Thursday, 30 April 2015

It's all about the brand..




Tonight the party leaders get their last big moment in front of the cameras to take their message to voters as part of the BBC's "Question Time" series of Q&As. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg will each take on the studio audience, which Chris Hope reports will be up to two thirds left wing, with it all presided over by David Dimbleby. Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood will all have their own Q&As, although Green leader Natalie Bennett will miss out.  

The Conservatives have a spring in their step, with David Cameron telling the Guardian that he's sure his party "will get there", and that it's time "to turn up the dial". The Sun has also backed the party, splashing on its front page "It's a Tory!" (complete with the slightly terrifying image of a baby-sized PM in Kate Middleton's arms). However, the Tories are under pressure on the detail. Former chancellor Lord Lawson has rebuked his party, telling the Spectator that "the Tories have been mistaken in making a flurry of promises, many of them either expensive or unwise or both, which has detracted from their central message of economic recovery based on careful stewardship". 

Labour may feel happy after a new poll found that the party could take 40 key Conservative-held seats, and Ed Miliband survived his interview with Russell Brand, with the cod-Dickensian spouting comedian praising him for "understanding how the country feels". Miliband has also been chided by the New Statesman magazine for his "severe limitations and strategic weaknesses", while he faces growing concern among his troops after a poll suggested the SNP will win every seat in Scotland, in what could be called the "Ajockalypse". 

Nigel Farage is fighting on after a Lord Ashcroft poll suggested he would fail to win in South Thanet. In his defence, the poll does not give his name, so voters who might back a "famous" candidate on the day are excluded. The Ukip leader has been furiously trying to manage expectations about the campaign in a bid to ensure voters turn out on polling day. He told the Telegraph last week that he had something "special" planned on the day, and I've heard it could involve a tank. "It's an open secret", a local activist insisted to me. Farage has previously posed on a tank, and likes to speak of parking "tanks" on other parties' "lawns", so the idea isn't far-fetched for the General of the "People's Army". The local blog Thanet Watch reports this too, but Ukip spinners remain coy - perhaps for fear of seeming complacent about victory. 

The election may be only a week away, but as Lenny Kravitz would say, it ain't over 'til it's over. The Daily Mail has splashed on a poll finding that 40% of voters have still not decided, suggesting 10 million votes are still up for grabs. As tonight's Question Time marathon nears, the party leaders will go all out to convince as many viewers as they can. 


BOJO GOT THE MO

David Cameron has suggested Boris Johnson would make a good prime minister by praising the idea of city mayors going on to lead their countries, Ben Riley-Smith reports. The Prime Minister said Johnson would get a role "at the highest level" in his government if the Tories keep power after the election and hinted he could be given an infrastructure brief. Meanwhile, the London Mayor has given an interview to the Spectator in which he set out his optimistic vision for the party, and said the wealth gap "has been allowed to get too big". 

#QUADILEAKS

The Liberal Democrats have lifted the lid on what they described as secret Conservative plans to cut child benefit and child tax which Nick Clegg's party claims to have vetoed during the Coalition, Rosa Prince reports. In a major breach of the secrecy surrounding the meetings between the parties during the Coalition era, Danny Alexander, who served as Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, claims proposals to slash the benefit were brought to the "quad" – the meeting where policy was agreed – in 2012.

LAST ORDERS

Labour was wrong to bring in 24 hour drinking, the party's health spokesman Andy Burnham has said. The shadow health secretary, who was culture secretary in the Gordon Brown's Government in 2008 was in charge of the policy, admitted that it had been a "mistake" in a BBC debate. Read more here.

MAJORITY OR BUST

A "well groomed" pensioner has placed a £30,000 bet on the Conservatives winning a majority in the general election after walking into a betting shop with the money in his jacket pocket, Auslan Cramb. The anonymous gambler, who is believed to be a former accountant, asked what the odds were in a Ladbrokes branch in Hope Street, Glasgow, and after being told they were 7/1 he produced the money in crisp £50 notes.

U-KIP ON EDITING MY PAGE

Ukip MEP David Coburn has been indefinitely banned from Wikipedia after attempting to alter an article about himself 69 times in six days. Coburn told the Guardian he had directed one of his staff to make the changes in order to clear the page of "garbage" and "nonsense", adding: "I'm sure its all wee cybernats who've got nothing better to do with their time and they should actually be out getting a job."

