General Election

Some of the papers show Tories and Labour neck and neck, although others show the Conservatives ahead by a whisker.

Sky News’ poll of polls suggests neither party will be able to form a majority government next week.

The latest clutch of opinion polls show the Conservatives and Labour vying almost neck-and-neck with neither likely to be able to form a majority government after the General Election.

ComRes for The Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror puts Labour and the Conservatives level pegging on 33%

An Opinium poll for The Observer also has the two biggest parties almost neck-and-neck with the Tories on 35% one point up on last week and a point ahead of Labour who are also up one on 34%.

UKIP are unchanged on 13%, the Lib Dems down one on 8% and the Greens down one on 5%.

In the The Sunday Times, YouGov has the Tories on 34%, Labour on 33%, UKIP on 13%, the Liberal Democrats on 8% and the Greens on 5%.

Survation in The Mail On Sunday has Labour on 34%, three points ahead of the Conservatives on 31% with UKIP on 17%, the Lib Dems 8% and the Greens 4%.

Sky News Poll of Polls, has the Conservative’s one-point ahead on 34 to Labour’s 33. And our Scottish poll of polls, and we find the SNP on 49% ahead of Labour on 25%.

The latest Sky News poll of polls – which averages all the polls to give an overall picture – suggests the Conservatives are one-point ahead on 34 to Labour’s 33.

The Guardian agrees.

Reaching out to friends? According to the latest Guardian projection of polls, the sum of the ‘anti-Tory’ bloc – those parties that have said they would vote a Tory government down – would add up to 329 seats: a majority

The country is firmly on course for another hung parliament with the Tories and Labour neck and neck in the final Opinium/Observer poll before Thursday’s knife-edge general election.

With just days of campaigning to go in what promises to be the closest contest for a generation, the Conservatives enter the final stretch a point ahead of Labour, making the result too close to call.

Opinium’s findings suggest six weeks of fierce campaigning have done little to shift the share of the vote between the parties. The Tories are on 35% (up one point on last weekend) while Labour is also up one on 34%. Ukip, again defying expectations that it might fade in the late stages, is unchanged on 13%, well ahead of Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats on 8% (down one). The Greens are on 5% (down one) and the SNP remain on 4%.

The Independent thinks the Conservatives will have the most MPs but it won’t be enough.

Each week since this general election campaign began, The Independent on Sunday has asked the heads of the 10 top polling companies for their predictions.  We combined their estimates, where they gave them, to arrive at the projected number of seats in the new House of Commons, excluding Northern Ireland.

Now it is crunch time. We can reveal the pollsters’ final forecasts. Their average prediction is that the Conservatives will win the most seats but won’t be able to put together a majority. So, Ed Miliband would become prime minister with the support, whether he wants it or not, of the SNP.

The Conservative lead over Labour widened again in the average forecast over the past week.

Conservatives 279 seats (+1 since last week); Labour 270 (-3); Scottish National Party 47 (+1); Liberal Democrats 27 (+1); Ukip 4, Plaid Cymru 3, Green 1, Respect 1 (all unchanged).

And the Sunday Times claims Cameron will continue as Prime Minister even if he doesn’t have a majority in the Commons.

THE Tories have taken the lead in the race for Downing Street as senior Conservatives revealed that David Cameron is planning to continue as prime minister even if he lacks a Commons majority.

Today’s YouGov poll for The Sunday Times puts the Conservatives on 34%, one point ahead of Labour — a reversal of recent surveys. A second poll by Opinium also put the Tories one point in front, suggesting that the momentum is with Cameron.

Senior Tories say the prime minister is planning to declare victory if he gets the most seats and votes on Thursday. He is expected to give a statement in Downing Street on Friday if the Tories are “clearly the largest party” — forcing Ed Miliband to strike a deal with the Scottish National party (SNP) to bring him down.

The Guardian predicts ‘political paralysis’ will follow the election as the parties jostle for position.

Britain faces “weeks not days” without an effective government following Thursday’s general election if David Cameron wins the most seats and tries to renew his coalition vows with Nick Clegg, according to senior Tories and Liberal Democrats.

A Tory-Lib Dem coalition Mark Two is seen as one of the most likely results of an extremely close election. But senior MPs from both parties revealed they have deep reservations about such an outcome, and are privately planning to force their leaders into gruelling and protracted negotiations that could last well into the summer.

