Election 2015: 'A carnival of nonsense and futility'

None of the parties have got to grips with the key issues that voters need to hear, reports Emily Hohler.

The battle for election victory has "morphed into a fight to define the consequences of defeat", says Rachel Sylvester in The Times. The polls indicate a slim majority for the Conservatives, and all sides are now preparing for a hung parliament, with the two main parties bickering over what will "constitute the legitimate' government".

There are reports that if the Tories win the most votes and the most seats, the prime minister, David Cameron, intends to "sit tight" in No. 10. The Tories insist he is legitimately entitled to do so until the State Opening of Parliament the Queen's Speech on 27 May, and it would force Labour's Ed Miliband into striking an unpopular deal with the Scottish National Party (SNP).

But if there is an anti-Tory majority in the House of Commons (the Tories will need the support of every surviving Lib Dem to secure a "razor-thin" overall majority, according to YouGov), Cameron will struggle to get his legislative programme through.

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This is the point at which Miliband could become the "loser who wins" as long as SNP MPs join Labour to defeat it. The Cabinet Manual makes it "absolutely clear" that legitimacy is based on the "ability to get votes through the House of Commons, not on winning the largest number of seats".

The reason a hung parliament is now certain is that both main parties have been "bombarding" us with an incoherent mix of offers that obscure the fiscal "gulf" between them, creating confusion, stress and perplexity, says Ed Conway in The Times. If we get another coalition, as seems likely, disregard claims that Britain's voters "actively chose not to give any single party a majority. Had the parties campaigned more honestly and more straightforwardly the result could have been quite different."

This campaign has been a "carnival of nonsense and futility", says Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times. At best, the budgets, manifestos, "unforced errors", and televised debates have "washed over the public". At worst, this campaign has "embarrassed" Britain with its "studious avoidance" of key issues, such as fiscal reality.

But politicians are not the only ones at fault. Voters say they want honesty. But if Cameron confessed he would cut middle-class welfare, "he would not be thanked for his candour". Were Miliband to spell out which taxes would rise, "he would be done for".

As for the media pressing Miliband on his relationship with his brother and asking Cameron if he could survive on a zero-hours contract it was "emotive and priggish", aiming to provoke gaffes, not solicit insight. The closing image of this campaign is a "giant stone monolith engraved with Labour's priorities". Miliband's Edstone is "not serious. But then neither was this campaign."

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.