UK General Election 2001:

* The Guardian* The Independent* The Mirror
* The Sun* The Sunday Times* Evening Standard
* electronic Telegraph* The Times
* moreover news digest* The Daily Record* The Herald
* Belfast Telegraph* The Scotsman*
* Campaigning UK
* BBC News* ITN* Sky News
* CNN Special

It is not the intention of this site to provide a news service but, as in the 1997 campaign, I shall keep a 'diary' of what seem to be interesting and significant events relevant to the campaign.

& Mouth

Graph of new cases of Foot & Mouth per day
Wed 6th JuneThe final day of the campaign. That's a refief. This has been an abysmal campaign. There's only so much deceit, dissembling, and avoidance of the question that I can cope with. Tonight I shall recuperate in the hands of WNO's Tosca.

Accusations of electoral fraud are made against SinnFéin.

ICM/Guardian poll gives Labour 11% lead. I suspect this might be an election in which this overall lead is not a uniform one, but made up of widely differing amounts in different places, making the actual outcome hard to predict. It will be interesting to see how the polls have performed. If they are right, I think that will tell us something interesting about the nature of modern society. If not, the polling organisations will have to do some serious rethinking. The level of turnout will be particularly interesting. My feeling is that people are deeply apathetic and feel somewhat helpless in the face of declining public services. I suspect many feel as I do when I walk past the fine statue of Aneurin Bevan, at the end of Queen Street in Cardiff, and then think of the current state of the NHS and the quality of modern politicians like Alyn Michael, Ron Davies, Tony Blair, Robin Cook, or Peter Mandelson, to name but a few.

Tue 5th JuneA leaked draft of a National Audit Office report seems to confirm that NHS waiting list figures have been manipulated.

In last night's Newsnight interview, Blair refuses to rule out a rise in the National Insurance ceiling while at the same time trying to give the impression that there will be no change. An evasive performance.

Hague outlines the steps he would take in the first two weeks of government, presumably in the expectation that this will counter the impression that he has given up hope.

MAFF denies rumours that there will be an extensive cull of animals as soon as the election is over. The NFU (which over the years has been hand-in-glove with MAFF) also says it knows nothing about this. But, there are persistent reports of large block hotel bookings for vets and slaughtermen, large numbers of lorries being hired, and a lot of police leave being cancelled. So ... if there is to be no cull, what's that all about?

More fears about electoral fraud surface.

Independent poll gives labour 11% lead.

Former Tory Junior Minister, Anthony Nelson, defects to Labour, but I don't think anyone has noticed.

Mon 4th JuneLast night's Panorama exposé of the way New labour has been dishonest about NHS investment figures (by triple counting) reinforces doubts about the MAFF statistics on F&M. 6 new cases today and, by their reckoning, 77 in the last fortnight. Under control ...

The campaign seems to have run out of steam. Today's Guardian had no election story on the front page, just a small piece about what might happen to culture and sports after the election. The main issue now seems to be the size of Blair's majority, with the Tories, supported by the Archbishop of York and Roy Hattersley, saying it would be undemocratic to have a massive majority.

Sun 3rd June4 new polls. ICM/News of the World poll in 139 marginals predicts a Labour majority of 197. There is much talk of tactical voting, and of the Queensland effect. I think the former is overrated. The latter may not be. Rallings and Thrasher predict 147 Lab majority.
Sat 2nd June13 new F&M cases.

There are reports that police are investigating allegations of the abuse of postal voting in Bradford, and a senior election official in N. Ireland has been suspended by the High Court.

24 new peers: [Lab] Dale Campbell-Savours, David Clark, Robin Corbett, Llin Golding, Bruce Grocott, Barry Jones, Sir John Morris, Peter Temple-Morris, Tom Pendry, Giles Radice, Jeff Rooker, Robert Sheldon. [Con] Peter Brooke, Sir Norman Fowler, Michael Heseltine, Tom King, John MacGregor. [LibDem] Ray Michie, Sir Paddy Ashdown, Ronnir Fern, Richard Livsey, Robert Maclennan. [UU] Ken Maginis, John Taylor.

Fri 1st JuneHealth forces its way back onto the agenda. GPs vote to consider resignation from the NHS. There are also reports that hospital consultants are re-considering their relationship with the NHS. This is the issue that I feel was the Tories' strongest suit. It remains to be seen whether they can still run with it. No one seems to be asking why the doctors were not in this position 4 years ago, and why they take this vote only after four years of New Labour. Blair is also under attack from educationalists

Fuel protests resume. Some reports of panic buying.

Thatcher et al warn of dangers of a Labour elected dictatorship.

