There’s one question that’s been predominant in my thoughts today: as the leaders set off on their final legs of their great campaign tours, some of them are promising to campaign day and night and go without sleep. So, how exactly do you campaign at 3am? Yes, there are a few people working overnight shifts and people who happen to be up at that time for one reason or another, but is loitering around a police officer on a night beat really the best use of anyone’s time compared to sleep?

John Thurso on a casual day.

John Thurso on a casual day.

Nick Clegg’s on a tour of the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats (both conveniently Lib Dem-held and giving us a chance to review John Thurso’s facial hair at the end of the campaign) which gives me an idea for a fundraising challenge to coincide with the next general election if it goes on the same schedule. If you go at around 20-25 miles a day and stick to the more direct routes on the roads (I was on a more roundabout route), you can walk Land’s End to John O’Groats in less time than it would take to run the entire election campaign. So you could start on the day the campaign begins, get to John O’Groats and still have time to get back and vote. Maybe that’s what I’ll do for 2020, and count the posters on the way.

In local election news, I went to the Meet The Candidates event at the Mercury Theatre yesterday evening, which was an interesting experience even if I didn’t learn that much new about any of them. Indeed, the biggest mystery of all remains to be answered: just who is Ken Scrimshaw, our Christian People’s Alliance candidate? From chatting to seasoned hustings-goers it seems he hasn’t turned up at any of them, which does make me wonder if he’s been Raptured and taken away from search Earthly considerations as elections. So have any of you seen CPA candidates at any time since the election started, or should we be concerned?

For a more detailed analysis of the hustings, see Jason’s report at the Colchester Chronicle. For me, it reminded me why these sort of things are very frustrating to be at when I’m not a candidate as there are so many things I take umbrage with and want to interject into the debate and argue about them. Especially when a discussion about the economy gets derailed by the household fallacy and repeating mediamacro myths straight away, its hard to stay silent. I did manage it, though, and just kept most of my grumbling to angry ranting on Twitter which I hope amused someone.

hugemanateeBig election complaint today: I’ve had several emails from the Lib Dems about Operation Manatee today, and not one of them has used the ‘oh, the huge manatee!’ meme. I mean, what is the world coming to when a party can’t spot the obvious image that all it’s internet-savvy members think of as soon as they see the word ‘manatee’? Unless this is all just a big wind up, and the plan is merely to drop that image on millions of voters on Thursday morning, but with Paddy Ashdown’s head superimposed on the manatee.

Perhaps fittingly as we approach the end of an election that’s revealing all sorts of issues with the way the UK works, today’s one candidate party with a dream of greater things is the Democratic Reform Party. And linking to an earlier election update, their candidate in Lewisham Deptford is a badger. Well, he’s called Phillip Badger, which is close enough, even if he’s not a nocturnal mammal. Their policies are actually what their name suggests – reforming the way Britain works to bring power a lot closer to people – though someone in their party seems to have got a bit carried away when coming up with their ‘Online Parliament’ policy process, which makes the Liberal Democrat one look simple and streamlined. They also appear to have a penchant for stock photography on their website, which does make them look oddly generic at points. Still, good luck to them, and maybe the people of Deptford will rise up and demand reform on Thursday.

Some interesting stuff on Election Leaflets as the end gets nearer – I’d love someone to explain the issues on this one, or point me to somewhere I can find out more, for instance – but today’s featured leaflet has to be King Arthur Pendragon, standing as an independent in Salisbury. Yes, the King Arthur Pendragon often seen protesting at Stonehenge who believes himself to be the reincarnation of the ‘real’ King Arthur, and here described as ‘Titular Head and Chosen Chief’ of ‘the Warrior/Political arm of the Druid Movement’. Which is a much better title than leader of a party, I suppose. He’s stood at elections before, gaining 459 votes in Aldershot in 2001, 581 votes in Winchester in 2005 and 290 in Salisbury in 2010, so he hasn’t yet come close to retaining his deposit, let alone getting himself elected.

Only one more election blog post to go until the day itself! The finish line is crawling closer and we’ll soon find out whether the voting public can match up to the opinion polls, or if we can reject the result as it was a self-selecting sample and therefore not a statistically valid test of public opinion.

