General election recap: week ending 03/05

By Siva Thangarajahpoll

With less than one week to go, we can see most parties pulling out all the stops as they attempt to get a lead on the closest election in decades.

In the aftermath of the tragic crisis in the Mediterranean Sea where boats carrying Libyan refugees capsized, Ed Miliband took his chance to gain a bit of political capital. He criticized David Cameron and the previous government for not investing in ‘post-conflict planning’ after the UK’s intervention in Libya in 2011. However, due to the fact that he backed UK’s UN-sanctioned intervention and has also not commented beforehand on any form of post-conflict support or planning, this move has attracted criticism for politicising on a humanitarian crisis. This argument dominated the cycles towards the beginning of the week, with Tory and Lib Dem leaders claiming that Ed Miliband was attacking Cameron for the current Libyan crisis, whilst Labour members claimed the leader was showing his support for the international community and the Tories were simply  trying to ‘whip up a storm’.

On a more amusing note, Miliband was interviewed by Russell Brand, no doubt as a way to convince the younger, more politically disillusioned electorate. In the interview, he challenged Brand’s position that people should cause a ‘political revolution’ by abstaining to vote, which social media largely responded to with amusement.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are still facing questions about the issue of their proposed cuts to the welfare budget and where exactly they will fall. They faced further criticism when the Liberal Democrat chancellor, Danny Alexander, revealed that his party had blocked £8 billion worth of cuts in the coalition, which would largely limit the child benefit allocation. Of course the Conservatives denied this; however, with an upcoming £12 billion cuts to social spending, people are apprehensive about whether some of these proposed changes to child benefit might be implemented in a future Tory government.

Finally, Thursday night saw a Question Time Special event, where the three main party leaders took questions put to them both by David Dimbleby and a very tough studio audience. Cameron was grilled by the aforementioned issue of possible child benefit cuts, which he was blatantly evasive on, saying that he does not ‘want’ these cuts, meaning he may implement them anyway. Meanwhile, Miliband denied that the last government borrowed too much, igniting laughter from the audience, and finally Nick Clegg faced a no-holds-barred attack on him over his apparent inability to keep his political promises.

In the aftermath of this event, the party leaders appear to accept the fact that as the polls stand, a majority outcome is very unlikely. As a result, they have given the clearest answers concerning which minority parties they are willing to compromise with, and which they aren’t. On Friday morning, Ed Miliband confirmed that he would rather not form a Labour government than go into a formal coalition with the SNP. However, if Labour wins and they press on with a minority government, they would have to whip votes from other parties on a case-by-case basis. However, the Conservatives will have to either do the same, or form another Lib Dem coalition, but this time with UKIP in the sidelines. Nigel Farage has said that although he will assist such a government, he will not be forming any formal coalitions.

With only four days until the election this coming Thursday, the media and polls suggest a hung parliament, or a minority government, which will be extremely unstable.

Photograph: Wikipedia 

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