Backbench Hot Take: ‘Consider yourself a party-starter? Now’s your best chance’

This article was published in Backbench on 3 April 2016


Across the nation, poll cards have landed gently onto doormats. The elections taking place in May won’t change anything seismic, but are interesting thanks to a uniquely large pool of floating voters.

Labour under Corbyn has alienated scores of moderates; the Liberal Democrats have lost their local footholds and are adrift under a drab leader; UKIP has dropped off the political map but soldier on pointlessly under Farage’s endlessly loony tyranny; the Greens are somewhere; and the Conservatives are self-combusting on Europe, the minimum wage, benefit cuts, and just about anything else they can get their hands on. Never in recent political history have all the main parties simultaneously been in such total disarray.

The ‘morning after’ prognosis, therefore: my money’s on not very much happening at all. Turnout is always low at local elections – the estimate for 2014 was 36% – but I expect turnout this time to be drastically lower still. Voters with nobody they can fully support just don’t bother.

The key point of all this? If there’s ever been a time to start a new party, this is it. The best bet at this point would be a moderate centre-left-ish coalition of Lib Dem types, Blairites, and Tories who think taking billions from the disabled is a bit off. Paint the post-Brexit Tories as irresponsible, accrue support, win by-elections, and play the long game under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Not since the mass enfranchisement of the early 20th century has there been a better time to strike out with something new.

The key question: who’s going to come up and get this party started?

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The Great TV Debate: What to Expect

Tonight will see the second of this election’s broadcast events: a debate between the seven party leaders of the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Green Parties, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and UKIP. It will be the first time a live televised debate in this country has seen so many party leaders occupy one stage, and with political tensions running high, and guidelines for the debates procedure as confusing as they are specific, here’s our rundown of what to expect in tonight’s debate.

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Miliband vetoes formal coalition with SNP

After extensive Tory efforts to force the Labour leader on the issue, Ed Miliband has today ruled out a formal coalition with the SNP. 

Following concerns raised that a government could be formed with a party committed to the break-up of the United Kingdom, Miliband said: “Labour will not go into coalition government with the SNP. There will be no SNP ministers in any government I lead.”

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Election Briefing: Polls & Policy

With the widely reported milestone of ‘100 days until the election’ behind us, the election campaign proper has begun with all the fervour you’d expect.

Polls released this week by Lord Ashcroft, Tory peer and philanthropist, have shown that on a constituency level, the SNP surge is real, and it’s as big if not bigger than we thought. If repeated on polling day, Ashcroft’s results would see the SNP take as many as 56 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats, with Labour holding two, and the Liberal Democrats holding two.

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“Political earthquake” after new constituency polls

Constituency polling in Scotland has this week shown that the SNP can expect substantial gains from Labour and the Liberal Democrats in May’s General Election.

The polls show 15 of all 16 seats polled as being likely SNP gains, with only want seat polled, Glasgow North East, set to be held by its Labour incumbent, Willie Bain MP. Lord Ashcroft’s polls saw 16,007 Scots from key SNP target seats in Scotland were interviewed by telephone between 5 and 30 January with results weighted by vote at the last election and likelihood to turnout at the next.

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Labour rejects “falsehood, fear and smear” in election strategy pledge

The Labour Party has revealed that David Cameron will not feature on any of the party’s posters during this year’s General Election campaign.

The party’s supposed focus on “issues not personalities” in their poster campaigns comes just days after leader Ed Miliband told a dinner of political correspondents that his “only request is that you do your bit too to try and make this election about the issues, choices and beliefs that matter to the country as well.

He went on to say that “one of the biggest enemies of politics is cynicism, the belief that we are all in it for base motives. Agree with us or disagree with us, but report us for what we believe. This is all we can ask for.” Continue reading

Election HUB: Editor’s Welcome

Welcome to the Backbench Election HUB! At the time of writing, there are 96 days, 9 hours, 48 minutes, and 41 (40…, 39…., 38…) seconds until polls open on 7 May 2015, for the 55th General Election since the co-option the members of parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.

In more recent history, technological advancements, constitutional shifts, and post-crisis fallouts have revolutionised the political landscape. Involvement in politics is easier, more accessible, and more instant than ever before – anyone with a Twitter account can be plugged into politics of all kinds at all levels. In spite of these developments, the political doors can still seem shut to many.

Only 23% of MPs are female, versus 51% of the general population. There are only 27 MPs of BME origin, whereas to be representative there would need to be 55-60 BME MPs. Continue reading