MAPPING THE ELECTION

Wondering who will win your constituency at the general election on May 7? You don't have to wait. We can tell you what will happen in every seat in England, Scotland and Wales -- or at least, offer you a very well-educated guess. Check out our excellent map here. I've also rounded up 10 prospective new MPs who look like they'll be elected, no matter what

ANIMAL MAGIC

Ever wanted to see Ed Balls' animal impressions? He has showed off his impressive range, including an imitation of a duck, a pig and even a giraffe ("chomp, chomp, chomp"). MailOnline's Matt Chorley has the video. He also told him in an interview that Labour could still work with the Lib Demsin the event of a hung parliament, and would resist the "siren voices" of the SNP. 

OPEN THE DOOR

Britain could be forced to take a set of numbers of refugees from Africa to deal with the escalating migration crisis, the head of the European Commission has said. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission's president, suggested that unless Europe's leaders decided to "open the door" the migrants could try to "break in through the window". Chris Hope has more

SHOW YOUR WORKING

The Tories have come under fire from statistics watchdog Sir Andrew Dilnot for using unpublished Treasury figures to support their claims working families were better off due to changes introduced by the government, PoliticsHome's Sebastian Whale reports

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Who's going to win the 2015 general election? What sort of coalition, if we get a hung parliament, will emerge? According to the betting markets, the chances of the various outcomes, as implied by the latest odds from Betfair, are as follows: Lab minority: 35.7% - Con minority: 15.4% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 19.3% - Con majority: 9.9% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 9% - Any other government/coalition: 8.6% - Lab majority: 0.9% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.3%.

THE LANSLEY FILES

The diaries of former health minister Andrew Lansley in the run-up to his controversial 2011 health service reforms have been ordered to be released by a High Court judge, the Times' Frances Gibb reports. One Cabinet minister privately told the newspaper last year that the controversial reforms, which involved GPs taking control of 80 per cent of the NHS budget — some £80 billion a year — and commissioning services, was "our worst mistake".

RED-FACED LETTER DAY

"I'm afraid that there is no money," an outgoing Labour minister wrote in 2010 for his future successor. David Laws, the Liberal Democrat who found the note, thought initially it was an "interesting snippet", but five years on it's still haunting Labour's campaign. BuzzFeed's Emily Ashton has a nice run-through of the history of the most awkward letter Liam Byrne has ever written.

MAKING YOUR MIND UP

Not sure who to vote for yet? The election is less than two weeks away, but you can use our quick and easy Vote Match app to help you find the party that best matches your views. The results may surprise you...


POLL POSITION


Average of polls as of Tuesday, April 28: Lab: 33.9%, Conservative: 33.8%, UKIP 13.2%, Lib Dem 8.2%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 

TOO MANY TWEETS...

@MattForde: Brand/Ed M very disappointing.Looks like the end of a dinner party when the drunkest person at the table tries to embarrass the cleverest.

COMMENT

From The Telegraph

Allister Heath - Balance implies stability - but in this election it means disaster

James Kirkup - Ed Miliband took a risk meeting with Russell Brand. He may very well be rewarded

From elsewhere

Michael Collins - There are real risks for the SNP in supporting a minority Labour government

Martin Wolf - The British economy after the coalition

AGENDA

09:00 Nick Clegg with Nick Ferrari for LBC Election Call-in 

11:00 Ukip press conference on "shared culture, shared language".

17:45 Former Liberal Party president Des Wilson on Share Radio about "the worst election campaign" he can ever remember.

19:30 Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett feature in a special edition of 'Tonight' on ITV

20:00 Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband take part in a BBC Question Time question and answer programme 

21:30 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes part in a BBC question and answer programme broadcast in Scotland only 

22:40 Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood takes part in a BBC question and answer programme broadcast in Wales only 

22:40 ITV The Agenda with Tom Bradby, guests including: UKIP's first elected MP Douglas Carswell, Sunday Times columnist Camilla Cavendish, broadcast presenter Nick Hewer and novelist Jeanette Winterson.

