Politics Summary: Tuesday, April 27th

Conservative support among gay voters has dropped to 9 per cent, according to a Pink News poll reported in the Guardian. The poll of 911 LGBT people shows the Liberal Democrats on 58 per cent, Labour on 21 per cent, Conservatives on 9 per cent, and Green party on 8 per cent. In June 2009, 39 per cent of the gay community said they intended to vote Conservative. Pink News reports that, “The Conservative Party’s standing within the LGBT community has been damaged by secretly recorded comments by the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling … [and] comments made by shadow defence minister Dr Julian Lewis who said an equal age of consent has led to an HIV risk.”

The papers continue to speculate about the outcome of a hung parliament. The Guardian reports that Nick Clegg has not ruled out the possibility of doing a deal with the Labour party but could not work with a Brown PM if Labour came third. Labour’s election coordinator, Douglas Alexander, said: “My sense is that Nick Clegg has somewhat overreached himself – maybe intoxicated by the publicity he has received.” The Times reports that the Conservatives have turned their fire on Mr Clegg. David Cameron said he was trying to “hold the country to ransom” by demanding electoral reform. Senior Tories told the Financial Times that Mr Cameron would be unable to get his MPs to agree to the legislation needed for a referendum on PR. Meanwhile, the Telegraph report that the Conservatives  released a party election broadcast from the “hung parliament” party. George Osborne claimed that there would also be a “dip in confidence”, a run on the pound and “disastrous” rises in interest rates that would “paralyse” the country. But at the press conference, the shadow chancellor appeared confused as to whether markets were spooked or not.

Four opinion polls published yesterday appear to show the three parties bunched within five points of each other. Each show the Conservatives below 35 per cent and Labour in third place. UK polling report says, “it does create the impression that the slight Tory recovery towards the end of last week is fading.” Their poll of polls suggests that Labour is 62 seats of an overall majority. Political Betting called it the “Tories’ bad polling night” and point out that “a 32% share is LESS than what Michael Howard’s Tories achieved in 2005.” The Guardian reports that the poll shows, “Conservative support is holding firm, with 83% of supporters saying they do not expect to change their mind before polling day. By contrast, only 69% of Lib Dems and 68% of Labour voters say they will stick with their current choice.” The FT says, “Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system is facing its biggest test in almost a century.”

The Guardian reports that Gordon Brown yesterday published his party’s health manifesto. Mr Brown confirmed legal guarantees for every woman to choose a home birth and to give terminally ill people a right to palliative care at home. He won two standing ovations from delegates at the Royal College of Nursing annual conference after what the paper called “a highly personal speech”. The Conservatives today focus on their theme of “broken Britain” with David Cameron giving a speech at Iain Duncan Smith’s think tank. Labour will focus on family policy.

The Times reports that Parliament will lose much scientific expertise after election. The paper finds that, “The number of MPs who have worked in scientific research at doctoral level is likely to fall from eight to one after May 6”. Phil Willis, the retiring Lib Dem chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said: “I think there is a massive danger that science — because it will not have political champions — will struggle to have its voice heard and to find its rightful place. Just three of the expected new intake have science PhDs — Stella Creasy, Therese Coffey and Julian Huppert.

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