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Summary

  1. The Conservatives promise to create two million new jobs if re-elected
  2. Labour say they will help small firms by cutting business rates by an average of £400
  3. Plaid Cymru launch their election manifesto with a call to end austerity
  4. Lib Dems promise to spend billions more on mental health
  5. There are 37 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Victoria King, Alex Stevenson and Victoria Park

All times stated are UK

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Review of the day

Polling Day minus 37 was a day dominated by numbers:

  • More than 100 business leaders signed a letter backing the Conservatives' approach on the economy
  • The latest YouGov/Sun poll put the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck on 35%
  • Revised GDP figures put UK growth for 2014 at 2.8% - the fastest growth since 2006
  • David Cameron said a Conservative government would help business create two million new jobs over the next five years
  • The Liberal Democrats promise an extra £3 billion on mental health services
  • UKIP launched their latest campaign poster featuring escalators leading up the white cliffs of Dover. Leader Nigel Farage said net migration should fall to around 30,000 a year
  • Plaid Cymru published its general election manifesto. They want equivalent powers for Wales to those now being granted Scotland, an extra 1,000 doctors and 50,000 new jobs via more public contracts for Welsh companies
  • And finally, Nick Clegg met Joey Essex. The TOWIE star tweeted "nice to meet you to mate". One can only assume he meant "nice to meet you too, mate"

Labour reaction to business letter

Labour's press team have taken to Twitter to give the party's reaction to a letter from 100 business leaders backing the Conservatives.

"No one will be surprised that some business people support the Tories. That's nothing new," says a spokesman.

"The recovery may have reached big firms in the City but it hasn't reached homes of working people. Labour's job is to stand up for them."

Business leaders' letter

More on the letter from 100 business leaders, backing Conservative policy. The tycoons highlight George Osborne's policy of steadily lowering corporation tax to 20%.

"The result is that Britain grew faster than any other major economy last year and businesses like ours have created over 1.85 million new jobs.

"We believe a change in course will threaten jobs and deter investment. This would send a negative message about Britain and put the recovery at risk," says the letter to the Telegraph .

Signatories include BP chief executive Bob Dudley, Prudential chief executive Tidjane Thiam and George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods which owns the Primark, Silver Spoon and Ovaltine brands. Sir Charles Dunstone, the chairman of Dixons Carphone and Talk Talk plc, and Duncan Bannatyne, a former star of Dragons' Den also put their names to the letter.

Tomorrow's Sun

The Sun
Other

More zero hours reaction

Ed Miliband's zero hours announcement has split opinion.

Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "At long last the damage of zero-hours contracts is to be addressed. This news will be welcomed by the tens of thousands of people for whom the world of work is a daily lottery."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Exploitative zero-hours contracts are a gift for bad employers who can effectively hire and fire staff at will."

The CBI - sometimes described as the bosses' union - is less impressed with Mr Miliband's policy.

CBI Director General John Cridland said: "The UK’s flexible jobs market has given us an employment rate that is the envy of other countries, so proposals to limit flexible contracts to 12 weeks are wide of the mark.

“Of course action should be taken to tackle abuses, but demonising flexible contracts is playing with the jobs that many firms and many workers value and need.

"These proposals run the risk of a return to day-to-day hiring in parts of the economy, with lower stability for workers and fewer opportunities for people to break out of low pay.”

Tomorrow's i

i
BBC

Tomorrow's Financial Times

Financial Times
BBC

Tory rebuttal

The Conservatives have hit back at Ed Miliband's plans for a crackdown on zero hours contracts. A spokesman said: "Zero hours contracts account for just one in 50 jobs in our economy, this government has already banned the abusive ones - and all the while Labour presided over zero hours contracts with no safeguards for three terms and 13 years while they were in power.

"The fact is that three quarters of the new jobs since this government came to office are full time – these are families across the country getting into work with the security of a regular pay packet".

Tomorrow's Times

Times
BBC

Wind farm 'fatwa'

Nick Clegg claims the Conservatives have an "ideological fatwa" against new wind farms The Lib Dem leader said the Conservatives had "abandoned" their commitment to green issues. He added: "They appear to have absolutely no interest in the environment whatsoever - in fact some of the most time-consuming battles I have been absorbed with over the last five years are stopping, particularly the Treasury, from tearing up the government's basic commitments to renewable energy and to a sustainable energy policy."

