Forty-six million eligible to vote today from 7 a.m. -10 p.m. with first results expected around Midnight.
Until the polls close, British radio is only allowed to speak about the election in terms of turnout and what the weather is like in any particular constituency.
No silly media voter polls outside the real polls, perhaps the single worst predictor of anything, as John Kerry supporters foolishly assumed they'd won in 2004 because they led in those polls.
Surprise, George W. Bush voters had no compelling interest in talking to pollsters on their way out of the building so those results were skewed while the real ones were not.
As I write this, I'm listening to BBC Radio 1's The Chris Moyles Show and they're talking about what they're allowed to say and do on-air today and what they'll do after they leave the studio, with one of the crew saying that he's going to go home, wake up at 11 p.m., turn on the TV and eat a pizza that he ordered yesterday.
They seem genuinely surprised that you can pre-order a pizza and a fabulous reference was made to that great scene in Back to the Future where Marty McFly gets a FedEx delivery out in the middle of nowhere sent by Doc Brown years before.
C-SPAN's election "coverage will include a simulcast of the BBC Election Results starting at 4:55pm ET on C‑SPAN3, comprehensive analysis of the returns from key constituencies, and interviews with leading politicians."
See more at: http://www.c-span.org/Series/Prime-Minister-Questions.aspx
Earlier, you at 7 p.m. you can watch the one-hour BBC World News America newscast on BBC America.
A country is at its best when the bonds between people are strong and when the sense of national purpose is clear. Today the challenges facing Britain are immense. Our economy is overwhelmed by debt, our social fabric is frayed and our political system has betrayed the people. But these problems can be overcome if we pull together and work together.
If we remember that we are all in this together. Some politicians say: ‘give us your vote and we will sort out all your problems’. We say: real change comes not from government alone. Real change comes when the people are inspired and mobilised, when millions of us are fired up to play a part in the nation’s future.
Yes this is ambitious. Yes it is optimistic. But in the end all the Acts of Parliament, all the new measures, all the new policy initiatives, are just politicians’ words without you and your involvement.
How will we deal with the debt crisis unless we understand that we are all in this together? How will we raise responsible children unless every adult plays their part? How will we revitalise communities unless people stop asking ‘who will fix this?’ and start asking ‘what can I do?’ Britain will change for the better when we all elect to take part, to take responsibility – if we all come together. Collective strength will overpower our problems.
Only together can we can get rid of this government and, eventually, its debt. Only together can we get the economy moving. Only together can we protect the NHS. Improve our schools. Mend our broken society. Together we can even make politics and politicians work better. And if we can do that, we can do anything.
Yes, together we can do anything. So my invitation today is this: join us, to form a new kind of government for Britain.
David Cameron: The Big Society
The Conservative Manifesto 2010:
Times of London
Vote of Confidence
The Conservatives offer an optimistic vision for the renewal of Britain. The electorate has made a call for change and they deserve the chance to answer itThe Times has not endorsed the Conservative Party at a general election for 18 years. For far too much of that time, the Conservative Party turned inward and vacated the ground on which British electoral victory is won — a commitment to the prosperity and liberty fostered in a free-market economy and a sense of justice in an open and tolerant society. Tony Blair’s Labour Party took up the promise of modernity, through its commitment to enterprise and the courage to stand tall in the world. Sadly, over the past 13 years that promise has faded. We all know that Britain can do better: it is surely time to regain our optimism.
This election offers a fundamental choice about the future of this country. It offers a moment to put old-fashioned tribal loyalties, class prejudices and social habits aside. We must choose. Either we are to be a country that has lost confidence in the ingenuity and potential of its people, and concludes that the State must continue to grow to protect us from ourselves. Or we can be a country that cares for the needy but reins in the ever-growing appetite of government and frees up people to grow their businesses, nurture their families and pursue their own hopes and happiness.
At an acutely difficult moment in our history, The Times puts its faith in the people rather than the government. It chooses a strong society, more enterprise and a smaller State. It chooses real, radical change. It chooses renewal.
Perhaps the best advertisement of the Labour years can be glimpsed in a scene outside Belfast City Hall on a clear day in December 2005. There, to the backdrop of cheers and pleasure rather than the sound of guns, in a city whose industrial decline had been replaced by the prosperity that has come with modern technology, the first civil partnership was signed. Not everything that was promised and hoped in the roseate glow of 1997 came to pass but one would have to be hard of heart to say that Belfast — like Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds — is not a better place today than it was 13 years ago. Under Tony Blair, Britain also had a formidable presence on the world stage under a Prime Minister who backed the EU’s embrace of countries from the former Soviet bloc while also recognising the importance of the transatlantic alliance. In Kosovo, in Sierra Leone and in Afghanistan, Britain’s military capacity was mobilised in defence of a noble principle. The same applies to the Government’s decision to go to war in Iraq in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. And the Government also merits praise for its handling of the banking crisis, which, for an alarming moment in 2007, looked like it might threaten capitalism itself. Those who supported Labour — including this newspaper — can look back with some satisfaction.