22:50 UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage takes part in a BBC question and answer programme broadcast in England only 

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT

No business


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Ouch!


"His five years as opposition leader have revealed severe limitations and strategic weaknesses. He has never succeeded in inspiring the electorate and has struggled to define himself. His narrow rhetorical and ideological focus on political economy has left him unable to reach the aspirational voters required to build a broad electoral coalition (see Jason Cowley's report on Harlow in this week's issue). Finally, even after the SNP's victory in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, which we predicted, he remained complacent over Labour's decline in Scotland, where he is even less popular than David Cameron. It is the surge in support for the SNP, which has positioned itself to the left of Labour, that has definitively ended Mr Miliband's hopes of winning an absolute majority. Should he become prime minister, he will now almost certainly be reliant on the support of a large nationalist bloc to govern."

The New Statesman endorses Ed Miliband

Brand New Politics..



The election campaign continues to surprise, with Ed Miliband sitting down to talk politics with Russell Brand, while David Cameron is now promising to outlaw tax rises for five years (which we feature on today's front page). 

Some newspapers have expressed bewilderment about the "MiliBrand" meeting on their front pages, with the Sun opting for the headline "Monster Raving Labour Party". The Star says the pair talked "total ballots", while the Daily Mail asks "Do you really want this clown ruling us? (And, no, we don't mean the one on the left)" - seemingly forgetting that they both can be said to be on the left. Former Labour staffer turned comedian Matt Forde jokingly described the chat as being between a "waffling blagger who doesn't speak normally and... you get the idea". 

So is the 35-minute chat, which is set to be cut to eight minutes and broadcast today online, a tactical misstep? Miliband isn't the first party leader to speak to Brand, Nick Clegg met with him last year to talk about drugs policy. The self-styled revolutionary has previously been critical of the Labour leader, saying voters "deserve better". But Brand has a massive audience of disaffected voters who could be swayed. His "Trews" series of videos have over one million subscribers on Youtube, and the "Milibrand" trailer has already been viewed over 197,000 times, while Labour's latest election broadcast has been seen less than 15,000 times. Miliband will hope voters will watch their discussion for the right reasons, out of interest in politicsrather than in watching a potential car-crash. 

Meanwhile, David Cameron is wooing voters with a new "tax lock", which will enshrine in law a pledge not to raise VAT, national insurance or income tax for five years. This would be a big step, potentially forcing the Tories to make big cuts to find the necessary savings as they would not be able to get more from these "locked" taxes, which together raise around 2/3 of Britain's tax reveue. The recovery still remains fragile, as the Tories warned after new figures out found growth had faltered, so how easily could this lock survive? 

Some may recall what happened to William Hague when he, as Tory leader, promised to cut taxes regardless of the state of the economy. He was forced to ditch his pledge, which critics saw as a hostage to fortune. John Major mocked the "mad" idea, adding: "How do you deliver that in a recession? You don't."

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has given another reminder about the lack of clarity across the political spectrum, warning that the big parties "seem to have a desire to raise tax revenue in vaguely-defined, opaque and apparently painless ways". As next Thursday, a.k.a. election day, nears, Cameron will hope that voters warm to his low-tax "lock".

 


MAPPING THE ELECTION

Wondering who will win your constituency at the general election on May 7? Can't bear to wait until the polls close? Good news: you don't have to wait. We can tell you what will happen in every seat in England, Scotland and Wales -- or at least, offer you a very well-educated guess. Check out our excellent map, put together by Ashley Kirk, Eleanor Steafel and Sophie Jamieson.

NO IFS, NO BUTS

Labour's tax plans have been strongly criticised by Britain's most respected economic forecaster amid warnings that its flagship policies will raise "very little money" and inhibit aspiration, Matthew Holehouse reports. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that plans by Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, to bring back the 50p rate of tax could raise as little as £110million and may even end up costing Britain money. James Kirkup has found that under Labour's tax plans, according to the IFS, a £1,000 pay rise could cost you £10,000.

EXPENSIVE EXPENSE DEFENCE

The regulatory body set up after the MPs' expenses scandal has been condemned for spending an estimated half a million pounds on a failed attempt to with-hold details of politicians' claims, David Barrett and Steven Swinford report. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has fought – and lost – three separate court cases in a bid to avoid having to release copies of receipts and invoices submitted by MPs.