Tomorrow's Daily Mail

Daily Mail
BBC

Tomorrow's Daily Telegraph

D Tel
BBC

Letter to the Telegraph

James Landale, BBC Deputy Political Editor

More than a hundred of Britain's leading company bosses, many of them household names, employing collectively half a million people have written a letter to the Daily Telegraph publicly endorsing the Conservatives and their economic policy.

Zero hours contracts

Ed Miliband's big campaigning theme on Wednesday will be zero-hours contracts. He will pledge legislation to ban such contracts for employees who are, in practice, working regular hours in the first year of a Labour government.

And he will seize on David Cameron's admission, in his TV clash with Jeremy Paxman, that he could not live on a zero hours contract. Speaking at one of his People's Question Time events, in Yorkshire, the Labour leader will say:"If it’s not good enough for him, it’s not good enough for you. And it’s not good enough for Britain either.

"These zero hours contracts have become a symbol of the Tories’ failing economy with stagnant wages and falling productivity leaving a recovery which isn’t reaching your front door and a deficit still at Downing Street’s door."

Analysis: Latest polls

BBC polling expert David Cowling says: YouGov’s first poll, following their Sunday 4% Labour lead, had Conservative and Labour level-pegging on 35%; and TNS had the Conservatives one point ahead of Labour (33% v 32%) with UKIP on 16% - their highest figure in a campaign poll so far. A ComRes poll of 40 Labour seats in Scotland confirmed other national polls, with a 19% swing from Labour to the SNP. There was better news for Labour in two London-wide polls. ComRes had Labour on 46% and YouGov on 45%, with the Conservatives hovering around their 2010 share of 34%. ComRes represented a 5.5% swing to Labour and YouGov a swing of 4%. The Lib Dems were down from 22% in 2010 to 8% now. UKIP continued to underperform in London with around 8-9%; and the Greens will be disappointed that they were on 4% in both polls in a city where they have performed better than average in the past. For a more in depth look check out our poll tracker.

UKIP organiser steps down

UKIP's national organiser in Wales has stepped down two days into the general election campaign. John Atkinson, who holds other positions in the party, told BBC Wales he needed to reduce his workload. Read more here .

'Finished in Scotland'

The Scottish Conservatives have put the boot into the Lib Dems, following the latest ComRes poll showing a 19 point swing from Labour to the SNP. The Conservatives are marginally down on 13%, with the Lib Dems on 2%. "This poll confirms even more emphatically that the Lib Dems are finished in Scotland," says a Tory spokesman..

Gavin Hewitt

@BBCGavinHewitt

tweets : Worth remembering: 'in every election since 1992 the post-election budget has had big tax rises.' Institute for Fiscal Studies #election2015

Nick Grimshaw

@grimmers

tweets: You should be watching Free Speech on BBC Three with @TinaDaheley and @rickedwards1

Party funding 'must change'

Norman Lamb tells the BBC 3 Free Speech audience that the way parties are financed currently is "an outrage". The Liberal Democrats, he says, have tried throughout the Parliament to get agreement to limit donations. He accuses the Tories of trying to "buy" seats.

Next Lib Dem leader?

Norman Lamb does not rule out a bid for his party's leadership when a vacancy arises, which he is sure it will at some point. But he tells the 'free speech' audience he would have to think hard about the impact it would have on his family.

Tuition fees

Not surprisingly Norman Lamb is getting a hard time over the Lib Dems' broken promise on student fees. He says it was a "big mistake" to make the promise and the party has "taken a hit" - but it was the right thing to do in the national interest. Fees mean "universities will be forced to listen to students about the sort of education they want," he argues.

Hand guns

UKIP's Diane James doesn't agree with Nigel Farage on another issue it seems. The UKIP leader has said he believes the current laws on hand guns should be relaxed. Ms James - who is UKIP's home affairs spokeswoman - says the current legislation should remain in place and should even be strengthened. It does not seem as if she has much influence over her party's leader, points out one audience member.

Polyglot passengers

The UKIP MEP Diane James has said she has "no issue at all" with hearing people speaking foreign languages while travelling on a train. The MEP was challenged on the BBC 3 Free Speech programme about remarks made by UKIP leader Nigel Farage to the effect that he wished he could hear an English voice on the train. Ms James said she had "absolutely no view" about Mr Farage's comments.

BBC 3 Free Speech

Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb is now facing questions from young people.

Norman Lamb
BBC

Roger Mosey

@rogermosey

tweets: If only the studio audience for Cameron and Miliband had been as lively as the one on @bbcthree 's #freespeech now.

