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ConHome's graphic for the night (see comment at 1.25am):

MilibandThumped
11pm Election night blog

5pm Mark Field MP on Comment: The battle to restore trust and credibility in the Middle East

4pm International: Will Harper (a) use his majority to govern as a Conservative or (b) seek to dominate the centre ground given the Liberals' collapse?

2.30pm WATCH: Should interest rates rise?  Allister Heath and Alpesh Patel debate the issues.

1pm ToryDiary: Twitter killed live blogging

Noon Martin Parsons on Comment: Post bin Laden – Which way will Pakistan slide in the fight against Islamist terrorism?

10am Matthew Elliott on Comment: Make sure you vote NO today

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 05.07.59

As CCHQ releases final campaign poster (see above), three ToryDiaries:

Local Government: Ten reasons to vote Conservative in the council elections today

Dominic Raab on Comment: It's time to get tough with Bob Crow and the RMT

WATCH: Hague warning on Al Qaeda threat 

It's decision day for Westminster's voting system.  And the final polls show an emphatic lead for the No campaign

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 05.15.12 "The century-long dream of electoral reform in Britain looks likely to be dashed for more than a generation, with a Guardian/ICM poll predicting that voters will back keeping first past the post by a crushing majority.  The survey, before the referendum on whether to introduce the alternative vote (AV) for elections to the Commons, predicts a 68% no vote with just 32% for yes. The hopes of yes campaigners that there was going to be a late tightening of the polls have been dashed." – The Guardian

"Last-minute polls pointed to a substantial win for the No to AV campaign, with a Guardian/ICM survey giving it a 36-point lead and YouGov in The Sun suggesting a 20-point margin.  Whichever way Britain votes in its first referendum for 36 years — and only the second ever — the mud-slinging and bad blood of the campaign have consequences for the future of the coalition. The deep resentment felt by Liberal Democrats at the conduct of the No camp is likely to linger long after the polls close this evening." – The Times (£) 

Cameron fires a final campaign shot…

"First-Past-the-Post is a relatively cheap, simple and decisive voting system which means you can kick out governments when they’ve run out of steam. That’s why it’s used by half the planet.  AV on the other hand is so confusing, unfair and obscure that it is only used by Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.  Those are the arguments – and that’s why I passionately believe AV is wrong for Britain. I know others disagree. But this referendum is not a coalition-breaker." – David Cameron, Daily Mail 

…As Clegg campaigns in the country…

"On the campaign trail yesterday Mr Clegg said: “Clearly this is a tough time to fight a local election when you’re in government, having to take difficult decisions.”  And he admitted “the temperature is rising” within the coalition over the referendum row.  He added: “Feelings are rising high as you would expect at this stage of a ­referendum campaign but at the end of the day it isn’t about what politicians think or feel or even say to each other, it’s about what people want.” – Daily Express 

…While Conservatives claim that Huhne's plotting against him at Westminster…

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 05.15.46 "Tories last night accused Chris Huhne of plotting for the Lib Dem leadership as his party faces wipe-out at the polls today.  The Energy Secretary came under renewed attack for his AV Cabinet rant at David Cameron and George Osborne.  Furious Tories said it was a blatant attempt to curry favour with party activists in a bid to replace leader Nick Clegg…A Tory minister said: "There's no doubt Clegg's under a lot of pressure and Huhne is positioning himself." – The Sun

"Norman Lamb, North Norfolk MP, said a lower than 50pc turnout would not damage the credibility of the vote on how we elect our MPs in future. “Obviously, the higher the turnout, the greater the legitimacy, but in a democracy you have to live with the results based on who turns out to vote,” he said…Mr Lamb, added that it was “inevitable” that “strains” develop during election campaigns.  “We have to be mature enough to have a debate on an important issue and we have to be able to have a robust debate." – Norfolk Eastern Daily Press

Huhne and a cynical plot to oust Clegg – Iain Martin, Daily Mail 

…And the post-mortems into the shortcomings of the Yes campaign, and Clegg's part in it, start early

"A pre-mortem is already starting at Westminster over the reasons the Yes campaign looks likely to be routed in today's referendum on the alternative vote, with Nick Clegg accepting that voters made anxious by the squeeze on living standards found it difficult to understand why politicians were scrapping over an esoteric issue of voting reform.  The Liberal Democrat leader will face criticism for staging the referendum at the point at which the party was always likely to plunge to maximum unpopularity, and for alienating many progressives by hailing the tight ideological fit between liberalism and Tory modernisers." – The Guardian

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 05.16.18 The right-of-centre press lines up unanimously for first-past-the-post:

Commentators' views:

  • Get out and vote 'No' today or we'll have squabbling, indecisive coalitions for all eternity – Max Hastings, Daily Mail
  • We voters have changed. Now the system should – David Aaronovitch, The Times (£)
  • AV would stop us giving politicians a good kicking – Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph
  • This referendum is a much bigger moment than it seems – Steve Richards, The Independent

Yesterday's ConservativeHome AV referendum coverage:

Miliband puts Labour on election footing…

Screen shot 2011-05-05 at 08.05.23 "Miliband has put his team on election footing. At the most recent campaign meeting Andy Burnham, Labour's election planner, observed that the odds of this government not lasting until the next election had shortened in the last week. Burnham asked the party's general secretary Ray Collins to look at whether Labour could fight an election in the coming year. Collins has set up contingency plans for just such a poll." – The Guardian 

