Election Diary

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Good day

Good day

Norman Tebbit, the Chingford strangler, 74, mauled Mark Macgregor, the Tory chief executive under Duncan Smith, now candidate in Thanet South - a "destructive force".

Bad day

John Redwood, the Tories' invisible deregulation spokesman, who has been confined to barracks in Wokingham. The BBC caught up with him, offering the Today programme. Redwood leapt at the chance; Tory HQ vetoed.

Entering the lexicon

Labour left-winger Alan Simpson has been asked twice in as many days at public meetings whether, in Brian Sedgemore's words, he renounces "Tony Blair, the Devil, New Labour and all their works". Mr Simpson replied both times: "I have never been a Blairite."

Lie Detector

Kenneth Clarke, the former Tory chancellor, who declared: "I think we are in with a chance of winning".

Gaffe of the Day

Kiera Spear, from Haverhill, Suffolk, received her voting card. She is just eight months old. Her mum, Glenda, said: "She watches television but she hasn't shown any interest in Mr Blair or Mr Howard or Mr Kennedy. She likes Thomas the Tank Engine."


1: Who said: "Being called a playboy politician by Peter Hain is like being told to sit up straight by the hunchback of Notre Dame"?

2: Who is begging the voters: "Don't force me to sell my new house or send my wife out to work."

3: What did Charles Kennedy tell primary school children were his favourite foods?


1: George Galloway, Respect candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow. 2: Austin Mitchell, Labour candidate for Great Grimsby, who says he would not know what to do if he lost his seat after 28 years. 3: A meat pie from his favourite butcher in the Highlands and vanilla ice-cream.

Great British Elections: 1959

"Life's better with the Conservatives - Don't let Labour ruin it." The persuasive idea that "you've never had it so good" put forward by Harold Macmillan's Conservatives helped the party achieve its third successive victory, and the third increase in its parliamentary majority, topping 100. Prosperity was the key to the triumph of "Supermac", below. Rising prosperity marked by the growth in households possessing such novel luxuries as television sets was underpinned by full employment, virtually zero inflation and steady, if unspectacular growth. Yes there was a feeling that Britain was starting to lag behind her European neighbours and that, as the US statesman Dean Acheson was shortly to observe: "Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role", but on the whole the voters were content with the Tories, and almost half voted for them. For Labour it was a disappointing defeat, even though it held 43 per cent of the vote.

Sean O'Grady