MAFF only admits 1 case today - that's odd after yesterday's figure of 11. It is reported that MAFF knew of the BSE risks before it began its policy of burying carcasses. Apparently they count two animals as one if one is unweaned offspring; that seems very harsh on the farmer, for whom the baby represents future income. It is odd that the NFU accepts this.

Thur 31st MayTwo new polls: not much change, though MORI appears to have changed the basis of its calculations to cater for 'shy Tories'.

Tony Blair promises to crack down on thugs. But see 17th May.

Reports suggest the Settle outbreak of F&M is worse than MAFF are admitting. 11 cases today.

Wed 30th MayICM poll gives Labour 19% lead

Prodi follows Jospin and calls for more integration.

After its PEB promoting Blair as a leader, Labour further personalises the campaign with an anti-Hague poster. They have been quite successful in diverting attention from major issues. Clare Short read a bizarre statement in which she said she was proud of Tony Blair. Blair helps Microsoft launch its new XP product.

John Major criticises Labour for deceit and hypocrisy.

Tue 29th MayFrench PM speaks about EU, and envisages harmonised business taxes and a federation of nation states ("fédération d'Etats-nations") with a constitution, though not on the German pattern. Hague make clear that the decision to join the Euro is irreversibel, and expresses concern that a referendum would be rigged.

Labour accused of negative campaigning.

LibDems blame Tories for riots in Oldham.

Mon 28th MayRiots in Oldham, probably racially-based.

The Times reports that 40,000 ex-pats in Spain have registered for postal or proxy ballots.

Mo Mowlam criticises government policy on tuition fees. I'm surprised this hasn't become a bigger issue - the government's position is ludicrous. Indeed I think the whole student grant issue has been badly handled over many years. I really do not understand why a parent should have to pay £15,000 - 20,000 in order for the State to have another surgeon.

Sun 27th MayS. Times NOP poll gives labour 19% lead.

MAFF again blames farmers for F&M. They've clearly abandoned the rural vote! 6 new cases.

More fuel price increases predicted.

Sat 26th MayMAFF seems to acknowledge that there have been more cases of F&M than it had previously admitted. They say 7 today.
Fri 25th MayBlair tries to counter Tory policy on the EU by equating involvement in Europe with patriotism. Hague is equating the election with a referendum on the pound.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are reported as criticising negative campaigning. Interestingly, the media give yesterday's Tory election broadcast as an example. However, not only was the letter written before this was broadcast, but negativity is only one part of what they refer to. What they actually say is " ... Yet we all sense how tempting it can be, especially in an election season, for the short-term, the negative and the self-serving to dominate the political stage; for the political spotlight to focus less on what is in the long-term interests of us all, than on what can inflict the maximum short-term damage on political opponents." This is actually a much wider criticism of a weakness in modern politics. As far as negative campaigning is concerned, it seems to me (as a supporter of neither party) that Labour's broadcast on Wednesday was much more a case of negative campaigning than that of the Tories, who chose to draw attention to some unpleasant aspects of society.

Thur 24th MayI spent a large part of the day in London today. I mention this only because I thought it interesting that at no time did I see any evidence that there was an election in progress.
Wed 23rd MayICM poll gives Labour 13% lead.

In the wake of yesterday's amazing figure of only 4 F&M cases, it appears that MAFF is using the Data Protection Act to prevent information about individual farms from being released. The Telegraph reports that 17 cases have actually been confirmed in the Settle area, though it is unclear over what period. Only one of yesterday's cases reported by MAFF is in the North Yorkshire area. MAFF reports 8 today

Euro slumps. The Guardian has a report that Labour is pressing the French PM to tone down a forthcoming speech on european integration. Tories raise issue of EU tax harmonisation. EU commissioner enters campaign and responds that there will not be harmonisation.

Labour emphasises it will not be expanding the scope of VAT.

Postal workers go on strike.

The Times reports an enormous increase in postal vote registrations in some marginal seats.

Tue 22nd MayLabour accuses broadcasters of inciting election demonstrations, though they don't explain how broadcasters persuaded John Prescott to punch someone, or offer any evidence. The allegation is, of course, strongly denied by the broadcasters. There is a counter allegation that a senior labour aide unplugged an ITN camera to prevent coverage of an event. Apparently Blair's itinerary is only issued on an embargoed basis and some cameramen and journalists have even been given misleading information by officials so that they miss the event in question. This seems to be an amazingly crude attempt at news management. There are suggestions that Labour deliberately raised the issue to draw attention away from the National Insurance issue.

Labour tries to make headway with the Oliver Letwin issue, but fails to scotch the suggestion that National Insurance will go up.