…But it faces defeat in Scotland

"Although Labour is confident of major gains in English and Welsh council elections on Thursday, the party is expected to fall humiliatingly short in its traditional Scottish heartland.  Before the election campaign began, Labour had comfortable ten-point leads over the SNP in most opinion polls.  The last poll before the election this week put the SNP on 45 per cent in constituency elections and 38 per cent on the regional “top up” list. Labour was on 27 and 25 per cent." – Daily Telegraph

"If, just after lunchtime tomorrow, when most of the results will be in, the SNP again emerges, as expected, as the largest party in devolved Scotland and is re-elected, a political sea-change will have occurred — the Nationalists will be able to claim to have replaced Labour as the natural party of government in Scotland.  That will be a momentous change that brings in its wake other questions about the future of the Union and, indeed, the future of Scottish Labour." – Angus Macleod, The Times (£)

Local elections: when the results begin, beware of spin

"The Liberal Democrats are bracing themselves for the loss of up to 600 seats in Thursday's local elections in England, prompting fears that their activist base across the country could be devastated.  The elections for 9,000 seats in 279 English authorities are being seen as the first electoral verdict on the coalition's spending cuts, with Labour expecting major gains and senior Lib Dems admitting they face punishment in some areas for the role they have played in the coalition." – The Guardian

"David Cameron, too, faces the loss of hundreds of town hall seats but will be cautiously optimistic about the referendum result after the final opinion polls put the No lobby well ahead….Ed Miliband, who has already cast a postal ballot in his Doncaster North constituency (Yes to AV), will hold meetings with his advisers in his Commons office. He is hopeful of gaining 600 council seats in his first electoral test but experts say Labour should gain 1,000 to show it is making progress." – The Independent

Cameron threatens to recognise Palestine state unless Israel opens peace talks

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"Britain is prepared to formally recognise a Palestinian state unless Israel opens peace talks with the Palestinians.  David Cameron last night warned Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu that the UK is prepared to recognise an independent Palestine at a United Nations meeting in September.  British diplomats described the threat as one of Britain’s few ‘levers’ to press Israel to join talks with Palestinian officials." – Daily Mail

Hague: Arab Spring aspirations will sweep the world – The Times (£)

Yesterday on ToryDiary: William Hague argues for "broad and deep economic integration" between the Middle East and the EU

Cameron accused of U-turn over military covenantDaily Mail 

Huhne claims effect of North Sea tax will be "marginal"

"Both Mr Huhne and Justine Greening, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, argued to fellow MPs that the impact on the industry would be "marginal" given today's current high oil prices averaging well over $100 per barrel this year.  Oil and gas bosses have been complaining that the tax increase from 50pc to 62pc on most fields will mean fields have to shut sooner and new projects will become unattractive." – Daily Telegraph

…"It is now clear that George Osborne’s biggest error in his Budget was his savage raid on North Sea oil and gas firms. The additional tax on the sector was hiked from 20 to 32 per cent. Some fields, which pay petroleum revenue tax as well as corporation tax, face a marginal tax rate of 81 per cent. Unsurprisingly, several important firms are reconsidering whether it is worth the hassle developing new fields, while others may even quit the UK entirely, cutting jobs and reducing GDP growth." – Allister Heath, City A.M

Want cheap energy? We can be sure of shale – Matt Ridley, The Times (£)

Boris blasts Cameron as "lily-livered" on unions

JOHNSON BORIS "Angry Boris Johnson last night branded David Cameron "lily-livered" for not condemning plans for a Tube strike.  The London Mayor demanded the PM take the lead to prevent six days of industrial action that will cause travel chaos for millions.  He said last night: "We need to see more action – the Government is being lily-livered on this.  "I don't think it's right a small minority of members of the workforce should be able to hold a great city to ransom." – The Sun 

Maude's plan on staff mutuals found lackingFinancial Times (£)

Conservative Ministers battle over public service reform

"All revolutions need a leader: so those who complain that this one has stalled must look to Mr Cameron to bear responsibility. Some say it is because he is distracted by bigger issues, principally Libya and Pakistan. Or it may be that he sees a bigger picture, one that tells him even this most radical of administrations can be too radical, and needs to trim its sails to deal with the prevailing weather. But a worrying divide is opening among senior Conservatives, between those who want to be radical at all costs and those who want to win at all costs. We won’t notice tomorrow, but the one who appears to be winning as a result is Nick Clegg." – Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph

Deficit targets will be missed, Osborne toldThe Guardian

Other Coalition and Political news and comment in brief

  • Obama says no to bin Laden corpse photos – The Times (£)
  • Nadine Dorries wins vote on bill to teach girls to say no to sex  – Daily Mail
  • Terrorist attack highly likely, warns Met chief – Daily Telegraph
  • Report warns of US-style "degree mills" – The Independent
  • At last, a memorial for bomber heroes – Daily Express
  • Who is David Cameron? – Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
  • Will Chris Patten be able to rescue the BBC? – Harry Phibbs, Daily Mail
  • We will no longer buy Pakistan’s victim complex – Camilla Cavendish, The Times (£)
  • Sweat and tears made Winston Churchill's name – Nicholas Soames MP, Daily Telegraph
  • Water cannon for Queen's Irish trip – Press Association

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97 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 5th May 2011

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