MIGHTY MIRIAM

Nick Clegg's wife Miriam Gonz├ílez Durantez does not suffer fools gladly (no jokes at the back about her husband being one). Bryony Gordon caught up with her on the campaign trail and discussed women in politics, whether she has her own political ambitions and what the Clegg family would do if he loses his Sheffield Hallam seat.

NOISE INVAZION

Keith Vaz's election team is being investigated over claims it illegally used a loud speaker while campaigning, the Leicester Mercury reports. One of the Labour Leicester East candidate's vehicles was filmed blaring out a message while in traffic on Loughborough Road in Belgrave.

GREEN BARMY ARMY

Britain's navy, fighter jets and "stupid" nuclear weapons should all be scrapped to help modernise the country's defence capabilities, the Green Party defence spokesman has said. Parliamentary candidate Rebecca Johnson claimed most countries see Nato as a "security problem" that should be ended in its current form, Ben Riley-Smith reports.

TALKS NOT JUNCKED YET

The leadership of the European Union is open to treaty change if it helps convince Britain not to leave, Jean Claude Juncker has said, as he accused Britain of being "blind" to his support, Matthew Holehouse reports. The president of the European Commission said he wants a "fair deal" for Britain in Europe, and he does not rule out minor treaty change to achieve it.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Who's going to win the 2015 general election? What sort of coalition, if we get a hung parliament, will emerge? According to the betting markets, the chances of the various outcomes, as implied by the latest odds from Betfair, are as follows: Lab minority: 35.77% - Con minority: 13.4% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 20.2% - Con majority: 9.9% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 10.1% - Any other government/coalition: 7.9% - Lab majority: 1.3% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.4%.

ON THE (PINK) BUSES

Who needs Russell Brand when you've got Harriet Harman on board the 'lady bus'? Labour's pink bus has promised to reach the nine million British women who didn't vote in the last election. Radhika Sanghani spent a day on board with Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman - and found it didn't do exactly what it said on the tin.

CH-CH-CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT

If you're a David Bowie fan you're most likely to support the Labour party, while if you're a fan of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini you're more likely to be a Conservative supporter, according to data from Facebook, Rhiannon Williams reports. She has also shed light on what questions people have been asking Google about the general election

AUNTIE'S VERY PREMIER INNS

Since 2010, the BBC has spent over £44.5m on hotels and accommodation for guests and staff, a freedom of information request by LondonlovesBusiness.com's Shruti Tripathi Chopra has found. The corporation spent over £10.3m on booking accommodation in 2014, its highest bill in five years.

FOR WHOM LORD BELL TOLLS

Lord Bell, the advertising guru who helped Margaret Thatcher to three election victories has given his verdict on the election campaign so far to Matthew Stadlen. He also suggests that David Cameron should have replaced Nick Clegg with Boris Johnson, arguing if he had done so, "we'd be 15 points ahead". 

WHO'S THE RACIST?

The Scottish National Party is "openly racist" towards English people, says Nigel Farage. The leader of the UK Independence Party made the attack on the SNP and its supporters during a visit to Hartlepool in the north east of England. Chris Hope has more.

NAZTY NATS

Nicola Sturgeon has said she would still vote for a disgraced SNP candidate who compared Scots who support the Union to Nazi collaborators, Simon Johnson reports. The First Minister said Neil Hay, her party's candidate in Edinburgh South, has learnt his lesson after he tweeted vile messages under a pseudonym comparing No voters to 'Quislings' and saying OAPs were too senile to vote.

U-LIKE UKIP

Ukip have more Facebook likes than Labour and the Liberal Democrats put together, Michael Wilkinson has found. The 371,209 combined likes for Labour and the Liberal Democrats are eclipsed by Nigel Farage's party, 414,119 followers of its page.

MAKING YOUR MIND UP

Not sure who to vote for yet? The election is less than two weeks away, but you can use our quick and easy Vote Match app to help you find the party that best matches your views. The results may surprise you...