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Those of you who read Simon Wren-Lewis will understand his concept of ‘mediamacro’ – the tale of the UK’s macroeconomic situation over the last few years as reported and explained by the media. It’s a simple morality tale where the country overspent and now has to repay its debts, because just like a family budget, you have to pay off your credit card eventually. It’s easily repeated, easily expressed and also completely wrong in depicting how a national economy actually works. However, it’s a very useful story to have as the official narrative if you want to justify a certain set of ‘austerity’ policies.

What we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks of this election campaign, amplified over the past few days is what we could term ‘mediapolitics’ if it wasn’t such an ugly word. However, like mediamacro, it’s an attempt to report and explain the possible post-election situation in simple and easily-understandable terms that are completely wrong but very useful in pushing forward a certain set of political parties as the next Government.

As with mediamacro, it’s an attempt to create a framing narrative for post-election discussions. Just as mediamacro doesn’t question the assumption that all debt is bad and all debt must be paid off as soon as possible, so the political narrative is based on the idea that any Government formed post-election must be ‘stable’ and ‘legitimate’. These are useful words because they sound like they should be objective definitions, capable of being used to discriminate between different outcomes, when in terms of the way British politics and government work, they’re entirely subjective and capable of being used however you wish. It’s effectively the media accepting the Tory ‘coalition of chaos’ slogan and assuming that there would be questions over the potential stability and legitimacy of a government relying on the SNP, but not of one that needs at least the passive acquiescence of the DUP, UKIP and the Better Off Out wing of the Tories to survive.

This narrative then sets the tone for reporting on Friday and beyond, if the result is in line with the current forecasts: David Cameron will be portrayed as bravely staying in Downing Street to out together a stable government that can run the country, while Ed Miliband will be said to be cutting back room deals and threatening the stability of the country by refusing to denounce a backbench Labour MP who suggests talking to the SNP. The Tories will be portrayed as ‘winners’ for having got a handful more seats and votes and will thus possess some sort of ineffable momentum that gives them the right to form a Government, while Labour will be the sore losers, standing in the way of the will of the people.

(If there’s one lesson British politics in this election needs to learn from American politics it’s the way these sort of media narratives were used to spin the 2000 Presidential election. The right-wing media aggressively pushed the line that Bush had won Florida, and all the attempts to show otherwise were just being sore losers. Rather than fighting fire with fire, the left meekly decided to let the courts decide it, letting the right create the accepted narrative of events.)

One of the interesting things about this narrative is its flexibility. For the early part of the campaign, the message was simply about getting the Tories a majority to ensure they could be a stable and legitimate government but as the election has progressed, it’s become clear that the public are stubbornly refusing to break the ongoing opinion poll tie and so the Tories will likely not be able to stumble over the finish line by themselves. So, all the media endorsements of who to vote for aren’t a simple ‘vote Tory’ but add in a ‘vote Lib Dem in a few places as well’. As Jennie Rigg pointed out last week, no matter how gleefully you quote sections out of context, that’s not an endorsement of the Lib Dems, it’s an endorsement of the Lib Dem role in coalition now it’s become clear that the party is needed to ensure the Tories continue in Government. The Independent’s endorsement says that almost explicitly, and when even the Sun is recommending that people vote Lib Dem in seats that threaten Labour, it’s clear that something’s up.

Those endorsements aren’t about backing Liberal Democrat principles or wanting to see the party govern on its own, they’re about binding the party permanently into the right-wing bloc within the Parliamentary arithmetic to ensure Cameron can stay in office. ‘We backed you as part of the coalition, so now you have to go ahead and be part of it again’ will be the message given out on Friday and afterwards with the expectation being that negotiations won’t be over whether there can be another coalition with the Tories but merely what shape it will take and which pledges the Tories will symbolically shed to let it happen. Unless Labour can confound this narrative by winning both in terms of votes and seats, there’ll be extraordinary pressure to ensure that ‘the winner of the election’ be allowed to form a Government. It’s highly unlikely Cameron will find the press calling him ‘the squatter in Downing Street’.

And yes, Liberal Democrat members will have a say in deciding if the party goes into coalition again or not, but the same pressure of the narrative will apply here. How dare you presume to go against the winner of the election? The people have spoken! We must be in Government to ensure it’s stable and legitimate, etc etc The membership will get a vote, but they’ll only get to cast that vote once the media have decided the frame it will be cast within – do you support a stable government for the country, or do you want to bring the illegitimate losers to power and send the entire country into chaos? Besides, we’ll likely here how the Federal Executive and Conference are just arcane committees stuffed full of sandal-wearing bearded weirdos who shouldn’t be allowed to hold the country to ransom. And what’s all this about a two-thirds majority being required? That’s just some bizarre procedural foible that’s standing in the way of us having the stable government we need.

