Election Diary

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Indy Politics

Good day

Good day

For travel agents, who reported a rush in bookings to avoid tomorrow's general election. A poll by travel firm expedia.co.uk said one in 10 Britons would flee the country this week.

Bad day

Michael Howard, who won fewer mentions in the papers than Chelsea Football Club in the past month, one survey shows.

Optimist of the day

Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin, who has let it be known that political journalists are invited to a post-election bash at the Treasury on Saturday.

Gaffe of the day

Agony aunt Claire Rayner, who could not quite remember Michael Howard's name as she endorsed Charles Kennedy at yesterday's Liberal Democrat press conference. "What's his name?" she asked. "You know, that man?"

Clash of the day

Jonathan Dimbleby dared to suggest that Tony Blair needed Gordon Brown alongside him when the Prime Minister could not say how much Britain borrowed last year. Mr Blair replied: "Thank you. We could put [Dimbleby senior] David there too."

Quote of the day

"Tony Blair, go back to the city. That's the only place you are welcome. Stop smiling. I haven't got words for you. Go away back to the city." - Pro-foxhunting campaigner Otis Ferry

Q&A

Q1 Who said: "My wife would kill me if I even contemplated that."

Q2: Who said: "I urge everyone who has lost loved ones in Iraq to ensure that Mr Blair is not re-elected; a man who made such gravely impaired decisions should not be allowed to run this country."

Q3: Who suffered their own tax bombshell yesterday?

Great British elections: 1983

The British General election of 1983 created New Labour, because the performance of the old, unreformed, Labour Party qualified as a near-death experience. Down to not much more than a quarter of the vote, lower than 1979 and only a whisker ahead of the SDP/ Liberal Alliance, only the vagaries of the first-past-the-post system and the funding of trade unions saved Labour. The long process of reform and recovery under Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Tony Blair culminated in the 1997 victory. Michael Foot, Labour's leader in 1983, was a courteous and principled man with a party incapable of being led. It could not agree on its manifesto, a compilation of policy documents, famously characterised as the "longest suicide note in history". The Tory prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, ran an efficient campaign with a united party and nearly all the press on her side. An improving economy, despite mass unemployment, the "spirit of the Falklands" and strong leadership helped her to a landslide.

Sean O'Grady

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