POLL POSITION


Average of polls as of Monday, April 27: Lab: 33.5%, Conservative: 34.1%, UKIP 13.1%, Lib Dem 8.3%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 

TOO MANY TWEETS...

@FaisalIslam: Just bumped into @SuzanneEvans1 in Sky reception ... Obviously called her Diane. @krishgm

COMMENT

From The Telegraph

Professor Tim Bale - Confused about the general election? Don't worry, there are only two possible outcomes...

Dan Hodges - Meet Ed Miliband: Labour's leader and pound shop Russell Brand

From elsewhere

Joshua Bamfield/Howard Archer - Will the arrival of royal baby number two provide a boost to the British economy?

Daniel Finkelstein - Labour's hypocrisy has brought us to this crisis

AGENDA

08.30 Ed Miliband launches his attack on Tory plans to axe credits.

09.45 David Cameron speech in Warwickshire.

10.00 Nigel Farage addresses European Parliament on boat deaths. 

11.00 Nick and Miriam Clegg visit primary school in Chippenham, Wiltshire

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis is to publish its first estimate of GDP for the first quarter of 2015

14:00 Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Care Minister Norman Lamb, Louise Bours and Jillian Creasy take part in a BBC Daily Politics debate on health policy

14:30 Tim Knox, Director of the Center for Policy Studies, on Share Radio about "Supreentrepreneurs" and how current policy is hindering them

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond chairs a Cobra meeting in London on the Nepalese eartquake

Gordon Brown is to be awarded an honorary degree by Glasgow University

Freedom House to release its 'Freedom of the Press 2015' report on media restrictions in countries across the world

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT

No business

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

SNP surge..



David Cameron, fresh from telling voters how "pumped up" he feels, has reason to feel perky today after a swathe of polling suggests the Conservative campaign is picking up steam, its recent offensive on Labour and the SNP is paying off, and that Ed Miliband's party will suffer dearly at the hands of the Scottish Nationalists

As the campaign enters its last full week, a poll by ICM for the Guardian newspaper put the Tories on 35%, three points ahead of Labour. Another poll by Lord Ashcroft put the Tories on 36 per cent of the vote, six ahead of Labour, which we have reported on today's front page. The findings may provide, as Lord Ashcroft likes to say, "a snapshot, not a prediction", but polls have tended in the past to underestimate Conservative support, so Tory nerves will be calmed. 

The outlook for Labour isn't quite as rosy. US analyst Nate Silver, who correctly predicted the outcome of the last two US presidential elections, forecast that the SNP would win 48 seats. A TNS survey suggested Labour will lose 40 seats in Scotland, and be left with just one, with the Scottish Nationalists getting 57 out of 59 seats. Meanwhile, the Independent leads on a survey by the pollsters ORBwhich found that the prospect of a post-election deal between Labour and the SNP made one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband's party, which will encourage the Conservatives after their outspoken attacks on the idea over recent days.

The Prime Minister has thrown himself into campaigning with verve in a bid to rebut critics who said he lacked passion. His performance yesterday, going on about how speaking to entrepreneurs "pumps me up", grabbed plenty of attention. "He was shouting so loudly I practically had to hang on to my hair to stop it from blowing clean off my scalp," said our sketchwriter Michael Deacon. "If I'm getting lively, it's because I feel bloody lively," the Tory leader said. "I really feel so passionate about this election". 

Dave's new-found panache has gone down well with the Tory troops, with one candidate telling me: "I'm glad he's giving it a bit more oomph". Lord Bell, Margaret Thatcher's former PR guru, told LBC radio: "He is now showing a lot of enthusiasm, and that's very good. I would have done it a bit earlier." It's tempting to compare the "pumped up" PM to Ed Miliband's "Hell Yeah" moment. The sudden passion stood out, but how will floating voters take it? 

Speaking to the Times, Cameron indicated that his own future as Tory leader is at risk if he fails to win a majority, something few believe will happen (Betfair give it a less than 10% chance of occurring). "Not winning the election outright is obviously not a success," he told the newspaper. Clearly he'll have to stay - in his words - "bloody lively" in order to survive after May 7.