The latest Observer/Opinium poll has the two main parties neck and neck, with the Tories on 35% and Labour on 34%. The Liberal Democrats are on 8%, but are expected to secure more seats than their national polling would suggest. The Tories were also a point ahead in the Sunday Times/YouGov poll while a ComRes poll had the two main parties level on 33%.

The outcome of the election remains too close to call, and it is possible that Labour could emerge as the largest party, or could form the next government even if it fails to win the most seats. But senior Tories and Lib Dems believe the most likely outcome is a hung parliament with the Conservatives winning the highest number of seats.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said that in the event of a hung parliament he would open talks with the largest party. But Tory backbenchers, who are resentful at Lib Dem influence during the last coalition, are determined to force Cameron to offer them a secret ballot on any potential deal with Clegg, allowing them to block the creation of another coalition without a fear of retribution for their decision.

In other General Election news, The Express reports a comment by UKIP’s deputy chairman Suzanne Evans on the party’s conditions if the Tories want a pact.

UKIP would do a deal with the Conservatives but will not compromise over its commitment on defence spending, deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has said.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express, Miss Evans said Ukip would work with the Tories if it matched the manifesto commitment to spend two per cent of the UK’s GDP on defence. She said other potential negotiations would involve the Tories agreeing to a rapid referendum on EU membership, as well as their pledge not to levy tax on those earning the minimum wage.

Miss Evans expects to play a key role in any talks, which may begin as early as tomorrow and focus on a post-election pact. She revealed: “Yes, we could work with the Conservatives. But we couldn’t work with Labour while they refuse to have an EU referendum.”

Miss Evans, seen as the party’s rising star after writing its manifesto, predicts Ukip will win at least eight seats but claims there may also be a “few surprises along the way.”

She faces an uphill struggle to win power in Shrewsbury but said: “We will also get a lot of second places and that will be a launch pad for 2020.”

She has been tipped as a future leader and said: “If Nigel Farage did stand down for whatever reason and he asks me to stand then I would.”

And Breitbart warns that Labour WOULD do a deal with the SNP.

Their final push comes as yet more Labour figures admitted Ed Miliband would be willing to link up with Nicola Sturgeon to secure the keys to Number 10.

Despite a lacklustre start to the campaign David Cameron’s party is widely seen to have stepped up a gear in the last few weeks as a result of the traction gained from fears of the SNP. In the dying days of the campaign the Tories have launched four ‘Battle Buses’ with activists hoping to persuade Labour voters to dump Miliband over the issue.

The plan was boosted this morning when the former Labour Scottish First Minister, Henry McLeish, described a deal with the SNP as “the politics of reality”. McLeish told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I can’t bind Ed to anything but, look, you know well enough that the pragmatic political side will say, ‘I’m going for a majority, all this talk of speaking to anyone is out of the question’.

“On the other hand, the politics of reality say I would rather see Ed Miliband in No 10, no matter the conditions. But certainly that’s the big alternative to David Cameron. At the end of the day, Ed is not going to exclude himself from being prime minister by not talking to anyone.”

McLeish joins Andy Burnham and David Blunket, both of whom have already admitted Miliband would need to consider an SNP deal.

One seat the Conservatives have sent a Battle Bus to today is Amber Valley in Derbyshire where the former Tory MP Nigel Mills is standing for re-election. He is defending a majority of just 536, and was joined on the bus by the government minister Nick Boles.

In Nigel Farage’s seat in South Thanet, a question has been raised over the painting of a mosque in support of one of his opponents, reports Breitbart.

The East-London Shacklewell Lane Mosque, which is also the headquarters of the UK Islamic Trust, was persuaded to to paint the dome mural by Reality party candidate Nigel Askew because of his hard-left views on Multiculturalism and Islamic faith. The Guardian reports Askew’s comments, where he explained he was able to diffuse tension with older, more conservative mosque goers by praying with them: “I went for Friday prayers and around 1,000 people were there, and they were a bit taken aback about the mural, especially some of the older members.

“But I understand that it is a bit outrageous and unheard of to paint a mosque like this. I prayed with them, and met them afterwards, and everyone agreed with the message”.

If the religious political message is investigated by the electoral commission, it could take precedent from the recent nullification of the mayoralty of political fraudster Lutfur Rahman, who was convicted of conspiring with Imams in East London to force Muslims into voting for him. The relevant law, which deals with ‘undue spiritual influence’ was introduced during the reign of Queen Victoria to deal with Catholic priests influencing the votes of Irish electors.

