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 second week of the general election campaign.
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Following the launch of Labour’s manifesto last week, calling for a ‘future fair for all’, the Conservatives published their ‘invitation to join the government of Britain’ on April 13th. Cameron pledged to stop tax credits to families earning more than £50,000, raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million and cut spending on child trust funds for all but the poorest third of families. The manifesto also included a promise to block a third runway at Heathrow plans to build a high-speed rail link between London, Birmingham and Manchester.
The Liberal Democrats followed with their own manifesto on the 14th, promising ‘fair taxes, a fair chance for every child, a fair future and a fair deal by cleaning up politics’. Among the policies pledged by Clegg included cutting class sizes, scrapping tuition fees, scrap the Trident nuclear weapons system, and reject the creation of new nuclear power stations.
‘I agree with Nick’
The election campaign this week was dominated by the first TV election debate – a political first in the UK after attempts in the past to arrange them.
Broadcast on April 15th on ITV and hosted by Alastair Stewart, the three main political leaders debated on the NHS, education, immigration, law and order, trust in politics and reform of the political system.
Watched by a peak audience of 10.3 million, snap polls after the debate declared the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg the victor by a clear margin.
With both the other leaders often saying they ‘agree with Nick’ during the debate, the party managed to pull ahead of both the Conservatives and Labour in some opinion polls this week. One poll even suggested Clegg was as popular as wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. However, this ‘yellow surge’ declined towards the end of the week, leaving them almost tied with Labour.
Seeing the potential threat from the party, some of the more Conservative and Labour-leaning press attacked Clegg, with defence secretary Bob Ainsworth criticising their plans to scrap Trident, calling their proposed alternative “cheap and ineffective”.
Outside of the three main parties, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) also launched their manifesto this week – one that Nigel Farage would later disown and describe as “drivel and nonsense”.
Calling for ‘straight talking’, the party called for cuts to quangos, a flat rate tax for all Britons, scrap inheritance tax and a referendum on membership of the European Union.
Farage, standing in the seat of Buckingham against the Speaker John Bercow, paid his £500 deposit to run as a candidate in
However, leader Lord Pearson was caught out in an interview with Jon Sopel on April 19th, where he appeared to have no knowledge of what was in the party’s own manifesto.
The Green Party, who were also vying for their first seat in parliament, also launched their manifesto this week. Party leader Caroline Lucas, standing as a candidate in Brighton Pavilion, called for reform of the tax system to redistribute income to poorer people, introduce a living wage of £8.10 an hour and invest £44 billion in transport, energy and housing schemes.
Amid the canvassing and campaigning, a major natural disaster in Iceland disrupted some of the travel plans of the political leaders.
The Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which had been erupting since March 20th, began spewing a volcanic cloud of ash into the air, which spread across the European continent as well as parts of Canada. Due to the danger posed by the ash cloud, airspace across Europe was closed for the best part of a week – creating the largest level of air travel disruption since the Second World War.
In Britain, flights were grounded on April 15th due to the volcanic ash causing travel disruption across the country. Airports reopened on April 20th, but further limited disruption would end up taking place in May.
In other news
A small selection of some of the other stories that made headlines this week 10 years ago
- David Cameron slams the possibility of a hung parliament, saying that such a result would lead to politicians “fighting over their interests, not the public’s”
- A man appears in court charged with murdering his wife at their village post office – it was initially claimed the death of 40-year-old postmistress Diana Garbutt of was part of a robbery
An average of opinion polls over this week put the Conservatives ahead by six percent on just over 34 percent, down from an average of 37.9 percent last week. The Liberal Democrats jumped from 20 percent to 27 percent this week, almost neck and neck with Labour.
Although Labour are a relatively distant second, a seat projection on this result estimates the party could remain the largest party by a narrow margin.
Party election broadcasts
The first Conservative and Liberal Democrat party PEBs took to the airwaves this week. The Conservative broadcast highlighted members of local communities who represent the ‘Big Society’ the party was promoting.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrat broadcast called for ‘decent, open politics’ and an end to broken promises – a pledge that would not age well.
Next week, Nick Clegg comes under greater scrutiny as the three leaders prepare for the next TV debate.