BULLY PULPIT 

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said Ed Miliband was bullied by the Tories into ruling out a post-election deal with her party. The Scottish Nationalist leader, deciding to bully Miliband in turn, made the comment in an interview with the BBC's Evan Davis. This comes after Miliband stressed at the weekend that there would be "no coalitions, no tie-ins and no deals" with the SNP. Speaking earlier to the BBC's Eddie Mair, she insisted that she, not Alex Salmond, was the sole leader of the party, and that the SNP has no "backseat driver". 

NO ED FOR TOP BANTS

Style entrepreneur Lydia Bright, star of the perma-tanned reality show The Only Way Is Essex, got Ed Miliband to reveal he'd be "quite a boring night out". Her chat with the Labour leader, reported by Cosmopolitan, came as part of the @useyourvoice campaign. The Labour leader also admitted he couldn't think of anyone he'd choose to save beyond family and friends if the world was about to come to an end. 

THROW THE BOOKY-WOOK AT HIM

Ed Miliband has been seen leaving the London recording studios and home of Russell Brand on Monday night. A Labour spokesman said Miliband went to film an interview, although the visit has already prompted speculation as to whether the comedian is preparing to endorse the Labour leaderBrand has more than 9.5 million followers on Twitter, runs his own YouTube channel, The Trews, and has infamously urged his followers not to vote.

WHITE VAN DAN'S BLUE FLAG

Dan Ware, the man whose house - showing off three England flags - was snapped by Labour MP Emily Thornberry in a now infamous tweet from Rochester, has revealed he is backing David Cameron, and wants Ukip voters to do the same. Ware, who has been dubbed "White Van Dan" told the Sun: "A vote for Ukip is wasted. They won't win power. And I wouldn't trust Labour to take care of my business."

COALITION DIY

With 650 seats in the House of Commons, a government needs the support of 323 MPs to have a practical working majority. So which parties will have the combined number of seats needed to form a formal coalition after this general election? And how do their policies compare? Here's our excellent tool that lets you see what possible governments could be made. 

POLL-ERCOASTER

The polls can seem confusing, with pollsters who survey voters over the phone like ICM and ComRes recently giving the Conservatives as much as a six point lead. However, online pollsters like YouGov and Populus put the main parties neck and neck, or even give Labour a small lead. How can phone and online polls find such different results? Keiran Padley sheds light on this with his latest Polling Matters podcast, discussing the issue with YouGov's Laurence Janta-Lipinski and ncpolitics.uk's Matt Singh.

DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS (A CAM MUST GO)

David Cameron proposed to his wife while watching Mean Streets, the 1973 gangster movie set in New York's Little Italy. "It was rather an odd proposal," Cameron told Nick Ferrari in a Classic FM interview. He also revealed his softer side, admitting that he does cry when he watches the Sound of Music. This comes after Ed Balls revealed the film also makes him cry

APPRENTICESHIPS? BANK ON ME

A Conservative government would use fines imposed on Deutsche Bank for its involvement in the rate-fixing scandal to fund 50,000 apprenticeships, David Cameron will announce later today. 

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Who's going to win the 2015 general election? What sort of coalition, if we get a hung parliament, will emerge? According to the betting markets, the possible outcomes (taken from Betfair): Lab minority: 37% - Con minority: 14.2% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 20.2% - Con majority: 9.4% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 9% - Any other government/coalition: 7.3% - Lab majority: 1.7% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.2%.

CLEGG'S NEW PLEDGES

The Liberal Democrats issued their first "red line" post-election demand as they said they would only enter a coalition government which sharply increased education spending, the Independent's Nigel Morris reports. The party has also announced another "red line" for future coalition talks - a "stability budget" that would force Labour and the Tories to spell out more detail on their economic plans. 

MAKING YOUR MIND UP

Not sure who to vote for yet? The election is less than two weeks away, but you can use our quick and easy Vote Match app to help you find the party that best matches your views. The results may surprise you...


POLL POSITION


Average of polls as of Sunday, April 26: Lab: 33.6%, Conservative: 33.5%, UKIP 13.5%, Lib Dem 8.3%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 

TOO MANY TWEETS...

