Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Election 2010 : Day 2

Gordon Brown clashed with David Cameron and Nick Clegg at the last Prime Minister's questions of the parliament. Most of the day was dominated by the National Insurance row, of which I have blogged earlier about.

The Prime Minister started the day with an interview on GMTV where he attacked the Tories' plan to curb the National Insurance hike, saying business leaders who backed the plan had been "deceived" into thinking it would boost economic recovery. Mr Brown then visited the HQ of Innocent Smoothies, where he met its young staff.
First Sectary State Lord Mandelson then made a speech to Progress and the Foreign Press Association, he made an highly animated address to his audience saying that the Tories cannot offer change, "just confusion" and pose "a clear and present danger" to Britain's financial recovery.

Mr Brown then was in the Commons for possibly his last PMQs, he clashed with David Cameron on defence equipment, pensions, business leaders and on the National Insurance Row. The Prime Minister used some clever footwork to twist Cameron's once celebrated description of Blair that "he was the future once", telling the Tory leader: "To think you were the future once." Although I would have thought Mr Brown's "special advisor" Alastair Campbell would have prepped him on some more quips aimed at Mr Cameron.

Meanwhile John Prescott was having a good day. The former deputy PM, who today kicked off his campaign tour in an 11-seater minibus, was greeted with a kiss by two young women in Carlisle.

Mr Brown then went on to make a speech on constitutional reform, at the HQ of the CBI, that was was pretty much walking into the "lions den", after accusing business leaders had been deceived by the Tories. In his speech he promised a new era of transparency, he pledged to have a referendum on a alternative voting system, a wholly-elected House of Lords, fixed date parliaments, a written constitution and the rabbit out of the bag (typical Mr Brown); was a a pledge to ban all MP's from working for lobbying firms.
He then attended a People's PMQs, at MSN's headquarters in Central London, the PM put in a splendid performance showing himself as a man of substance and a man with a plan for the future of his country.
Mr Brown also done a range of broadcast interviews with BBC, Sky and Channel 4. In them he announced Labour would pledge to not increase the basic rate of income tax but didn't repeat his accusation that the business leaders backing the Tories had been deceived.
The Prime Minister ended the day with members of his cabinet, taking some time out from the campaign trail to take to the phones at Labour HQ. They rang voters all over the country getting to know first hand what their concerns and issues were.

David Cameron began the day cycling to the Commons for PMQs, although he was lambasted for not wearing a cycle helmet. 'Headway', the brain injury association, said it was "deeply disappointed". Mr Cameron although did put in a good performance at PMQ's, he joked that Diageo chief Paul Walsh was in fact a Labour advisor but was "probably a Tory now. So are half the country". The Tory leader was undoubtedly the winner of the last battle in the Commons, although in my view his performance wasn't anything special, its just Mr Brown wasn't anywhere near his best.

Mr Cameron then flew to to Bolton to visit Warburton's bakery, where he took questions from the bakery's employees and met with the firm director, incidentally the director was one of the first business leaders to endorse the Tory plan to curb National Insurance rise. The Tory leader then flew to Wales, ending the day with a Q&A session with employees and local business people at a Cash and Carry.

The Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg started the day with an interview on the Today programme, he said a hike in VAT is a "cop out". He wants instead a 10% levy on the profits of the banks, scrapping ID cards, biometric passports and Child Trust Funds.

Later in the morning, Mr Clegg held his first press conference of the 2010 campaign, and he went on the offensive, accusing the Conservatives and Labour of a "corrupt, two-party stitch up" in which they have blocked all reform as they pretend to campaign for it.
At PMQ's, Mr Clegg attacked the Prime Minister on political reform and also shouted towards Labour MP's that "You've failed! It's over - time to go."

He then flew to Liverpool to make a visit to the Penny Lane Development Trust in Liverpool. He signed his name on a wall bearing a painting of the Penny Lane street sign, prompting jokes that he was encouraging graffiti.

The second day of the campaign was pretty much dominated by the NI row, the guardian are reporting that Labour will launch a fightback on that, I am certainly looking forward to that!