The narrative is being built and the rest of the media will fall in line with it, just as they have with mediamacro, because it makes it so much easier if you can portray elections as having clear winners and losers. Complexity – especially the idea that elections might not be about simple winners and losers – takes time to explain, the narrative wins out. We need both to challenge it and build a counter to it, or everything will be settled by the time our brains are working properly again on Saturday.

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Russell Brand is not a cult. And there’s no typo in that previous sentence.

However, some of the reaction to his recommendation that people (mostly) vote Labour on Thursday appears to be a assuming that he is, or at least a cult leader. ‘Young people’ supposedly follow Brand’s every utterance and do exactly as he commands them, so by this logic none of them will be registered to vote and his endorsement means nothing. Or they’re registered to vote, and that proves his endorsement means nothing. (Some people are claiming that Brand told people not to register to vote which I don’t recall, so if anyone has evidence of that, I’d be grateful)

electoral-commission-voting-graph-860x390As we can see, there’s actually been a large number of people registering to vote during the campaign, and they appear to be mostly younger voters, precisely the type of people who are more likely to pay attention to Russell Brand (whose interview with Ed Miliband is now getting close to 2m views, by the way). It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that those people may well have heard Brand advocating not voting last year and thought ‘yesh, I’m not going to vote!’ and then put that consideration to the back of their mind. Then, when the election rolled around and there was lots of publicity about how important it was to register to vote, and social media was full of people saying ‘hey, it’s really easy to just click here and register’ those very same people would have thought ‘yes, I’ll register to vote’. Even if we’re assuming that these people are strongly influenced by Brand, he wasn’t doing anything at the time that would have led people to reject the ‘register to vote’ messages. Thus, it’s entirely possible for people to be fans of Russell Brand and also for them to be registered to vote and receptive to his message to vote Labour.

The point is that people get their information from a number of sources, which an election campaign ought to make clear. Most people don’t have strong opinions on most political subjects, and they’re very strongly influenced by what they’ve seen or heard and accepted most recently and for most people who hear it, Brand’s endorsement of Labour will be just one of many they hear between now and Thursday. Yes, there may be a small number of people who didn’t register to vote because of what he said and are now desperate to vote Labour, but unless his persuasive powers are akin to those of a cult leader, I doubt they’ll be more than a very few. (And for more on the whole issue of how people come to make political decisions see this post and read the books I talk about there)

A couple of things that may be of interest to you: the BBC look at how political party colours have developed over the years, and some of the traditional colours still in use; and the New Statesman look at the times when interesting things might occur on election night, though the PA’s result timings are quite often subject to wild variation on the night. One thing I remember from 1992 was that there were several seats thought to be in a race for the first result, and correspondents had been dispatched to all of them in anticipation of getting the first result. Unfortunately, no one had predicted that Sunderland was going to claim that title, and so there were no cameras there to pick up the declaration, which left everyone feeling a little embarrassed, but since then no one has come close to Sunderland’s speed of counting. Unfortunately, I don’t think now that any local authority would be able to build a Sunderland-rivalling counting operation effectively in secret to pull of that sort of shock again.

Some of the research from the Qualitative Election Study of Britain that I worked on last week is now being published, if you’re curious about their findings. The good thing about qualitative research is that you can publish snapshots and points of interest from it without having to wait until the end of the whole project and then run a big statistical analysis on anything. There may be more parts to come, and there are also some post-election focus groups taking place as part of it to find out more about the process of how people decided to vote and what they think of what’s happened since then.

OK, so we’re now in the single-candidate parties in our trawl through the list, and today I’ve discovered the Children Of The Atom party and such a marvelously X-Men-esque title was guaranteed to get my attention, especially when I discovered their sole candidate was standing in that hotbed of radioactive futurism, Shrewsbury. Their website covers a lot of areas and resists being boiled down to a few pithy phrases, though I’ll try. Their name comes from being atomists who “place value on the individual above all else”, but that comes a way down the page after a lot of stuff about positive money creation, debt and other related concepts. However, I would expect to find out more about them soon as “We will shortly recruit a nationwide team comprised of the most extraordinary, gifted and highly intelligent people in the UK, to oversee a radical and visionary ground-up reconstruction of all social, economic and government systems.” Which should be interesting to watch.