@LukeMcGeeWent for dinner with Ed Miliband.He ordered a seafood platter & started sharing it out. Asked what he was doing: "Redistributing the whelks"

COMMENT

From The Telegraph

Danny Dorling - Only one lucky generation ever struck housing gold

Lord Sterling and Nick Butler - We ignore national security at our peril

From elsewhere

Suzanne Moore - I'm sick of this estate agent election

Peter Bingle - Ukip expected to break through in 2015 but this election looks like Nigel Farage's last hurrah

AGENDA

08:30 Ukip Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans and Economy Spokesman Patrick O'Flynn will host a press briefing on Tax and the Economy

09:30 A preliminary estimate of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2014 is to be published by the Office for National Statistics

09:50 David Cameron makes speech on apprenticeships

10.00 The Institute for Fiscal Studies is to release analysis of Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and SNP tax and benefits plans

14:00 'Daily Politics Election Debates' on BBC Two continue with defence 

Ed Miliband makes a speech on immigration 

Nick Clegg speaks about education

Five years since Gordon Brown's 'bigoted woman' gaffe, when he was recorded calling Labour supporter Gillian Duffy bigoted after inadvertently leaving his microphone on after meeting her on the campaign trail in Rochdale

Four years since Ed Balls sent *that* tweet

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT

No business

Monday, 27 April 2015

Getting down to business..



Did you miss the Conservatives' #longtermeconomicplan? Expect to hear a lot about it today now 5,000 small business owners have thrown their weight behind the party, warning in a letter to the Telegraph that "a change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years". You can read their letter - which we have splashed on - in full here (and see who signed it). 

David Cameron, looking personally fired up after what some have called the Tories' wobbly weekendis preparing to make the most of this emphatic endorsement, using the launch of the Conservative small business manifesto to say he leads the party of "grafters and the roofers and the retailers and the plumbers". This echoes his declaration two weeks ago when unveiling his revamped right to buy scheme that "we are the true party of working people". 

After last week's escalating attacks by the Conservatives on any idea of Labour and the SNP working together, which polls suggest voters began to tire of hearing, the spotlight is firmly back on the economy. Ed Miliband will unveil plans to scrap stamp duty for most first-time buyers, which makes the front pages of the FT, Times ("Labour's sweetener to help buy first home") and Mirror ("Put your house on Ed"). The move, effectively Labour's right to buy counter-offer, is their attempt to fight the Conservatives for the "party of aspiration" title.

The choice though, according to David Cameron, is simple. He will say that Labour "sneer" at businesses, while the Tories cheer. Labour officials have reacted with fury to 5,000 small business owners endorsing the Conservatives, with a source close to shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna telling me the letter is "nothing more than an online petition" organised by Karren Brady, the Tory peer and star of The Apprentice - who has also written for us about why the businesses have signed the letter.

Labour is getting into another fight with business, after Ed Miliband and senior figures in his party earlier in April denounced the more than 100 company bosses who signed a letter to The Telegraph warning that a Labour government would "threaten jobs and deter investment" in the UK. However, small business owners are a different story. "Five years ago I dreaded the Conservatives getting in," wrote entrepreneur Frances Dickens on Londonlovesbusiness.com, "but on May 7 I will be voting Conservative for the first time because start-ups and SMEs including mine will be much safer under the Tories." 

Going after big business may allow Ed Miliband to claim that only Labour backs working people. However, Miliband will need to be more careful in how he responds to small business owners, as they're the aspirational audience he needs on side.

 


STABBED IN THE FRONT

Boris Johnson has told Ed Miliband that he would do "more damage to this country than he did to his brother" in a bitter head-to-head confrontation. The Mayor of London, who recently said he would be "honoured" to be Tory leader, and the Labour leader appeared on the sofa together during the Andrew Marr show on BBC One. You can watch their clash hereJohnson was also asked about his recent comments that Miliband had "clearly stabbed his brother in the back", a reference to his defeat of his brother David in Labour leadership election.

GREECED LIGHTNING

People demanding "political excitement" should go to Greece while those who want more "theatre" should look to Hollywood, David Cameron has said as he made an impassioned defence of his party's focus on the economy, Steven Swinford reports. In a speech in Yeovil, Somerset, the Tory leader addressed criticism that the Conservative campaign has been lacking passion because of a relentless focus on the economy alongside attacks on Ed Miliband's credibility.

