary courted controversy again, as they have almost continually done over the last few months, when yesterday a Robert Blay a candidate was suspended after saying he would shoot his Tory rival if he ever became prime minister. In an expletive-laden rant, he claimed the Conservative party’s candidate Ranil Jayawardena was “not British enough to be in our parliament”.
The Conservatives have raised 10 times more in donations than Labour in the final week of the general election campaign, official figures showed on Tuesday. David Cameron’s party received £1.36m, while Ed Miliband’s campaign gained £131,242, according to the final list of contributions released by the Electoral Commission.
Many newspapers have been getting heavily involved in the political depate with the The Evening Standard uriging Londoners to vote Conservative. Also in a shock move the Independent stunned it’s readers by announcing its support of a continuation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. The Times newspaper would like to see a continuation of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, while the Express newspaper is the first paper to endorce UKIP. The Daily Mail backs the Conservatives.
Mr Cameron insisted a Conservative victory was “within reach” but insisted that he would put “the country first” whatever the outcome of Thursday’s poll by working to provide “strong and stable” government.
What are the top issues for each political party at the 2015 general election?
Mr Miliband, who is looking to improve on the 258 seats Labour won in 2010 under the leadership of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said his party would have more activists on the ground on Thursday helping to get out the vote than the other parties combined.
He warned that another Conservative-led government “propped up by the Lib Dems” would “raid family budgets and cut the NHS”.
“This is the clearest choice that has been put before the British public for a generation. Between a Tory government that is for the privileged few and a Labour government that puts working people first.”
Key issues that the parties will be looking for – their election promises:
Eliminate the deficit and be running a surplus by the end of the Parliament
Extra £8bn above inflation for the NHS by 2020
Extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants in England
Legislate to keep people working 30 hours on minimum wage out of tax
30 hours of free childcare per week for working parents of 3&4-year-olds
Referendum on Britain’s EU membership
Responsibility “triple lock”: fully funded manifesto, cut the deficit every year, balance the books as soon as possible in next Parliament
Extra £2.5bn for NHS, largely paid for by a mansion tax on properties valued at over £2m
Raise minimum wage to more than £8ph by 2019
No rise in VAT, NI or basic and higher rates of income tax
Access to childcare from 8am-6pm for parents of primary school children
Freeze energy bills until 2017 and give energy regulator new powers to cut bills this winter
Balance the budget fairly through a mixture of cuts and taxes on higher earners
Increase tax-free allowance to £12,500
Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 with an extra £2.5bn and qualified teachers in every class
Invest £8bn in the NHS. Equal care for mental & physical health
Five new laws to protect nature and fight climate change
Rapid referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union
Control immigration with points system, limit of 50,000 skilled workers a year and a five-year ban on unskilled immigration
Extra £3bn a year for the NHS in England
No tax on the minimum wage
Meet Nato target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, and look to increase it “substantially”
End austerity and restore the public sector, creating jobs that pay at least a living wage
End privatisation of the National Health Service.
Work with other countries to ensure global temperatures do not rise by more than 2C
£85bn programme of home insulation, renewable electricity generation & flood defences
Provide 500,000 social homes for rent by 2020 and control rent levels
Return the railways to public hands
Fight discrimination and racism
Protect the rights of other cultures, religions and backgrounds in a multicultural Britain
An end to illegal war and occupation of foreign countries
A progressive taxation system which redistributes wealth more fairly
Northern Ireland Parties
Make Northern Ireland an economic powerhouse
Deliver world class public services
Create a society based on fairness and opportunity for everyone
Make politics and government work better in Northern Ireland and enhance British identity
End austerity – negotiate to “restore” £1.5bn for job creation and strong public services
Return economic powers for a fair recovery, including full control over income tax
Fully implement welfare protection in Stormont House agreement
Continue to campaign for border poll on Irish unity
The SDLP has pledged a Scottish-style commission on devolving fiscal powers to Northern Ireland
It sets out the need for a prosperity process rather than continued austerity
It wants VAT in the hospitality and tourism industry reduced to 5%
On welfare reform, the party will oppose further cuts
Spending increase of 0.5% a year, enabling £140bn extra investment
Annual UK target of 100,000 affordable homes
Increase in minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020
Restore the 50p top income tax rate for those earning more than £150,000; introduce a mansion tax and a bankers’ bonus tax
Build an alliance against the renewal of Trident
Retain the triple lock on pensions and protect the winter fuel allowance