Finally for today, our dive into the pile of Election Leaflets finds us Ken Martin, an independent candidate in Maldon who wants to restrict all laws to no more than two sides of A4. He appears to have taken this approach to his own leaflet, deciding he has to give the voters his views on everything in a similarly small space of paper. There’s a lot of ideas and information in there, regularly marred by One of my Least Favourite tactics of the Amateur political screed writer of putting Random Capitals on words with no Rhyme or reason. Besides, doesn’t he realise that if you want to write in depth about your obscure political you should get a blog?

To justify the headline of this post, here’s some REM to play you out:

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milibandstoneAnd lo, it didst come to pass that someone in Labour HQ took the words ‘my pledges are carved in stone’ far too literally. I’ve been involved in enough election campaigns to know that at this point – five weeks in! – everyone’s starting to get quite frayed at the edges, and ideas that seemed poor a few weeks ago will suddenly look like utter genius because they’re new, fresh and different. You’ve been looking at the same leaflets in the same design for weeks, and so naturally the idea of carving your pledges into a massive block of stone will initially seem like the greatest idea in the history of political ideas. It’s just that at some point between the meeting that comes up with that and someone placing the order to the stonemason for it, there needs to be someone in the loop who says ‘hold on, has it not occurred to you that this is a really stupid idea?’

Indeed, there’s an idea for future Governments to implement. Just as ancient Rome tempered the ambition of the triumphant general with a slave telling them to remember they are mortal, so the Government could do with an Office of It’s A Bit Of A Shit Idea, Isn’t It? or an independent Institute of Mockery And Pointing Out The Obvious Flaws. During Parliaments, they could examine all proposed policy and then take on a wider role during elections, of informing parties just how silly their new idea would make them seem. I’ll happily take on the job of setting up one or both of them, especially as there’ll be no one yet in place to tell them how bad an idea that is.

Anyway, let’s pause for an election advert.

Lifestyle!

We’re into the all hands to the pump stage of campaigning now, where the priority is knocking on as many doors and delivering as many leaflets as you can before polling day and hoping no one makes a major error that messes everything up. It’s a chance to try and tactically squeeze as many voters as possible, and deliver enough messages to your supporters just in case they’ve forgotten it’s election day on Thursday. People who live in marginals and have gone away for the bank holiday weekend will likely come home to small mountains of leaflets delivered while they were gone.

So with just a few days to go, competition for the final places in my minor party of the day slot has reached fever pitch. Or no pitch at all, leaving it entirely up to me to choose the Young People’s Party and its two candidates as today’s party. The first thing I’m going to say is the obvious one: looking at the pictures of senior party figures, they don’t look that young. Young by the standards of most people involved in politics perhaps, but not young by the standards of society. Their manifesto is interesting and goes some way to explaining the name as they’re an explicitly Georgist party, strongly in favour of Land Value Tax because it supports the ambitions of the young more than the current system in their view. Indeed, the manifesto is interesting because it starts strongly with calls for LVT and Citizen’s Income, but slowly descends into oddness and down the pub ‘I reckon’ policies that moan about political correctness and sub-Clarksonian moaning about climate change science. It’s a party I can’t quite see the point of – though it’s always good to see Georgism being promoted – and one I doubt will be causing any great shocks on Thursday.

Today on election leaflets, we find that Dennis Skinner doesn’t even stick to the party line for leaflet design. The only concession to modernity appears to be that the photo is now in colour, but his style of campaigning has kept him in Parliament for 45 years, so why change it? Elsewhere, I know I’ve said I want leaflets to look different and use varied design principles, but this independent candidate in Bath appears to have gone a bit too far down the ‘leaflets that look like they’re from an estate agent’ path. Or for crazy leaflets, Mike Nattrass is still pushing his ‘An Independence From Europe’ party, complete with scary photo, and going back a few weeks to one of the earliest nutty leaflets I featured, Mike Walters has now discovered he can’t call himself an SDP candidate so is now an ‘independent troublemaker’, though I suspect the Poppy Appeal may be complaining about the picture on the back.

As I was writing this we went past the point where there were 100 hours left until the polling stations close on Thursday. The election’s getting very close, very fast…

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Less than 100 hours until the polling stations open, and thoughts are naturally turning more and more to just what the result of this election will be. Like everyone else, I’ve been pondering the various post-election deals that are possible and it feels to me that the key number of MPs either Labour or the Conservatives need to win to have a chance at forming a stable Government is around 290.

