Jonathan Bartley's blog

Why I raised the issue of inclusion with David Cameron today

This morning, my son Samuel had an appointment at the Evelina children’s hospital.

Great ignored? Tories are only major party failing to make manifesto reference to asylum

A quick analysis of the various positions of the parties contained in their manifestos on asylum finds Labour making a very bland reference and the Conservatives making no reference at all (the 'Great Ignored'?). This is despite the Tory manifesto running to over 100 pages. The other parties do better with the exception of Plaid, who also make no mention, and UKIP whose policy is based largely on detention. The Lib Dems promise to let asylum seekers work and end the detention of children, and the Greens promise to end destitution - all policies strongly supported by the churches.

The double standards of the Tory attack on a hung parliament

I was on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine programme at lunchtime discussing the merits of a hung parliament and coalition government with Tory Nick Wood.

Putting aside the specific economic and political arguments for and against, the following points struck me about the Tory assault on the idea of a hung parliament today. They are sending out hugely mixed signals, and also displaying double standards:

Breaking: Church follows own guidance on BNP and election hustings

The BBC is not doing well on its reporting of religion this election. Firstly it wrote a highly speculative article about the role of religion in influencing the election - completely ignoring the substantial evidence on the subject.

Now it is reporting the 'news': 'BNP banned from Lichfield Diocese church hustings'.

The BBC headline is misleading for two reasons. As the BBC article itself makes it clear, the diocese has not in fact "banned" the BNP. Rather the diocese has just issued 'guidance' to its churches. It is up to individual churches to decide whether to act on the guidance.

Secondly, the headline should really be 'Diocese follows Church of England guidance'. The C of E issued this guidance through the Archbishops’ Council Mission and Public Affairs Division on 1st February. This advised churches not to invite extremist candidates to their hustings.

Gavin Drake, the diocesan communications officer quoted in the article, doesn't seem to have realised this, or, if he has, told this to the BBC. That or the message just didn't get through to the Beeb.

Anyway, this is neither a 'ban'. Nor is it news.

Making sense of the disparity in the polls 2

More discussion this morning from commentators trying to make sense of the ongoing disparity of poll results in today’s Sunday Papers:

BPIX (Mail on Sunday) Con: 34, Lab 26, LD 30, Other 10

YouGov (Sunday Times) Con: 35, Lab 27, LD 28, Other 10

ICM (Sun Tel) Con: 35, Lab 26, LD 31, Other 8

OnePoll (People) Con: 32, Lab 23, LD 32, Other 13

IPSOS MORI (News of the World) Con 36, Lab 30, LD 23, Other 11

ComRes (Indy on Sunday and Mirror) Con: 34, Lab 28, LD 29, Other 9

To add to the complexity, YouGov polling in the Lab-Con marginals shows the Tories slipping to 34%. Labour is on 35% and the Lib Dems have jumped to 26%. This still represents a pro-Conservative swing, because of the drop in Labour support, but of only 4%, in line with the overall national swing. It would give the Tories 57 of these seats, not enough for a majority.

On the eve of the election campaign (before the first TV debate and the Lib Dem surge) I suggested that this election would see quite an ongoing disparity in the polls caused by:

- The Lib Dems doing much better as a result of the TV debates

- The ongoing difficulties that pollsters have in dealing with Lib Dems

- Misc. local factors that the polls wouldn’t pick up

- Large number of retiring MPs

- Reaction in some constituencies to certain MPs over expenses

- Large numbers of ‘other’ candidates standing

...all of which are very hard to take account of using the usual polling methods.

In the broader picture what now seems to be evident from the polls:

1. The Tory vote share pretty consistent around 33-34%

2. Lib Dems and Labour jostling for position around the 26-32% range, with Lib Dems apparently edging Labour into third

3. The “Other” vote finally being squeezed as the Lib Dems pick up on the ‘anti-politics’ sentiment. Whereas ‘others’ were around 12-14% ten days ago, they are now hovering around the 9-11% mark.

Markets should relax over hung parliament says Economist Intelligence Unit

Markets should take the prospect of a hung parliament in their stride, Charles Jenkins and Neil Prothero from the Economist Intelligence Unit have said.

Christians not celebrating St George, 'ungrateful' and 'breeding cynicism' says Archbishop of York

The Archbishop of York has criticised Christians as lacking gratitude and 'breeding cynicism', if they don't celebrate St George's Day,

What does St George have to say today?

My colleague Simon Barrow has done a great job revising our 2007 paper on rebranding St George which you can read here.

Party leaders say people want to see Catholic church "confess" and "repent" for "sin"

It will be interesting to see how the Catholic church responds to last night’s television debate between the leaders of the three biggest parties in the UK.

Westminster Declaration gets support from far right party

Fourteen members of the right-wing United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) have signed a declaration produced by conservative church leaders in the UK for the general election.