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 last few days of the general election campaign.
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Even in the last few days of the election campaign, there was still time for a few events that would have an impact on the election – with both Labour and the Conservatives embroiled in scandal.
Labour’s candidate for North West Norfolk Manish Sood criticised Brown, describing him as the worst Prime Minister the country has ever had, and called on him to apologise to the Queen.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives saw an activist from Peterborough arrested for alleged postal voter fraud.
The smaller parties were not immune from last minute crisis, either. Days before the election saw two scandals plague the far-right British National Party. The head of the party’s online operation resigned, redirecting the party’s website to his own which attacked the BNP’s leadership. As well as this, video emerged of one of their councillors attacking a group of Asian teenagers when campaigning for Nick Griffin in Barking.
And, perhaps most notably of all, UKIP candidate for Buckingham and future leader of the party Nigel Farage, was involved in a plane crash in an election day stunt. A propeller plane that was carrying a UKIP banner got caught in the tailplane of the aircraft, forcing the nose down and causing Farage and the pilot injury. Farage would have to watch his election result from his hospital bed.
Outside the election saw a major financial event occur in the United States just hours before the polls were due to close across Britain.
Stock markets across the world were down as a result of the ongoing debt crisis in Greece, with the Dow Jones down more than 300 points for the day. However, at around 7:30pm UK time, stock indices collapsed, with the Dow Jones plunging an additional 700 points within minutes – almost 10 percent of its value. However, stocks soon rebounded dramatically, again within just minutes. In the roughly 30 minutes the crash lasted, $1 trillion in market value had disappeared, albeit temporarily.
Such a rebound in stock prices had been unprecedented and, in the investigation that followed, a London based trader was arrested and later sentenced for his involvement in the crash.
The Conservative lead which had been building over the last few weeks solidified fully by the time of the general election – with this final average poll suggesting a 6.5 percent lead over Labour which, according to a BBC seat projection, would leave them 46 seats short of a majority.
The average poll also puts the race for second place neck and neck in terms of vote share, with the Liberal Democrats and Labour within 0.4 percent of each other. What seems almost certain from all the opinion polls of the campaign is that Nick Clegg will almost certainly be in the position of kingmaker and be able to crown either party leader to lead the country.
Newspaper and magazine endorsements
By polling day, almost every newspaper had announced who they were backing in the general election, with four papers who had backed Labour in 2005 switching their allegiance; three to the Conservatives and one to the Liberal Democrats. The Daily Mirror stood alone among national daily newspapers in backing the Labour party, with even the Morning Star refusing to make an official endorsement of the party.
Among news magazines, both the Spectator and the Economist backed the Conservatives, with the New Statesman encouraging tactical voting against David Cameron.
In the next blog
Next time, I’ll take a look at the actual results of the 2010 general election, how they compared with the target seats of the main parties, and who were the big winners and losers of the night.
I will also take a peek into the first conversations that began around forming a new government.