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Cameron says he’s to give up after 5 years, and Miliband more than holds his own in TV debate

Who sits here and in which House? - the race gets underway.

Who sits here and in which House? – the race gets underway.

Election campaign gets under way with first debate and first launch, but polls say it’s to close to call.

Prize for being first off the mark to launch their general election campaign was Plaid Cymru. The pitch will be “elect the largest ever group of Plaid MPs would put Wales in the strongest position possible as polls point to a hung parliament.” The launch was at Ffos Las Racecourse. Hoping the voters will take a punt on them.

The launch follows Plaid Cymru’s worry that all the attention and resources could be diverted to Scotland in the event of SNP gains at the general election. The party’s campaign coordinator Lord Wigley said a “potentially powerful SNP” was already “calling the shots and framing the agenda” for after the poll. He went on to say that a “strong group of Plaid MPs” would be needed to put Wales on an equal footing with Scotland. But in his party conference he was talking of Plaid Cymru winning six seats, hardly a base for calling the shots.

Ukip held a meeting in Porthmadog which was an English only affair. See http://welshpolitics.co.uk/2015/03/ukip-and-the-welsh-language/

Bye bye to the Palace of Westminster and bye , bye to the Bay likely for one AM

Some good news for Andrew RT Davies Conservative leader in the Assembly. He is likely to rid himself of a constant irritant in the form of Antoinette Sandbach. For she has been selected as the party’s Westminster candidate in the safe seat of Eddisbury, where the Tory majority was more than 13,000 in 2010. If elected she intends to stand down from the assembly if elected. Llandudno councillor Janet Haworth would take the north Wales regional seat in Cardiff Bay for the Conservatives without the need for a by-election.Two other AMs trying to escape the clutches of the Conservative group in the Bay are  Byron Davies and Mark Isherwood have already been selected as Westminster candidates to fight Gower and Delyn respectively.

The Welsh Political Archive in the National Library at Aberystwyth  will have a busy few weeks they’ll be receiving boxes and boxes of material from Welsh MPs that are retiring.  After 24 years and cabinet posts under Blair and Brown Peter Hain will have more than a few boxes. Another ex cabinet member  with plenty of paper work I’m sure is Paul Murphy.  He  entered parliament in 1987 and served as Welsh and Northern Ireland Secretary. Another long server was Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd the Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP and barrister. He’s highly thought of for his work on criminal justice issues; his work on stalking paved the way for a new law so those future law students in Aber will have plenty of material to trawl through if he passes his papers to the Library. Also leaving is Tory Jonathan Evans, a minister in John Major’s government but not favoured by Cameron. Others leaving voluntarily are Sian James, Martin Caton, Dai Havard and Hywel Francis. Who will join them from the rest of the 40 will be up to the voters.  Of course there’s always speculation that some of the retiree’s will remain in the Palace of Westminster wearing ermine. How does the Lords Llwyd, Hain, and Murphy sound. And what odds that a newly enobled Hain would be in a Miliband Cabinet as Leader of the Lords? Any bets?

No head to head but David Cameron and Ed Miliband appeared together in the same tv studio’s for the first of the ‘election’ debate programmes. They were put on the spot over immigration, the EU and spending plans. The winner?  Well would you be surprised to know that both parties claimed afterwards that their man did best. It was always thus. But an early ICM opinion poll for the Guardian suggested Mr Cameron narrowly.  But apparently those that mattered, the ‘undecided” put Miliband ahead. The programme – Cameron and Miliband Live: The Battle for Number 10 – was the first of a series. On 2 April the seven party leaders will be on ITV then on 16 April there will be a debate between five opposition party leaders on the BBC, moderated by David Dimbleby with a final BBC Question Time programme on the 30 April with David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, again presented by David Dimbleby.

With the Assembly closing for a fortnight for the Easter holidays the Almanac is also going into holiday mode.

Polls still point to a hung parliament

This week sees Labour ahead by 1 percentage point reversing last week when the Conservatives were ahead by 1 in the poll of polls. This makes Labour 17 short. The minor parties still have hopes of being king makers.

Thursday

YouGov/Sun Con 36%  Lab 34% LibDem 7% UKIP 13%  Green 5%

Panelbase Con 34%  Lab 34% LibDem 5% UKIP 15%  Green 6%

Wednesday

Survation/Mirror Con 32%  Lab 33% LibDem 8% UKIP 18%  Green 4%

Tuesday

ComRes/Mail Con 35% Lab 35% LibDem 8% UKIP 10% Green 7%

YouGov/Sun Con 35%  Lab 35% LibDem 8% UKIP 12%  Green 6%

TNS Con 33%  Lab 32% LibDem 7% UKIP 17%  Green 4% Other 7%

Monday

Populus         Con 31% Lab 33% LibDem 9% UKIP 16% Green 5%

Ashcroft         Con 33% Lab 33% LibDem 8% UKIP 12% Green 5%

Sunday

Survation/Mail Con 30% Lab 34% LibDem 10% UKIP 17%  Green 4%

Opinium/Observer Con 36% Lab 33% LibDem 7% UKIP 14% Green 6% )

YouGov/Sunday Times         Con 33% Lab 35% LibDem 8% UKIP 14% Green 5%

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