Election 2015: First TV ‘fight’ suggests the big squeeze is on

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The 2015 General Election campaign doesn’t quite kick off until Parliament dissolves on Monday, but the starting gun was fired ahead of time courtesy of the televised leaders’ interviews with David Cameron and Ed Miliband, conducted by Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley.

There’s no doubt that last night’s Paxman grillings/town hall softballs will have hammered home in voters’ minds that the choice at the General Election will be between two Prime Ministers-in-waiting, which isn’t great news for the smaller parties.

While it is true that next week’s seven-way debate, featuring Cameron, Miliband, Liberal Democrats top dog Nick Clegg, Ukip supremo Nigel Farage, SNP chief Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru head Leanne Wood and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, will redress the balance somewhat, the rest of the campaign schedule looks bleak.

Miliband has taken a risk in agreeing to go toe-to-toe with the four other party leaders not currently in government in the five-way challengers’ debate, which takes place on April 16th.

However, while Farage, Sturgeon and Bennett will feel confident of landing blows on ‘Red Ed’ during the BBC broadcast, he’ll have another chance to share a platform with Cameron and Clegg a fortnight later.

David Dimbleby will host a Question Time special with the leaders of Westminster’s three biggest parties on the last day of April, just a week before the only poll that matters begins, which risks blocking out insurgent trio Ukip, the SNP and the Greens.

With that in mind, expect the smaller parties to be squeezed. The SNP are currently expected to pull in around 35 seats, so backing under 42.5 at 5/6 with Ladbrokes ranks as a no-brainer.

Ukip have slipped to as low as 12% in recent polls, having hit 16% earlier this month. They seem certain to grab between 10%-15% of the vote on May 7th at 11/8.

Some small movement in Miliband’s favour occurred in the market to be Prime Minister at the first Queen’s Speech of 2015, with Cameron back out to 4/5 at the head of affairs (from 4/6 earlier in the week). The Labour leader is hot on his heels at 1/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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