But the costs have been too high. A Chancellor who had proclaimed an end to boom and bust embarked on a spending spree of remarkable improvidence. Public sector staff now earn £2,000 a year more on average than their private sector counterparts. Spending rose, over the Labour years, by an extraordinary 54 per cent. Productivity lagged behind. Gordon Brown savaged the private pensions industry and sold off the bulk of Britain’s gold reserves much too cheaply. In short, Labour squandered the boom. Even excluding the cost of the bank bailout, which was necessitated by the global credit crunch, Britain is now borrowing £163 billion a year. Mr Brown’s pitch at this election is that voters should not risk the recovery by backing the Conservatives. He does not seem to realise that the greatest threat is more of the same. Yes, the economy is in peril. Mr Brown is the danger.
Britain has also paid a high price in terms of trust in politics. What began as a professional spin operation in Downing Street became a machinery of deceit. Anonymous briefings by figures such as Damian McBride and Tom Watson, part of the cabal around Gordon Brown, dripped poison about opponents both inside the Labour Party and outside. The public stopped believing in official statistics as the Budget became plagued with double-counting, and the real cost of new schools and hospitals was kept off balance sheet. The 10p starting rate of tax was abolished purely to score a political point. The nadir of this style of politics was Mr Brown’s refusal to fund the mission in Afghanistan properly and his repeated denials that he had done so, culminating in a false claim before the Chilcot inquiry that defence spending had risen every year. After ten years in which he was found wanting in the top job, for the past three he has just been found wanting.
This campaign has been electrified by the rise of Nick Clegg. He seized the first television debate and became the overnight sensation of British politics. It was always likely that the electorate’s anger over greedy MPs and their sense of expenses entitlement would affect this election. But what a gloriously British revolution it turned out to be. Anger and dismay go on the march, and the Liberal Democrats do a bit better.
But the Liberal Democrat prospectus for power still reads like that of a party that has no expectation of victory. There is still something soft-headed about its pitch. Mr Clegg’s approach to the euro has in the past been misguided, but these days it is just muddled: he was for entering; now he is against entry; and he wants to leave open the possibility of entry in the future. He is prone to bouts of rank anti-business populism. Was it really necessary to weigh into the Kraft-Cadbury bid — to play the Whole Nut card — in the TV debate on the economy? Surely he cannot think all bankers are greedy? Worse, Mr Clegg’s approach to the biggest economic problem of the day, the deficit, is to duck it: he wants to hold a meeting. Abandoning the Trident nuclear missile system would be a mistake, parading fanciful figures for the cost savings is an error. Breaking up the banks would be counter-productive: the investment banks would become far more dangerous. If Mr Clegg understands this he is not admitting it. Mr Clegg has built a platform that might allow him to go back to his constituency and prepare to be the Opposition. He has yet, however, to build a serious platform to prepare for government.
That is something that David Cameron has been able to do. Today’s Conservative Party is a very different party to that which went to the country in 2005. Mr Cameron has led that change. It is now clear that the modern Conservative Party believes in the importance of reducing the burden on enterprise and entrepreneurship. Its priorities on education, social policy and the environment are those of a modern, innovative force in politics. Its young leadership has the energy, intelligence and integrity to govern.
More modernisation still would be welcome. The party’s desire to maintain the aid budget is a victory for political branding over good sense. Its policies on the National Health Service put a tactical desire to neutralise Labour attacks before the need for radical reform. The Conservatives also retain a worrying streak of pessimism about foreign policy. Mr Cameron’s decision to remove Conservative MEPs from an alliance with mainstream centre-right parties in the EU may have seemed principled to him, but it was also short-sighted. Britain must not shelter behind foreign policy realism to retreat to a Little Englander role in the world.
In 2005 the Conservatives put an illiberal approach to immigration at the centre of their campaign. In 2010 the voters have demanded that immigration be central and the Conservative response has been measured and intelligent. Mr Cameron has made his party think again about the condition of the nation. His bold vision of a “Big Society” — that there is such a thing as society, but it is not necessarily the State — is powerful. The idea that competition will raise standards in public services, using the State as a catalyst, is the right idea for the 21st century. It is the point where new Labour left off. Mr Cameron’s social liberalism has brought a more diverse set of candidates into his party. He has acted ruthlessly against racism and against MPs who abused their expenses.
None of this has been easy. It has been bought at the cost of some unpopularity with his backbenchers. All the more reason that Mr Cameron, and his chief lieutenants George Osborne, William Hague and Michael Gove, should be commended for their decisiveness and determination. These are qualities that this country now needs.
The central question of this general election is the economic future of the nation. The Conservative Party has shown the most consistent willingness to deal with the atrocious State of the public finances that this Government will bequeath. Under fire from Mr Brown, they have held to this unpopular line. Amid the sound and fury, a fundamental philosophical difference has emerged: the Conservatives want to reduce excessive public expenditure, the Labour Party wants to keep on ratcheting up benefits, tax credits and other forms of state spending. One party recognises the benefits of individual independence. The other keeps fostering a state of benefit dependency. In the race for growth with India, China and other rising countries, the Conservatives know that Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit needs to be unleashed.
The economy is broken and so is politics. It is time for a change, in both the philosophy and the style of government. It is time for us to believe in the power of the individual, the strength of society and the unique promise of this country. Labour is tired, defensive and ruinously reliant on higher government spending. David Cameron has shown the fortitude, judgment and character to lead this country back to a healthier, stronger future. It is time, once again, to vote Conservative.
Times 2010 election homepage: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/