Opinion polls are sharply divided in the coming U.K. general elections, expected to be called by Prime Minister Tony Blair for early May. According to the YouGov poll, published in The Daily Telegraph, the Conservatives are polling almost even with Labour. But The Independent comes in with bad news: a 12-point Labour lead. Polls show that voters expect Labour would raise taxes and Conservatives would cut spending. Conservative Party leader Michael Howard has tried to assure voters that essential public spending will not be cut. When deputy party chairman Howard Flight suggested otherwise, the party leader not only sacked him but barred him from standing for Parliament on the Tory ticket.
But the most interesting thing to emerge from the Tory campaign is what Guardian columnist Nick Clegg labels a "savagely populist" approach to electoral politics. Under Howard, the Tories have promised to cut taxes, crack down on immigration and asylum, toughen up laws on crime, and restrict abortion.
An abortion in can be procured in the U.K. into the 24th week of a pregnancy. Howard has promised to cut that number back to 20, which has won the praise of both Anglican and Catholic leaders in the country. The reaction to this proposal has put Tony Blair on the defensive. In a now infamous speech in South London, Blair said that he did not want to see Britain adopt "an American style of politics, with us all going out there beating our chest about our faith."