My thinking’s based on the current numbers for MPs from the other parties being suggested by the various forecasts: an SNP total of 40-50+, Liberal Democrats winning somewhere between 25-30 seats, Northern Irish seats remaining roughly the same, UKIP winning around 3 or 4 and Greens holding their one seat. What I assume is that neither Labour nor the Tories would make a deal with the SNP, but either would make one with the Liberal Democrats. What we can also do is assume that even in the absence of a deal, the other parties are likely to vote in a certain way, especially on issues of confidence.

The reason 290 is key is that it’s the point at which either main party in agreement with the Lib Dems would have enough support to be able to expect to win votes in Parliament regularly. For example, a Labour-Lib Dem government would expect the regular support of the SDLP and (Northern Ireland independent) Sylvia Hermon, and could probably count on Plaid Cymru and the Green’s Caroline Lucas (as well as Alliance’s Naomi Long if she’s re-elected) giving support as well in exchange for some concessions. So, 290 Labour MPs, plus 25-30 Lib Dem MPs and 10-12 others gives a Parliamentary majority without needing any deals with the SNP. Indeed, such an agreement would create a headache for the SNP (and George Galloway): vote against it and they’re voting with the Tories, abstain and they’re doing nothing in Parliament.

On the other side, the same applies but with fewer parties involved. With the support of the DUP, 290 Tories allied with the Lib Dems would have enough seats for a majority in Parliament without the need for any formal deal with UKIP (who’d face the same ‘vote with Labour or do nothing’ dilemma as the SNP in the other scenario) though getting Lib Dems to agree to a deal that formally involved the DUP might be tricky. Indeed, assuming that getting Lib Dems to agree to any deal is a simple matter of getting Clegg on board with it fails to account for the role of the wider party in agreeing it, as Jennie explains here.

They key point here, though, is that for both Labour and the Tories, 290 looks like being the key number of seats to win on Thursday (though that can go up or down depending on how many Lib Dem seats there are – the key figure is having around 315-320 for the two parties combined). If one of them (and the maths suggest it will be only one of them, unless the Scottish polls are way off) can make it there then they will very likely form the core of the next Government, but if neither of them can, then we can expect a long period of coalition negotiation and deal-making before we get a new Government and the shape of it won’t be clear for much longer.

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I do enjoy it when elections give British people the chance to passive-aggressively display their arguments to the rest of the world:


And you just know that there were probably some very intense negotiations between those people about which poster went where in the window to ensure equal exposure.

My prediction of the royal baby bringing a bit of a break from campaigning to allow for a regroup before the final charge to polling day doesn’t seem to have come true, mainly because it all happened so quickly. There are still news sites with live updates, but it’s barely filling a whole day’s news with speculation, let alone spreading out over the weekend and allowing for any time off. Tomorrow’s big TV interviews have already been booked in, the schedule’s already set and nothing will knock it off course. Indeed, all leaders need to do nowadays is make sure they’ve fired off a tweet or two of congratulations, and then get back to campaigning. Meanwhile the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are having a conversation around the issue of ‘but I really like the name Nicola, why can’t we use it?’

Here’s something interesting I’ve read today: an article on academic blogging site The Conversation about the prospects of David Cameron actually being able to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU before a 2017 referendum. It makes clear what I’ve always thought – there’s no desire amongst the other members of the EU to open up treaties and renegotiate, and if there was then it’d be a much more fundamental process that wouldn’t happen until after 2017 when the next French and German elections are set to take place. In effect, Cameron’s promise of a renegotiation and a referendum before the end of 2017 looks as though it’s built on sand, and the only thing he can offer by then would be a referendum on membership on the current terms against a backdrop of him having failed to deliver on his promise of reform. I’m sure that the referendum would be fought on the substantive issues not on broken promises, just like the AV referendum was.

Meanwhile, David Cameron is telling 99.9% of voters that their votes don’t matter:


But hey, we don’t need electoral reform in this country and the system isn’t completely broken.

