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Summary

  1. Conservatives welcome a letter from over 100 company bosses backing a “Conservative-led government”
  2. Labour publishes its own letter signed by “people from all walks of life” as it pledges a crackdown on zero hours contracts
  3. Lib Dems discuss plans to triple paternity leave to six weeks
  4. Ed Balls and Nick Clegg take their campaigns to Scotland
  5. There are 36 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Aiden James, Kristiina Cooper and Tim Fenton

All times stated are UK

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Recap of the day

Campaigning on Wednesday has been dominated by business and taxation policies ahead of the much-anticipated leaders' TV debate.

  • The Conservatives welcomed a letter to the Telegraph signed by 100 business leaders endorsing their economic policies.
  • Labour, which released its own rival letter, pushed its proposal to force employers to limit zero-hours contracts to just 12 weeks.
  • George Osborne and Ed Balls clashed again over tax, this time the 40p rate.
  • The Lib Dems promised new fathers six weeks paternity leave instead of the current two but a poll suggested leader Nick Clegg could lose his Sheffield seat.
  • UKIP argued against 16 and 17-year-olds being allowed to vote in any future referendum on the EU, claiming children are " brainwashed " in schools.
  • Samantha Cameron, out campaigning in Kent, said her husband was "not too nervous" ahead of the leaders' debate.
  • The SNP thinks Mr Cameron should be nervous. Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie said the PM would face "a feisty first minister" - party leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Tomorrow's Sun

Sun front page
The Sun

Tomorrow's Star

Star front page
Star

Tomorrow's Express

Express front page
Express

Morning Star front page

Morning Star
Morning Star

Tomorrow's Daily Mail

Daily Mail front page
Daily Mail

Tomorrow's Independent

Independent
independent

Tomorrow's Daily Telegraph

D Tel
BBC

Tomorrow's Mirror

Mirror front page
Mirror

i front page

I front page
Independent

Business leader speaks up for Labour

Bill Grimsey, a former chief executive of Wickes, Iceland and Focus DIY, has said many small businesses have "suffered under this government" because of the "burgeoning costs of business rates". Speaking to BBC Radio 4's World Tonight, Mr Grimsey- an adviser to Labour on small business - dismissed the letter signed by 100 executives backing Conservative policy. Mr Grimsey said they had been enjoying a 29 per cent pay rise while most people had seen their disposable incomes fall. He said Labour wouldn't increase borrowing or put up taxes but added: "They may well raise the top rate of tax for those people who have signed that letter."

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Poll roundup

David Cowling, Editor, Political Research Unit

Pretty slim pickings, writes the BBC's David Cowling. YouGov delivered a one point Labour lead - 36% compared with 35% for the Conservatives, with the Lib Dems on 7%, UKIP on 12% and the Greens on 5%. But maybe time to remind ourselves that the crucial bit we often miss is that the real significance of these polls is not where they are now, but what the difference is between now and the 2010 general election. YouGov suggests neck and neck at present but 36% for Labour is up 6% on 2010 while 35% for the Conservatives now is down 2% on 2010. So, what appears neck and neck is, in reality, a 4% swing from Conservative to Labour since the last election; a swing that would take Labour into largest single party territory and well on its way towards a majority of its own (Scotland permitting). As we navigate our way through all those polls to come, remember to measure every one of them against the crucial 2010 figures: Conservative 37%, Labour 30%, Lib Dem 24%, UKIP 3% and Green 1%.

Tomorrow's Times front page

Times front page
The Times

Tomorrow's Guardian

Guardian front page
The Guardian

Call for grammar school expansion

Weald of Kent School
BBC

In an open letter to the prime minister, the National Grammar Schools Association has called for a grammar school expansion to be approved before the general election. A proposal by a school in Tonbridge, Kent, to open an annexe for girls in nearby Sevenoaks is under consideration by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. The Department for Education turned down a previous bid. NGSA chairman and former Ulster Unionist MP Robert McCartney said: "The Conservative Party will be betraying thousands of bright pupils from poor backgrounds, for whom the restriction of grammar school places is the most prejudicial, if it does not allow this expansion before the general election." The last Labour government banned the creation of new grammars but the coalition has considered the expansion of existing ones in areas of high demand.

