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New politics? Looks like more of the same to me

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When I interviewed David Cameron earlier this year after an event at Thomson Reuters in which he, George Osborne and Ken Clarke delivered their views on the economy under a “Vote For Change” banner, I suggested that watching three white, middle-aged men talking about what was good for Britain didn’t feel much like change to me. Cameron jokingly replied that Clarke, 69, would be flattered to be described as middle-aged.

The Conservative leader then shifted in his seat, sat up straight and talked seriously about all the hard work his party was doing to field more female and ethnic minority candidates. His new Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, talks repeatedly of a “new politics” and how this time politicians will do things differently.

True, we have a coalition for the first time since the Second World War — but, after that, the handful of ministers who will be running government don’t represent much of a change. Of the 16 senior cabinet positions Cameron announced on Wednesday, there are just two women — one of whom is also the only one non-white cabinet member.

And, true, one of the top cabinet jobs — Home Secretary (interior minister) — has gone to a woman but, as someone joked to me yesterday, the fact that’s she’s also minister for women and equality looks like a typing mistake. Her real title, they suggested, should actually have been ‘Home Secretary, and token minister of women and equality.’ Theresa May, the new Home Secretary, will struggle to shake off suggestions that she got the job not on merit but rather because Cameron and Clegg didn’t have a lot of senior female politicians to choose from.

from The Great Debate UK:

Cameron tasked with changing Brits’ expectations

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-- Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. The opinions expressed are his own --

After thirteen years, it’s all over. The New Labour project is dead. Or is it? Tony Blair brought British politics to the centre-ground and ensured that a single party could support free-market economic policies as well as social justice.

How long can the negotiations go on?

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It should have been all over now. But no, we’re on day five and no one really seems to know which way things are going to go.

All over Westminster, people are looking tired. Journalists, politicians, aides and most of all the 24-hour news anchors.

The big rescue package has bought the politicians some time

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They promised us market meltdown if there was a hung parliament. That was the Conservative pitch before the election.

That isn’t quite what happened. The pound did fall a bit, so did gilts and stocks but most losses were made up by the end of the first day after the result became known, which had been widely expected.

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.

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.

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?

How did the party leaders fare on Twitter?

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There was no undisputed winner, according to the snap polls which followed the second leaders’ debate in Bristol last night. The instant polls were split on who had won, with three saying LibDem leader Nick Clegg was the victor and another two placing the Conservatives’ David Cameron in first place.

“The three main party leaders were unable to land a knockout punch on their rivals,” said Reuters correspondent Peter Griffiths, reporting from Bristol yesterday.

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