The Reality party is standing on a joint ticket with the Green party in South Thanet, campaigning on a platform of ‘ending fracking in Thanet’, promoting ‘multicultural society’, and nationalisation of assets. Nigel Askew, South Thanet pub landlord who decided to stand after comedy pub landlord Al Murray stood as a publicity device for his comedy tour lampooning Nigel Farage said of the mural: “South Thanet has been consumed with propaganda on immigration, spreading a message of fear and racial disharmony.

The Guardian gives an insight into what to look for on election night.

The broadcasters’ exit poll, published as the polls close at 10pm, will set the tone for the night. The Commons arithmetic for Labour is this: it can rely on seven very likely seats from anti-Tory minors (Plaid, SDLP, Greens) alongside those from the SNP, which is committed to voting against any Conservative government. Therefore the key number to watch is the combined “anti-Tory” Labour and SNP seat total, and the “magic number” Labour activists will look for is 316. If Labourand the SNP win this many seats between them they can vote David Cameron out of office with support from the anti-Tory minors.

Early seats are safe, so the the focus will be on the the swing from Tory to Labour. Ed Miliband probably needs a swing of 3 to 4 points in England and Wales to secure an “anti-Tory” majority – this is the benchmark for Labour in early contests.

The first true target to report will be Nuneaton at about 1am, a traditionally Labour-leaning seat needing a 2.3-point swing. Labour will look for a comfortable win. Northampton North and Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire will provide two more early markers – the first is a must-win, while victory in the latter will point to a swing above 4 points and a strong night south of Hadrian’s wall.


Away from the election, the Express reports that the party’s migration spokesman Steven Woolfe says that the EU is blackmailing the UK to take more migrants.

UKIP has accused the EU of “cynically exploiting a humanitarian act” for its own gain after a row over migration quotas put rescue efforts in the Mediterranean on hold.

HMS Bulwark, the Royal Navy’s flagship, and the frigate HMS Kent were directed to join a European rescue initiative after 800 migrants, bound for Italy from Libya, drowned in the worst single incident in the Mediterranean for two years.

But that has been delayed as senior civil servants fend off pressure from Europe to grant thousands of migrants asylum in Britain.

Prime Minster David Cameron’s offer was made only on condition that Britain deposited migrants to the nearest safe countries – in this case, Italy or Malta.

However last night Foreign Office sources suggested that France and Italy were clamouring for Britain to “take its fair share” and accept up to 25,000 asylum seekers. The news was greeted with fury by Ukip yesterday, with migration spokesman Steven Woolfe accusing the EU of exploiting the situation.

He said: “It is to Britain’s credit that we were the first nation to offer and place real maritime support into the Mediterranean to help Italy.

“What seems to be happening is cynicism at its most repellent. Our humanitarian efforts are being held up by the wish of our Continental friends for Britain to be a full part of the EU asylum system. It looks as if the migrants lives are being held hostage to a dream of greater European integration. Shame on them.”

Balls bounces cheque

And finally, the Mail reports a bounced cheque written by potential chancellor Ed Balls.

Ed Balls faced ridicule last night after two cheques he sent to a tradesman bounced – at a time when he is campaigning to be put in charge of the country’s finances.

The Shadow Chancellor sent the cheques to a glazier who had carried out work at the £1million London home he shares with his wife, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

Incredibly, the bank refused to honour the £150 cheques and sent them back to the outraged tradesman, Brian Ford, stamped with the words ‘NO ACCOUNT’.

After the first cheque was refused, Mr Balls sent Mr Ford a hurriedly scribbled six-word apology on House of Commons notepaper with a second cheque. His note read: ‘Here it is – sorry about that’.

But the second cheque was also turned down by the bank. Both cheques, sent within 15 days of each other, were from a joint account, marked ‘Mr Edward M Balls and Ms Yvette Cooper’.

Last night, Mr Ford dubbed the Shadow Chancellor ‘bouncing Balls’ and said he had been ‘incredibly stupid’, while Mr Balls’ political opponents leapt on the revelation.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps warned that ‘the man who wants to be in charge of the nation’s finances can’t even look after his own’.

Mr Balls defended his actions by saying the chequebook was linked to a bank account which had been closed in 2012 after being hacked.

The fiasco started last October, when Mr Balls tried to settle Mr Ford’s £150 glazing bill with a cheque drawn on the NatWest joint account.

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