The week's news from outside Westminster.
• A report in the Financial Times suggested that the Conservative were looking for a deal with the smaller parties from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the event of a hung Parliament.
• The SNP lost its legal case to be included in the UK leaders’ debate. The judge, Lady Smith, declared that the SNP’s case “lacks the requisite precision and clarity”. The party’s Deputy Leader, Nicola Sturgeon, confirmed that the case would go to judicial review, continuing, “Scottish viewers will now be deprived of an alternative to the cosy Westminster consensus of the London parties and their shared cuts agenda.” Labour’s Iain Gray said “This was a desperate attention-seeking stunt by a party who have nothing to say in this election.”
• A populus poll kept Labour way ahead of the others in Scotland, but the Cleggmania effect continued.
• The Conservatives were forced to sack its candidate in North Ayrshire and Aran after describing homosexuality as “not normal”. Following his sacking, he failed to apologise, continuing, “I will not accept that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or encourage children to indulge in it.”
• The BBC’s Scotland debate saw leaders clash over how Scotland should be funded.
• Nick Clegg concluded that the Tories were “irrelevant” in Scotland and the SNP were “irrelevant” south of the border.
• Following David Cameron’s interview with Jeremy Paxman, Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain warned “With every passing day David Cameron’s big society sounds more and more like the same old Tories – tax cuts for the few at the expense of cuts to essential services.”
• Peter Hain rang the Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff to apologise for the Foreign Office memo on the Pope’s forthcoming visit to the UK. The Archbishop, Peter Smith commented, “I said the Holy Father is old enough and wise enough and experienced enough not to let something like this put him off-course but it’s a great shame this happened. I think an awful lot of Catholics were very offended.”
• In a busy week, Hain questioned whether the core of Lib Dem supporters would stomach Clegg doing a deal with Cameron in a hung Parliament.
• Welsh Lib Dems came in for criticism over fake photos on their election literature.
• In a statement to Assembly Members, Health Minister Edwina Hart confirmed that the Government might seek powers to impose a minimum price for alcohol. She continued, “I am very clear that if we do not see the action we want at UK level very soon, then the time will come when we seek more powers to act ourselves.”
• Conservative AM, Darren Millar dubbed as “frivolous” the £100,000 spent on rebranding the National Assembly during the recession.
• Parties in Northern Ireland lined up to condemn David Cameron for identifying Northern Ireland as the top of the list for cuts. DUP Leader and First Minister, Peter Robinson concluded, “David Cameron showed his true colours. The man who the Ulster Unionists said would stand up for the Union is picking on Ulster for additional cuts in services and jobs.”
• Economic Commentator, Will Hutton warned that Northern Ireland faced cuts whoever wins the election.
• Left Foot Forward reported on heightened security measures across Northern Ireland as voters prepare to go to the polls. 200 reserve police officers will be retained, delaying moves to abolish the reserve force.
• Gerry Adams was warned that dissident republicans were determined to kill him and other senior republican politicians in Northern Ireland.
• The Alliance Party launched its manifesto, with party leader, David Ford declaring, “Politicians need to deliver solutions and leadership, not problems for the people that elect them. In this election, parties should be judged on their work and their policies, and parties trying to create tribal constituency stitch-ups should be punished for their selfish actions.”
Quote of the Week
“If you look at choice before the people of Scotland at this general election, it basically comes down to a choice between Labour and the Lib Dems. The Conservatives are as irrelevant north of the border as the SNP is not really in the game south of the border.”
Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg speaking on Radio Scotland’s “Good Morning Scotland” programme
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