With not much else to talk about today, let’s look at the minor party of the day, who today are the not-so-massed ranks of the Patriotic Socialist Party. (I’m not going to link to them directly because while they seem more Illinois Nazis than actual Nazis, they’re still Nazis) I find them of interest because they sometimes seem to be electorally stalking me having consistently stood candidates in Redditch (where I was born and raised) and Colchester (where I live) though with a stunning lack of success in both. Their performance in last year’s Wivenhoe by-election was a particular highlight, obtaining only 2 votes in an election where you need ten proposers and seconders to stand. They’re best described as the British version of the Strasserites in that they’re Nazis who emphasise the socialism in their name as much as the nationalism. The Strasserites were purged out of the original Nazis, and while no one seems to be in a position to purge the PSP out of their own party, their message is – thankfully – not meeting with anything resembling success so their two candidates in this election (standing in neither Redditch nor Colchester) will merely be providing a useful £1000 to the cost of running the elections.

A double dispatch from Election Leaflets today, with two leaflets for minor candidates in Worsley and Eccles South. First we have independent candidate Geoffrey Berg who wants to give you more time, but isn’t quite clear about how he’ll manage that. It seems to be through a shorter working week, but the lack of detail is one example of how independent candidates miss out by not having other people to point out that they might want to rewrite that leaflet to get their message over more clearly. There’s also a candidate from the Reality Party standing there and even though the leaflet has a big picture of him on it, it’s not Bez.

Tonight’s the last flurry of Saturday night polling results for this election. Will any of them show something other than variations within the margin of error? And when will a pollster ask the most important question of all: what are people’s opinions on Balustrade Lanyard?

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It’s been yet another day of potential coalition deal and red line statements, which is a refereshing change from the restating of the same policies in several different ways. Now we just get the same information about coalition deals being expressed in many different ways, of which the most pertinent information is that Ed Miliband doesn’t want to work with the SNP, David Cameron still won’t rule out any deal with UKIP and Nick Clegg will be happy to work with either of them, but he’d prefer an exclusive relationship. All of this does make me wonder if there’s a huge tempting of fate going on, and what we’re going to get is the polling situation unravelling over the next week so someone gets the barest of majorities. At that point, we all get to spend a few years discovering just how much any large political party is a coalition. Just imagine the fun of watching David Cameron held to ransom by the Better Off Out wing, or any attempt at radicalism from Miliband being stymied by the Blairite rump.

Anyway, Alex Harrowell has a good post on why the number of undecided voters polling is finding in Scotland explains Miliband’s current antipathy to the SNP.

We’re seeing more and more newspaper and other endorsements as polling day gets closer, but I think we’re going to look in vain for anyone endorsing the Liberal Democrats. That hasn’t spotted some people squinting and claiming that a ‘if our preferred party can’t win, maybe consider backing them’ is a proper endorsement because slim pickings are better than nothing, right? Jennie Rigg explains here why those sort of endorsements really aren’t good news, and at the time of writing still hasn’t had one of the pod person disciples of bland centrism come along to tell her how wonderful life is in the middle.

Away from the middle, let’s go to the North East instead for today’s minor party looking to make a breakthrough, and it’s another one of England’s regional parties, the aptly named North East Party. They’re standing four candidates (all in the North East, obviously) on a programme of bringing in a proper North East Government on a par with the other devolved governments of the UK. They do appear to have a positive manifesto – talking up what they want for their own region, instead of complaining about what others have – and also proposing to fund the regeneration of the North East through introducing a land value tax, which automatically pricks up my old Liberal ears.

Parties like the North East Party and Yorkshire First (who I looked at a couple of weeks ago) are an interesting development in the development of English politics after the Scottish referendum, and indicate the problems that could come in trying to find a one size fits all devolutionsolution that covers all of England without any regionalism. Of course, this could all falter at the ballot box, but their candidates are mostly in seats where people can cast a vote for them without too much worry as the results a foregone conclusion.

Finally, here’s a little bit of oddness found on Election Leaflets: a leaflet clearly targeted at Labour voters in Wallasey (Angela Eagle’s constituency) and seeming to encourage them to vote for UKIP, but actually from the Conservatives. It’s a deeply weird leaflet, criticising Labour from the traditional left – Danczuk’s ‘metropolitan elite’ claims and Ed Miliband is pro-auterity, for instance – and an odd comparison of the parties at the end of it. Apart from the imprint and a small ‘Conservatives’ on the front, you’d have no idea who it came from with the aim seeming to be pure negative campaign, suppressing the Labour vote in an effort to benefit from the wrecking tactic. It’s the sort of thing that would previously have been a local curio, but now we all get to see it – and point Tories to it when they complain about other people being negative.

145 hours and thirty minutes till the polls close and the real fun begins…

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