The Final Push for Votes

By Rowan Williams
  • Politicians enter final day of campaigning;
  • Germanwings crash pilot had ‘practised’ rapid descent;
  • Hong Kong kidnappers arrested


Britain’s political parties are undertaking their final day of campaigning before the UK general election on Thursday. The Prime Minister has appealed to voters to allow his party to ‘finish the job’ of improving the economy; Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband, meanwhile, has warned that a Conservative government would be bad for ‘working families’. Speculation over potential coalition government deals has increased, as current polls continue to predict that no party will hold an absolute majority. Latest polls have shown both Labour and the Conservatives to each hold 33 percent of the vote. However, from the Prime Minister’s pledge to pass a law protecting against tax rises, to Ed Miliband’s literal carving of his party’s pledges into stone, the general election campaign has shown politicians as eager to win the trust of an electorate that observers say has lost faith in the Westminster system.

The co-pilot of a Germanwings flight which crashed in the Alps may have practised making a rapid descent on an earlier flight ahead of his deliberate crashing of an Airbus 320 on 24 March. All 150 people on board the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf were killed. Germany’s Bild newspaper has reported from French crash investigators that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had tried a controlled, minute-long descent in an aircraft earlier that day. The paper reports that there had been no aeronautical reason for Lubitz’s earlier descent, which was carried out on the same plane’s earlier flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona. Lubitz is understood to have suffered from depression, while German investigators revealed last month that Lubitz had rehearsed suicide and researched the security of cockpit doors. An interim report from French crash investigators is expected to be released later on Wednesday.

All six people allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a Hong Kong woman have been arrested by Chinese police after a massive manhunt. One man was arrested on Monday while trying to leave Hong Kong, while the remaining five were arrested in Guangdong province on Tuesday. The man arrested on Monday has already appeared in court, but has not yet entered a plea. The gang had kidnapped the granddaughter of the owner of clothing chain Bossini, and fled after their ransom demands of £2.3 million were met. While a series of high-profile kidnappings rocked Hong Kong in the 1990s, crime has fallen in the city in recent years.

The Papers

Political campaigning on the last day before Britain’s general election makes the headlines on the majority of front pages today. The Financial Times leads with news that party leaders are scrambling to “line up durable coalition deals” as polls continue to suggest a hung parliament will be likely. The Conservative Party is weighing up talks with the Lib Dems, while Labour “might seek multiparty links”, the paper writes. The Independent’s angle focuses on a potential “legitimacy crisis” in a hung parliament, with research by the paper showing 70 percent of voters think the Scottish National Party (SNP) “should not be allowed to veto English laws”. The Daily Telegraph warns of a “Nightmare on Downing Street”, reporting that SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon has ‘boasted’ of talks to make Labour’s Ed Miliband Prime Minister. Former Prime Minister John Major has urged voters to vote against a potential Labour-SNP coalition, the paper reports. The Guardian features a report revealing a “hitlist of welfare cuts” facing the next Chancellor. Civil servants have drawn up a list of cuts over warnings that the next government will struggle to keep welfare spending below £120 billion a year. The Times leads with a claim from the Prime Minister that Ed Miliband is “trying to con his way into No 10”, after Miliband reportedly acknowledged for the first time that “he won’t win a majority”.

British Media on China

On the anti-corruption drive in Shanghai: both the BBC and Financial Times covered news that Shanghai officials’ families would be banned from running private businesses. The Financial Times is quite sceptical of the new regulations, writing that they “are the strictest so far in China but do not appear to address some common abuses of power”. The BBC’s China blog post uses the ruling to explore “The trouble with China’s anti-corruption campaign”. The piece observes that “the tougher the rhetoric grows the wider the ridicule becomes”. The piece’s writer, John Sudworth, asserts that corruption “is the system” in China due to China’s lack of free press, political opposition or independent judiciary.

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