Ed Miliband on his brother and the last time he cried

Ed Miliband has been talking about why he ran for the Labour leadership against his brother David. In an interview with Absolute Radio, he said: "We offer different things to the Labour Party. I was the person that thought we needed to move on from New Labour and I ran for the same reasons that I am running for prime minister now, which is I think the country is unfair. It works for the richest in our society. It doesn't work for most people. We have got to change that so we really do put everyday people, working people, first." What kept him going amid the criticism, he said, was his "inner belief". As for when he last cried, he revealed that it was while watching the film Pride with his wife Justine.

Lib Dems would review anti-terror strategy

Nick Clegg has said the Lib Dems would carry out a review of the Prevent anti-radicalisation strategy if the party is in power again after the election. The aim of the strategy is to work with public bodies, the education sector and charities to combat the risk of people being "drawn into terrorism". The Lib Dem leader said there was a "strong feeling that Prevent does not enjoy the confidence of many of our Muslim communities". A Prevent "duty" on public officials was included in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, one of the coalition's final major pieces of legislation passed before the dissolution of Parliament.

Hemingway backs Labour on zero-hours

Wayne Hemingway
BBC

Businessman Wayne Hemingway, the founder of the fashion label Red or Dead, tells the BBC he welcomes Labour's proposals on zero-hours contracts. If a business has to employ people on zero-hours contracts it is better if it folds and custom goes elsewhere, he argues. He says governments have not acted on inequality, adding: "I think this country could stand higher taxation." Higher-tax nations such as the Scandinavian countries "are happier places to live", he claims.

The battle of the business leaders

Lord Bilimoria - chairman of Cobra Beer and independent peer - who signed today's letter in support of the Conservatives, has said Labour is adopting policies that are "worrying to business". But, speaking to Channel 4 News, he said he didn't agree with the Conservatives on everything. "We should be investing much more in higher education," he said. Also speaking to Channel 4 News was Norman Pickavance, former HR director at Morrisons, who conducted a review of zero hours contracts for Labour. He initially recommended that workers on ZHCs should be employed for a year before getting permanent contracts. But he said Labour's policy of granting full rights after 12 weeks of regular work was in line with further "tougher" recommendations he had made to Ed Miliband. He said ZHCs were leading to unprecedented levels of job insecurity - and even to heightened chances of health problems.

'Looking forward' to debate

The SNP's Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie tells the BBC he is "looking forward to the dynamics of a Tory Prime Minister and a very feisty First Minister" at tomorrow's election debate. It will feature seven party leaders including the SNP leader - and Scotland's First Minister - Nicola Sturgeon. Mr Hosie claims that Ms Sturgeon is "the only party leader in the whole of the UK to have positive ratings".

Next big battle?

BBC political correspondent Vicki Young tells BBC News Channel that income tax - and the 40p rate - could be "the next big battle of the campaign". Tax invariably features in election campaigns and 1.6 million more people have been dragged into the rate over the last decade. From 6 April the threshold will rise so that the 40p rate applies to those earning £42,386 up to £150,000. Labour have also signed up to this plan but the question is - what happens after that? The Conservatives want to raise the threshold to £50,000 - eventually - but haven't said how they would pay for it. Earlier, Labour's shadow chancellor Ed Balls said he would like to see the threshold rise but would not make "promises where I can't show where the money will come from". He has not ruled out freezing the threshold and the Chancellor George Osborne seized on that possibility to attack Labour in turn.

ComRes

@ComResPolls

tweets: As eyes turn to tomorrow's #leadersdebate, how are Cameron and Miliband viewed by the public? #GE2015

ComRes
ComRes

Why is UKIP off to a slow start?

Robin Brant, BBC Political Corresondent

Nigel Farage
BBC

I am not sure if it is by design or if he just wants a slow start, but two days in to this general election campaign and UKIP leader Nigel Farage appears to be taking it easy.

Or at least that is how it seems, writes the BBC's Robin Brant.

