UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from The Great Debate UK:

The Disunited Kingdom

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- Paul Henderson Scott has written numerous books on Scottish history, literature and affairs, including ‘A 20th Century Life’ and its sequel, ‘The New Scotland’. He has been Rector of Dundee University, President of the Saltire Society and of Scottish PEN and a Vice-President of the Scottish National Party. The opinions expressed are his own -

BRITAIN SCOTLANDThe recent election has revealed more clearly than before the profound divide between Scottish and English opinion. The Conservatives have 297 seats in England but only one in Scotland (plus eight in Wales). As Joyce McMillan said in The Scotsman, “Our pattern of voting increasingly marks us out as a nation apart”.

Both of the two major Scottish papers had headlines like: “The Disunited Kingdom”. Much of the English press, or at least their Scottish editions, drew the same conclusion. "The Daily Mail" said that Britain is now "a nation of two tribes”. Magnus Linklater in "The Times" said that, “England and Scotland may share a boundary, but this weekend there is little common ground between them”.

If the Conservatives form the next British Government they have no moral right to legislate for Scotland where they have only one parliamentary seat.

What now for Cameron’s agenda?

The big question is what happens to David Cameron’s modernisation agenda if he has to rule with a minority government.

Cameron had a lead of around 25 points or more against Labour not so long ago. But if tonight’s exit poll is right he is now short  of a majority.

Elections don’t get more exciting than this

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It’s going to be a long night! Cliffhanger, nailbiter, whatever you want to call it — it doesn’t get more exciting than this.

Polls closed just over two hours ago and the exit polls show we are clearly in hung parliament territory. The Conservatives are projected to have the most seats at 305, but that’s 21 seats short of an overall majority.

Twitter users still agree with Nick

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One the eve of the general election, our exclusive Twitter analysis of political sentiment shows that while the latest opinion polls point to a late rally by Gordon Brown’s Labour Party, users of the micro-blogging site still favour Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats over the other two main parties.

US market research firm Crimson Hexagon (on behalf of Reuters.co.uk) has been archiving all tweets on British politics since March 22 and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. All parties have had their ups and downs, most notably in the aftermath of the first leaders’ debate (which led to a spike in support for the LibDems and the hashtag #iagreewithnick trending on Twitter) and Gordon Brown’s “bigot” gaffe in Rochdale,which gave us the highest percentage of negative tweets for any party during the campaign.

from Matt Falloon:

Brown soldiers on

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If a car slams into a bus stop just yards away as you launch a last-ditch election offensive, you might be forgiven for thinking that the gods are
not on your side.

But even after the nightmare week British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has had, such portents of doom have little visible effect on the self-proclaimed underdog in this, one of Britain's most closely fought parliamentary elections for 25 years.

Twitter users give their verdict on final leaders’ debate

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The snap polls say Tory leader David Cameron was the victor of last night’s final leaders’ debate, but what did users of micro-blogging site Twitter make of the three main prime ministerial candidates?

Analysis of political tweets by research firm Crimson Hexagon for Reuters.co.uk shows a spike in positive LibDem tweets, up to 22 percent from 14 percent the previous day. Pro-Labour sentiment fell four points to 8 percent, while pro-Tory tweets improved only slightly from 3 percent to 4 percent, despite the widely-held view that Cameron out-performed his two rivals last night.

Debate novelty wears thin

Thank God it’s over! The magic was certainly gone in the last of the three TV debates. Or perhaps we have just become too accustomed to this particular reality show which just seemed unexciting after the excruciating embarrasment of watching Gordon Brown being forced to apologise to a pensioner after he was overheard calling her “bigoted”.

The economy was meant to be in focus. But we heard nothing from any of the three party leaders we have not heard before. Labour’s Gordon Brown asked the public to trust his judgement. He called it right in the banking crisis and the economy cannot withstand spending cuts right now.

Twitter users turn on Brown after “bigot” gaffe

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We’re still waiting to find out if Gordon Brown’s gaffe in Rochdale yesterday (if you missed it, he called a 66-year-old, lifelong Labour voter a “bigoted woman”) does serious damage to his party’s performance in the opinion polls. What is certain is that it was the first serious blunder of the election campaign and the shockwaves were immediately visible on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Throughout the election run-in U.S. research firm Crimson Hexagon has been conducting exlusive research for Reuters.co.uk — archiving all UK political tweets and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. The three main parties have each experienced ups and downs throughout the campaign. Not surprisingly, we saw a spike in positive Liberal Democrat tweets  following Nick Clegg’s impressive performance during the first leaders’ debate, while positive sentiment towards David Cameron’s Conservatives has dwindled since we started analysing tweets on March 22.

Jokes wear thin at ill-tempered Labour event

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MandelsonLabour strategy chief Peter Mandelson berated the media at a press conference this morning for failing to focus on policy. Then he repeatedly side-stepped questions on the most important policy challenge of all: where are the tens of billions of pounds of spending cuts needed to halve the deficit going to come from?

Of course Labour are not alone in dodging that thorniest of questions. David Cameron keeps repeating that his Conservatives have gone “further than any opposition in history” in spelling out proposed spending cuts, starting with 6 billion pounds in unspecified “efficiency savings” this year. But his insistence cannot mask the fact that the Tories’ planned cuts, like Labour’s and indeed the Liberal Democrats’, add up to only a fraction of what is required.

Will a hung parliament create a serious hangover for British business?

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parliamentElection day is fast approaching and with the poll gap narrowing between the Conservatives and Labour, there is a very real probability that the UK will end up with a hung parliament. For the first time since 1974, the UK may be left without clear political leadership.

- What will this really mean for British business?
- How will the markets and sterling react?
- Will a hung parliament scare off international investors?
- Could the economy survive a second general election within a year?

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