To mark ten years since the 2010 general election, I will be looking back at the election campaign as it happened 10 years ago to the day. Each week I will be doing a recap of the campaign as it happened, including the pivotal moments that decided the victors and the vanquished.
In this blog, I’ll be taking a look at the events that made up the first few days of the general election campaign.
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The election campaign began in earnest on April 6th when the Prime Minister visited the Queen to dissolve parliament and call the general election for May 6th.
The following day, Gordon Brown and David Cameron faced off for the final Prime Minister’s Questions before the general election. However, both main party leaders found themselves in small scandals. Cameron was caught cycling without a helmet, and Brown was heckled about school provision when campaigning in central London.
On April 8th, Cameron announced plans for a national citizen service for 16 year olds in an effort to stop a “pointless waste of potential” among young people. The scheme would see them take part in outdoor activities and help in their local community.
Meanwhile Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling criticised the economic plans of the Conservatives as “misleading” voters.
The Tories were embroiled in another scandal on April 9th, after a Conservative candidate, Andrew Bridgen, said he has “considerable sympathy with B&B owners who want to refuse gay customers. This came just days after shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling expressed similar sentiment. Cameron had spent the day campaigning alongside London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Labour also found themselves in hot water, with Labour’s prospective candidate for Moray being forced to stand down for comments made on Twitter, including describing Diane Abbot as a “f***ing idiot” and the elderly as “coffin dodgers”.
April 10th brought another policy announcement from the Conservatives – this time, a new tax break for married couples and civil partners worth up to £150 a year. However, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg described the policy as “patronising drivel” and as belonging to the Edwardian age.
Some in Labour had seemingly given up on any chance of an overall majority in May, with former Cabinet minister Clare Short saying that Labour had “lost its way” and that a hung parliament would be good for the country, in an interview with the Today programme on April 11th.
Finally, Labour launched their election manifesto ‘today’, promising ‘a future fair for all’. Among the party’s pledges include an increase in the minimum wage, a promise not to raise income tax and a guarantee to ensure patients will get cancer test results within a week.
David Cameron criticised the manifesto as being “empty” and called on the British people to back “real change” by voting Conservative.
In other news
A small selection of other news stories from this week 10 years ago:
- The Kyrgyz president flees the country amid anti-government protests in the capital Bishkek.
- The president of Poland Lech Kaczynski is killed along with 95 others after his plane crashed near Smolensk, Russia. He was due to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.
- Policing and justice powers are devolved from Westminster to Stormont. David Ford, leader of the Alliance party, becomes Minister of Justice in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
An average of opinion polls over the first week put the Conservatives ahead by just over seven percent, but short of an overall majority in parliament.
Party election broadcasts
The first PEB of the election campaign was broadcast on April 12 (‘today’) from the Labour Party. The broadcast, featuring Sean Pertwee and David Tennant, was watched by almost nine million people.
Next week, the party leaders get ready to face off against one another in the country’s first-ever television debate, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats launch their manifestos, and a volcanic eruption in Iceland looks set to cause disruption to flights and the election campaign.