The Greek crisis is back, and this time it’s more serious than before

Amidst the hullabaloo of the general election campaign, one thing that has generally gone unnoticed in Britain’s political discourse is the worsening Greek situation. You now have European finance ministers openly talking about the possibility of a Greek default. What has changed is that there is now no goodwill and very little trust between Greece and the rest of the Eurozone. The rest of the Eurozone think that the Greeks are obfuscating and not providing the details needed. While the Syriza-led Greek government feel that the rest of the Eurozone is not providing them with the political cover they need to make a deal. They feel that the Eurozone’s insistence

The other kingmaker

Nigel Dodds, the Democratic Unionist Party leader at Westminster, is reflecting drolly on his party’s recent popularity: ‘I certainly think that the last year or two has been remarkable in the number of new friends we have encountered, people who are very keen to have a cup of tea or chat to you or whatever. I don’t put it all down to our natural charm.’ As pre-election talk of political pacts thickens — with both Conservatives and Labour angling for support — former House of Commons wallflowers have found their dance cards increasingly full. Which of the main parties might feel like a more natural ally? I ask. Dodds won’t

Feisty Cameron warns English voters of the ‘frightening prospect’ of the SNP propping up a Labour government

David Cameron has just delivered his feistiest performance of the election campaign yet. In a combative interview with Andrew Marr, the Tory leader repeatedly described the prospect of a Labour government propped up by the SNP as ‘frightening’, telling English voters that the SNP wouldn’t ‘care’ about them and their needs. He implicitly warned that SNP MPs supporting a Labour government would result in less money for English constituencies. He had been given this opening by Nicola Sturgeon, who in her interview had made clear how the SNP would use the fixed term parliament act to give them maximum influence on a Labour government. Her point was that the fixed term

The coming battle for legitimacy

Jonathan Freedland has written a compelling column on the challenge that Ed Miliband will face to establish his legitimacy if he becomes Prime Minister despite Labour not having won the most seats or votes. But I suspect that whoever becomes the government after May the 8th will have difficulty in persuading everyone that they have a right to govern. The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition could claim that 59 per cent of voters had backed its constituent parts. It also had a comfortable majority in the House of Commons with 364 out of 650 seats. Now, unless something dramatic happens, no governing combination is likely to have anything like that kind of

Campaign kick-off: 20 days to go

The third week of the election campaign looks set to end with a day of reflection. Last night’s opposition leaders’ debate provided plenty of things to ponder, not least how messy any post-election coalition negotiations will be. To help guide you through the melée of stories and spin, here is a summary of today’s main election stories. 1. Nicola + Ed According to the snap poll, Ed Miliband ‘won’ last night’s TV debate, followed closely by Nicola Sturgeon and then Nigel Farage. That says all you need to know about where the action was. As James Forsyth summarised last night, Miliband’s gamble paid off. For the most part, he came across as statesmanlike; he

Warning: you may be about to vote for more than one government

For the last five years, I’ve been trying to get people interested in the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. No, don’t sidle away. Honestly, this is The Spectator. Aren’t you meant to be into this sort of thing? It’s not as though we’re on a date, for God’s sake. It’s not like we’re in a restaurant and the starter has just come, and I’m droning on about the threshold for a vote of no confidence, and you’re draining your third huge glass of red and thinking, ‘This guy looked waaaay more fun on Tinder. Next time I go to the loo I’m climbing out the window.’ That’s not how it is.

Nick Clegg sets out red lines for coalition negotiations with Labour and the Tories

Nick Clegg produced Lib Dem red lines for any coalition with either Labour or the Tories in an interview with Evan Davis this evening. Clegg said that he wouldn’t go into Coalition with the Tories if they insisted on making £12 billion of cuts to welfare in the next two years. But he said that he also couldn’t recommend going into coalition with Labour until they were clearer about how they planned to deal with the deficit, making clear that what Labour said today was not sufficient. As Fraser says, this was an assured performance from Clegg who offered a robust defence of the government’s record. The Liberal Democrats would

Watch: Green Party releases quirky PPB with spoof boy band ‘Coalition’

The party political broadcasts of this campaign have been pretty dull. Until the Green Party released its video entitled ‘Change The Tune’ this afternoon, that is. The Greens suggest that David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage are all so similar they might as well be in the same boyband. Cue some truly terrible lookalikes in the band ‘Coalition’ singing about ‘a party political harmony’, ‘austerity, oh austerity’ and ‘joining the one true coalition’. You can watch the PPB — which has surprisingly high production values for a small party — above, or download the song (for free) from Bandcamp. At first, the video seems completely baffling: why on earth would a political

Why all this talk of a hung parliament could be a self-fulfilling prophecy

In a close campaign, you would normally expect the smaller parties to get squeezed as voters decided that is really a choice between Labour and the Tories. But this time, thing might be different. Why, because the general expectation is that there will be another hung parliament and the coverage of the campaign is being reflected through that prism. This emphasis on the likelihood of a hung parliament could change how people actually vote. As I write in the current issue of the magazine, the British Election Study shows that among voters who expect another hung parliament support for both Labour and the Tories is radically lower with the minor

The election result that everyone expects – and no one wants

To form a coalition, David Cameron had to give up the Prime Ministerial prerogative to determine when the election was called. But it is hard to imagine that, given the choice, he would have gone to the Palace any earlier than Monday. The Tories have merely drawn level with Labour in recent weeks and there hasn’t been a poll yet which points to him winning a majority. This will be the most polled campaign in British history. On the day it started, depending on your choice of pollster, the Tories were four points ahead of Labour, four points behind or dead level. But one clear theme is emerging from this

Podcast: Cameron’s second coalition dream and the problems of the sharing economy