Logo-less Clegg

Chris Buckler, BBC Political Correspondent

The Liberal Democrats have confirmed they were responsible for publishing a campaign leaflet in support of Nick Clegg that did not have any party logos on it. Mr Clegg’s campaign team is denying that it was trying to distance their leader from the Liberal Democrats. A poll by the Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft suggested today that Mr Clegg is trailing the Labour candidate in his Sheffield Hallam constituency and could be in danger of losing his seat. When asked about that the Deputy Prime Minister said the party’s own polling indicated it was doing better when researchers asked about individual candidates rather than the Liberal Democrats as a whole.

A spokesperson said the “magazine-style” leaflet which features the colour blue was intended to appeal to people not normally engaged by politics. It states that the contest in Sheffield Hallam is between “the Lib Dems and Labour” and that “the Conservatives and UKIP are out of the race” there.

Nick Clegg leaflet
BBC

UKIP on ZHCs

BBC Radio 5 Live

UKIP's economics spokesman Patrick O'Flynn tells Radio 5 Live Drive: "After a year on a zero hours contract, a worker should be entitled to transfer to a fixed term contract or a permanent post - but we would exempt small businesses from this."

Media sexism to be monitored

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, is on the look-out for sexism in general election news. It will be monitoring whether women's shoes or hair get more attention than their views.

Latest seat forecast

BBC Newsnight Index

For the course of the general election campaign, BBC's 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 Index
BBC

Labour's letter of support

Labour has published its own letter of support from business leaders, supporters and zero hours contract workers.

Zero Hours Contracts - increasingly common?

Reality Check

Zero Hours Graphic
BBC

Have I Got News for You

@haveigotnews

tweets: Have I Got News For You returns - Friday 10th April at 9pm, on @BBCOne . #HIGNFY

Your austerity debate

Email: politics@bbc.co.uk & text: 61124

Danny Griffin:

You are debating austerity via email & SMS

Email: politics@bbc.co.uk & text: 61124

Election live reader:

Julian Huppert, Liberal Democrat candidate

@julianhuppert

tweets:

On @BBCCambs to discuss why it is absurd to suggest children don't play football on streets because of immigrants

Images of the day

David Cameron
Leon Neal/AFP

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Lilian Greenwood, Labour candidate

@LilianGreenwood

tweets: Amazed how many people have shared their experience of exploitative zero-hours contracts today - @UKLabour will ban them. #VoteLabour

Get involved

Text: 61124

Glen Mills: Any party can get 100 businesses to back them

How will union members vote in May?

Daily and Sunday Politics

Graphic on how union members voted in 2010
BBC

The role that trade unions, and their members, may play in the general election is examined by the BBC's Christian Fraser. He discussed their historical links with the Labour Party with Jo Coburn on the Daily Politics.

Watch the clip

Zero hours contract ban 'appalling'

Daily and Sunday Politics

Lorraine Turner
(C) British Broadcasting Corporation

Labour's bid to clamp down on "exploitative" zero hours contracts was an "absolutely appalling suggestion", said businesswoman Lorraine Turner, who runs Yes Direct Mail Limited and employs six people, when she spoke to Jo Coburn on the Daily Politics. She said the firm needed flexibility from its staff, as it worked to tight margins, with no money to pay for staff when there was no work for them. A Labour government would give employees the right to a normal contract after working 12 weeks of regular hours.

Watch the interview

Party plans for the EU, HS2 and NHS

Daily and Sunday Politics

Independence from Europe Party's Mike Nattrass
BBC

The Independence from Europe Party was started by former MEP Mike Nattrass, who said it was "to the left of UKIP". Its key policies include leaving the EU, opposition to the HS2 rail project, no privatisation in the NHS, and reducing immigration. Mr Nattrass was asked by Jo Coburn on the Daily Politics how Independence from Europe was different to UKIP, when both wanted Britain to cut its ties with Brussels.

Watch the interview

Election live readers continue debating austerity via SMS

Text: 61124

Election live reader: In response to 16.58. No it couldn't. The deficit is far far higher than anything that could be covered by closing tax loop holes or increased taxes as the coalition found out to their cost. We don't just need to get rid of the deficit. We need a budget surplus to start paying off our debts and we are a long way off that currently. Efficiency savings are critical instead of the usual Labour way of throwing money at the problem