There are reports of a massive outbreak of F&M in Yorkshire/Lancashire. The Bishop of Bradford argues that the election campaign is a distraction in dealing with the disease. Restrictions have been placed on approximately 1,000 farms. I await the MAFF figures with interest. Hmmmnn 4 cases. Bizarre. Conservatives are starting to raise the manipulation of the figures as an issue.

Mrs Thatcher makes a speech supporting Hague and the pound.

Mon 21st MayTories launch their business manifesto. Row develops over tax, Hague challenges Labour to say they will not increase National Insurance. Blair announces greater private sector invlovement in providing public services. This would seem to promise a great deal of confrontation with the unions in the next Parliament.

MAFF statistics no longer seem to be including cases in Wales - one confirmed case reported by BBC Wales was not on today's website. 4 cases (+1).

Sun 20th MayAnimal slaughter proceeds at a rate greater now than at any time, and reports of animal cruelty increase. Christopher Booker (S. Telegraph) complains about the issue being hushed up, but he should ask his own and other Editors why they are doing this. It is the Editorial strategies that determine whether, for example, the manipulation of statistics by MAFF is a real issue. I personally find it sad that Brian Bender and his officials should so willingly lend themselves to the cause of re-electing New Labour.

The Sunday Times reports that police threatened one of its reporters with arrest if he followed John Prescott.

NOP/Sunday Times poll gives Labour a lead of 19%. Labour releases a private poll suggesting a lead of 18%-22%.

Fri 18th MayTories focus on asylum. Blair confronted again on the NHS. One wonders why the Tories aren't focussing more on this issue. Perhaps that will come later.

It is reported that Greg Dyke has forbidden BBC reporters from approaching Keith Vaz.

Ludovic Kennedy quits Liberal Democrats.

Thur 17th MayLabour has a 26% lead in today's MORI poll. More plausibly, Gallup gives the lead as 16%

Source: ITN
Prescott thuggery Blair defends Prescott. One wonders where this leaves party policy on thugs and football hooligans.

Blair talks to more schoolchildren.

Wed 16th MayICM poll gives Labour 15% lead. Labour manifesto published. Blair publicly confronted by anguished partner of cancer patient on hospital visit. Prescott involved in punch-up (TV suggests he threw the first punch. Police arrest someone, but not Prescott). Straw jeered by police.

Unemployment figures down. Commentators are starting to compare Blair record with Major, somewhat unfavourably.

Tue 15th MayArguments continue over Tory plans for spending cuts after Oliver Letwin is said to have suggested that cuts would be greater than the manifesto figure.

Tiny increase in inflation; interest rates expected to be cut further.

LibDem manifesto is published.

Labour refuses to take part in a Newsnight discussion on the Sykes campaign for a referendum on membership of the EU.

So far it seems to me that the broadcasters have been fairly even-handed in their treatment of the campaign, although Channel 4 News tonight concluded in a slightly pro-Labour fashion, characterising Hague as having "admitted" that he was "now" the underdog, and Jeremy Paxman described the LibDem manifesto as "fantasy". Any party, even if unlikely to win a majority, deserves to have its manifesto explained impartially and professionally. In making a comparison between the parties on public spending as a % of GDP, Newsnight excluded the offical Tory figures and used the "Letwin" figures.

Mon 14th MayTories on the defensive over tax and spending.

Row as ex-conservative wins St Helen's nomination. The Labour hierarchy clearly hasn't learnt anything from the Alun Michael fiasco in Wales.

NFU leader blames eco-terrorism for F&M. 6 cases.

Sun 13th May

Three new polls give Labour a lead of around 19%

Discontent in the Labour Party: arguments over poor start to campaign, and a row in St Helens over Labour's selection process (no local candidates).

More doubts expressed over MAFFS statistics.

Sat 12th MayTax still seems to be the issue at the moment. Labour claims to have met its manifesto pledge on reducing waiting lists.
Fri 11th MayDiscussion of both parties tax and spending plans continue.

MAFF has admitted that around one third of F&M cases were wrongly diagnosed and that the vast majority of animals slaughtered on suspicion were not infected. 8 cases today.

Thur 10th MayMORI poll gives Labour a 24% lead. Kalends survey predicts 143 Labour majority.

Interest rate reduction

Conservatives launch manifesto and focus on tax cuts.

Wed 9th MayParliament winds down

Labour launches it new pledge card to not much excitement. Tories attack on the EU.

Warnings about bomb campaign; armed police in London.

Tue 8th MayElection called for 7th June. PM makes the announcement at a rather tacky event somewhat reminiscent of Neil Kinnock's ill-judged and premature victory rally.

NOP poll gives Labour 15% lead.

David Trimble says he will resign if the IRA doesn't hand in its arms.

2 cases F&M.

* Items for 2nd April to 7th May have been moved

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 12
© Richard Kimber