Latest Seat Forecast - Newsnight

Newsnight

For the course of the general election campaign, BBC Newsnight each evening will be publishing an exclusive Newsnight Index on the likely outcome, based on a sophisticated forecast model. It is produced by Professor Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia and his colleagues at electionforecast.co.uk. For more information on how the Index is produced, see here.

_

Newsnight seat forecast
BBC

BBC 3 free speech

UKIP MEP Diane James is answering young peoples' questions live now.

Diane James MEP
BBC

Social media row

A general election candidate has faced criticism on social media for telling a woman in a gay marriage that he did not want to hear from her again. Peterborough Conservative Stewart Jackson sent the response to constituent Laura O'Sullivan after she messaged him to say she would not vote for him. Social media consultant Sue Llewellyn said the message was "stupid". Mr Jackson has been unavailable to comment on the exchange. Read the full story here.

Cameron contradicts police over Syria girls

David Cameron appears to have contradicted senior Metropolitan Police officers by suggesting the east London schoolgirls who fled to Syria could face criminal charges if they choose to return to the UK. Asked what would happen to the girls, who are thought to have joined Islamic State, should they ever try to return, he told BBC London: "Whoever has gone out to join a terrorist organisation is breaking the law and has to face the consequences of breaking the law.

"We have to let the law take its course in the proper way."

Earlier this month, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the Bethnal Green Academy pupils would not face terrorism charges if they came back.

Plaid Cymru's manifesto

Kevin Schofield, chief political correspondent of The Sun

@schofieldkevin

tweets : The Tories will launch their election manifesto on April 13. #GE2015

Will election campaign make any difference?

Daily Politics

Live on BBC Two

The election campaign has been been under way for about 24 hours but some potential voters may not be excited by five more weeks of politics. Daily Politics reporter Ellie Price took the mood box - an unscientific test with a box with plastic balls - to see whether the public thought the campaign and election would make any difference to them. Watch what voters have to say

Ellie Price with voters
BBC

'Back in the fight'

Some reaction to the latest Comres poll predicting a 19 point swing from Labour to the SNP in Scotland.Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy says the poll shows some improvement for his party but they were not getting carried away. "We are back in the fight but we are still the underdogs. If this poll is repeated on election day it could hand the keys to Downing Street back to David Cameron", he says.

SNP campaign director Angus Robertson said the poll was "welcome" but the party wasn't taking anything for granted. He also claims more SNP MPs will be good for the whole of the UK. "By electing more anti-Tory MPs than Tory MPs we can lock David Cameron out of Downing Street - and put an end to the ideological commitment to austerity which is hurting communities across Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.".

Cannabis safer than alcohol, says party

Daily Politics

Live on BBC Two

Using alcohol causes violence and crime, unlike cannabis, said the leader of Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Party (CISTA), which is fielding candidates in the general election. Paul Birch said he would prefer his own adult children to use the drug, rather than drink wine. Watch his interview with Andrew Neil

Paul Birch
bbc

Plaid: Very real alternative to austerity

Andrew Neil

Daily and Sunday Politics

Plaid Cymru has unveiled its general election manifesto and pledged to be a "very real alternative" to what it claimed was the austerity consensus from Westminster. Leader Leanne Wood spoke about the party's poll ratings compared to UKIP, and its stance over potentially working with a minority Labour government, despite Plaid's refusal to back the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons. She claimed Labour was trying to "frighten people" and said she would not "prop up" a Conservative government. Watch her interview

Leanne Wood
BBC

Poll suggests 19-point swing from Lab to SNP

ITV News/ComRes

A poll released tonight suggests a 19 point swing from Labour to the SNP in Scotland. If translated into votes, the SNP would be on course to take 28 of Labour's 40 Scottish seats. .

Nuclear deterrent 'absolutely essential'

Appearing live on #BBCAskThis, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude says one of the biggest priorities for a majority Conservative government will be maintaining the Trident nuclear programme. "There cannot be any higher priority than the security and safety of this nation," he said. "Continuing an independent nuclear deterrent is absolutely essential to that," added Mr Maude, who has served as a minister under Thatcher, Major and Cameron, but is standing down as an MP.

Get involved

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BBC News website reader:

I work in the NHS as a paramedic and I definitely feel hammered over the last 4 years don't feel better off at all. Thank you Mr Cameron.

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator

@FraserNelson

tweets:

David Cameron tells Heat magazine “i’m a man, I can’t do two things at once.” Like chop carrots in kitchen while giving interviews?