NATASTROPHE

The parties may have moved off talking about the Scottish Nationalists to focus on the economy, but Peter Mandelson's advisory firm Global Counsel has noted that Labour "has left open the possibility" of an SNP deal and that this would push Labour towards higher public spending. In a briefing note, the consultancy's chief economist warns: "Labour may be wary of the SNP, because it knows an arrangement with the party could annoy some English voters, but it may have little choice if it is to form the next government".

INEVIT-EPENDENCE

Scotland is likely to win independence in the next few years, according to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch . "Scots may be crazy or not wanting self rule, but who can deny right of self determination?" Murdoch, 84, wrote on his Twitter feed."Feels inevitable over next few years." 

GETTING FE-DUP

David Cameron risks losing the support of the Democratic Unionists in the next parliament after the party warned the Tories are in danger of "abusing" the House of Commons in their rhetoric about Scotland. In a blow to the prime minister, who is hoping to rely on the DUP in a hung parliament to keep him in Downing Street, the party's leader at Westminster, Nigel Dodds, used an article in the Guardian to warn of the dangers of fuelling "nationalist paranoia" in Scotland.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Who's going to win the 2015 general election? What sort of coalition, if we get a hung parliament, will emerge? According to the betting markets, the possible outcomes (taken from Betfair): Lab minority: 37.1% - Con minority: 14.3% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 21.8% - Con majority: 8.3% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 9.1% - Any other government/coalition: 6.9% - Lab majority: 1.5% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1%.

RED-FACEDBOOK PT94

A Conservative council candidate has apologised after referring to Ed Miliband as "the Jew", Jewish News reports. Gulzabeen Afsar, who is standing in Derby, made the remarks in a Facebook exchange, writing: "Just can't take Mr Ed Miiband seriously!! DC has what it takes to be the future PM." When another user suggested she should show some respect "for the future PM", Afsar replied: "Nah bro! never ever will I drop that low and support the al yahud [Arabic for Jew] lol.

ELECTION, ELECTION, ELECTION

The high-end property market has all but frozen ahead of the general election, temporarily paralysed by uncertainty and the vagaries of potential policies such as Labour's mansion tax, Anna White reportsEstate agents specialising in lavish homes in London's affluent core, typically unruffled by market forces, and bullish buyers who seek out the latest, prestigious addresses for their A-list clients, will admit through gritted teeth that the market for properties selling for millions of pounds has stagnated.

MAKING YOUR MIND UP

Not sure who to vote for yet? The election is less than two weeks away, but you can use our quick and easy Vote Match app to help you find the party that best matches your views. The results may surprise you...


POLL POSITION


Average of polls as of Saturday, April 25: Lab: 33.4%, Conservative: 33%, UKIP 13.3%, Lib Dem 8.5%, Green 5.5%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 

TOO MANY TWEETS...

@HarryDCarr: Dear all British political parties: increasing demand through special offers will not help housing issue. Lack of demand is not the problem.

COMMENT

From The Telegraph

Boris Johnson - Miliband could savage our cities faster than any bomb

James Bartholomew - Why you should stop worrying and learn to love inequality

From elsewhere

Matthew D'Ancona - Cameron isn't wobbling. He knows victory is within reach

Dominic Lawson - If Ed has his way, people who rent will end up living in crowded slums

AGENDA

14:00 Home Secretary Theresa May, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, Norman Baker, Steven Woolfe and Simon Thomas take part in a BBC Daily Politics debate on home affairs 

17:00 Prime Minister David Cameron will be joining Emma Crosby live on 5 News for a presenter-led interview while also taking questions from viewers via email and social media.

19:30 Nicola Sturgeon is interviewed by Evan Davis for BBC One's 'The Leader Interviews' 

20:30 Statistician Nate Silver is asked to predict who will win the election on 'Panorama' on BBC One 

22:40 Nick Clegg joins ITV's Tom Bradby on The Agenda, with comedian Rory Bremner, broadcaster and columnist Mariella Frostrup and Times writer Rachel Sylvester.

Ed Miliband speaks about living standards in the North East in the morning

David Cameron speaking in London in the morning

TODAY IN PARLIAMENT

No business