David Cameron is secretly planning for a second coalition, according to the new Spectator. In this week’s View from 22 podcast, James Forsyth and Miranda Green discuss the possibility of another Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition after the general election. Would it be more difficult than it was five years ago to strike a deal? Will the Conservative party back Cameron if he falls short of a majority and decides against a minority government? And why is 30 MPs the magic number for the Liberal Democrats to enter into another coalition? Fraser Nelson and Alex Massie discuss our interview with Alex Salmond and his plans to hold Ed Miliband’s feet to the fire. Instead of doing a coalition deal with Labour,

Fraser Nelson

Alex Salmond sets out his terms for Ed Miliband

‘Would you like a glass of pink champagne?’ asks Alex Salmond at 3.30 p.m., sounding very much like a man settling down for the afternoon. It’s Monday and Scotland’s former first minister has cause to celebrate. He spent the previous day musing on television about the price he’d demand for the SNP supporting Ed Miliband in the Commons, and his thoughts dominate the front pages. There’s plenty of outrage at the idea of the SNP toying with England, and outrage is just what he wanted. So champagne it is. He has found himself an unlikely star of the Tory election campaign; the party this week released a cartoon showing him

James Forsyth

He’ll never admit it, but David Cameron is already plotting another deal with Nick Clegg

David Cameron is honest to a fault — or so he told us this week. While cooking lunch in the kitchen of his Oxfordshire home, he was asked, in terms, whether this is the last election he’ll fight as party leader. Yes, he said, it was. He was then kind enough to name three potential successors. And when shortly afterwards broadcast journalists grew greatly excited by this, he said he had done nothing more than give a ‘very straight answer to a very straight question’. But there is another question to which he will not give a straight answer: is he preparing for another coalition? The Prime Minister knows the

Channel 4’s The Coalition reviewed: heroically free of cynicism

In a late schedule change, Channel 4’s Coalition was shifted from Thursday to Saturday to make room for Jeremy Paxman interviewing the party leaders. With most dramas, that would mean I’d have to issue the sternest of spoiler alerts for anybody reading before the programme goes out. In this case, though, you know the story already — because Coalition was a dramatisation of what happened in Westminster in the days after the last general election. Fortunately, one of the programme’s many qualities was its Day of the Jackal ability to keep us gripped even though we were always aware of the outcome — largely by reminding us that the characters

Vince Cable’s attack on Tim Farron is a sign of the Lib Dem bloodshed to come

Another day, another senior Liberal Democrat takes a pop at Tim Farron. After Farron publicly marked the party’s leadership ‘two out of ten’ for its handling of the coalition, the knives have been out for him. Vince Cable is the latest senior figure to attack the former party president. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, the Business Secretary said this remark by Farron ‘wasn’t at all helpful’: ‘I mean, he’s a very good campaigning MP, but he’s never been in government and has never had to make difficult decisions and I think his credibility isn’t great. You know, he’s an entertaining speaker and has a bit of a fanclub. But I suspect he would not be

The Boris approach

It is sometimes easy to forget that Boris is more than just a personality, that he has policy views too. In interviews with The Mail and The Times this morning, Boris sets out his own philosophy. It is, as you would expect from someone who voted for Ken Clarke in the 2001 leadership contest, a broadly one nation platform. Johnson argues that the Tories should not ‘simply shrug their shoulders’ about inequality and backs Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to extend the right to buy to housing association properties. He also talks about immigration far more positively than Cameron does, saying that ‘Politicians need to point out that immigration is a


Are the Tories already planning how to push through their next coalition?

Are CCHQ already planning how to push through their next coalition? Mr S only asks as word reaches Steerpike that Conservative backbenchers have been urged to return to London immediately after the General Election in the potential event of a snap vote. The pressure is on for any future coalition to be put to the parliamentary party after this failed to happen in 2010. ‘There is a lot of soreness about how the party was bounced last time around into accepting the last deal, and we shall not be bounced this time around,’ a 1922 Committee source recently told the BBC. An email from the Government Chief Whip which suggests plans are afoot has been passed to Mr S: ‘Please

A typical coalition Budget – designed to put the Tories back in power

George Osborne usually tells his aides to prepare for each Budget as if it were his last. This time round, the Chancellor and those around him needed no reminding of what is at stake. They knew that this statement had to boost the Tory election campaign and define the choice facing voters in May, otherwise it really will be the last Budget he gives. As one Tory MP put it, ‘The Budget’s got to deliver some political momentum or we’re done for.’ Osborne has long been aware of the importance of this Budget for his career. If David Cameron returns to No. 10 after the election, Osborne will take the

A typical coalition Budget – designed to put the Tories back in power | 18 March 2015

Here is a preview of James Forsyth’s political column from this week’s Spectator, out tomorrow George Osborne usually tells his aides to prepare for each Budget as if it were his last. This time round, the Chancellor and those around him needed no reminding of what is at stake. They knew that this statement had to boost the Tory election campaign and define the choice facing voters in May, otherwise it really will be the last Budget he gives. As one Tory MP put it, ‘The Budget’s got to deliver some political momentum or we’re done for.’ Osborne has long been aware of the importance of this Budget for his

Mark Gatiss: I based Sherlock’s Mycroft on Peter Mandelson

In the BBC’s Sherlock, Mark Gatiss plays Sherlock Holmes’s sly older brother Mycroft. Now the actor has revealed in an interview with the Radio Times that the person who inspired his performance is none other than Peter Mandelson. ‘I based Mycroft on Peter Mandelson. It was explicit even before I was going to play him. Steven Moffat and I talked about how Mandelsonian Mycroft was… Conan Doyle says Mycroft is the British government. He’s the power behind the throne. Both Mandelson and Mycroft are the sort of people who, I think, would sit out a world war. [They would think] there’s a longer game to be played.’ Happily, this meant Gatiss didn’t need to stretch himself too