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  1. Labour and the Conservatives argue over the impact of government tax and benefit changes
  2. The Conservatives claim 94% of working households are better off
  3. But Labour say average families are £1,100 a year worse off since 2010
  4. A former Conservative parliamentary candidate joins UKIP
  5. There are 31 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Victoria King, Andy McFarlane and Rob Corp

All times stated are UK

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Recap: Easter Monday

Tax has been the main talking point.

* The Conservatives claim 94% of working households are better off under the coalition's tax and benefit changes, while Labour argues families are on average £1,100 a year worse off than in 2010.

* The Lib Dems and Conservatives battled to claim the credit for increasing the starting point at which people pay income tax.

* Former Conservative candidate for Hull West and Hessle, Mike Whitehead, has joined UKIP. Nigel Farage claimed it was a "defection", while the Conservatives say he was sacked.

* The Green Party replaced its candidate for Erewash after Victoria Martindale, who was serving a suspended jail sentence for breaching gas safety regulations at a property she was letting out, stepped down.

Tories hit back at Blair

With Tuesday's Guardian and the Independent both reporting former Labour PM Tony Blair is to enter the election fray with an attack on the Conservatives' over Europe, the Conservatives have this evening issued a statement:

Tony Blair

Tony Blair has no credibility on the EU. He gave away Britain's rebate, now he wants to deny the British people their say on the European Union. David Cameron has stood up for Britain in Europe - securing a cut in the EU budget, vetoing a new EU Fiscal Treaty that didn't guarantee a level playing field for British business, and getting British taxpayers out of bailing out the euro."

Fight for 'core vote'

Martin Bentham, of London's Evening Standard, tells the BBC News Channel that Mr Cameron's appeal - as highlighted by the Telegraph - is symptomatic of the main parties trying to harden up their core vote.

Labour doesn't want to lose people to the Greens or indeed, in Scotland, to the SNP. It's trying to drag those people back. The Tories definitely want to ensure they can appeal and not be outflanked on the right by UKIP."

'Come home' call

The Telegraph's front page - featuring David Cameron's call for UKIP voters to "come home" to the Conservative Party - is interesting the BBC News Channel's paper reviewers.

Gaurdian diarist Hugh Muir reminds viewers that it's often said about David Cameron that he's much better on tactics than strategy, adding:

In a very short space of time he's gone from calling UKIP supporters loonies and fruitcakes to saying 'we're in trouble, can you come back home and rejoin the Conservative Party', which doesn't look very good for him."

Blair's EU 'chaos' warning

The Guardian has advance notice that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to "step into the election battle" by giving a speech warning of the "chaos" that could be caused by a vote to leave the EU, should the Conservatives win a majority on 7 May.

"Think of the chaos produced by the possibility, never mind the reality, of Britain quitting Europe," he will reportedly say. "Jobs that are secure suddenly insecure; investment decisions postponed or cancelled; a pall of unpredictability hanging over the British economy."

The former PM praises Labour leader Ed Miliband for showing real leadership on the issue by following his own convictions "even when they go against the tide”.

Tuesday's Guardian front page

Guardian front page, 7/4/15

Tuesday's Telegraph front page

Daily Telegraph front page, 7/4/15
Daily Telegraph

On the front pages...

The papers are starting to release images of Tuesday's front pages. And the FT has grim news for the next government, saying whoever wins the election will face an "immediate crisis" in the NHS budget. Finances are, apparently, in a much worse state than thought.

Financial Times front page, 7/4/15
Financial Times

Andrew Neil

Daily and Sunday Politics


Now Cameron calls Clegg "desperate" and LDs "minor party" But won't they kiss & make up May 8th if electoral arithmetic works for them?"

#constituencysongs: A 'hit' on social media

"Woking My Way Back To You", "Arundel All Night" and "I Fought Bassetlaw" were my feeble attempts to join the Twitter meme du jour, where social media users have been contributing their own suggestions under the hashtag #constituencysongs. We've rounded up some of them here .

The digital election (again)

In a contest widely described as the UK's first digital general election (although your correspondent remembers such a title being pinned to the 2010 vote), a new study suggests Prime Minister David Cameron has beaten comedian Russell Brand to the title of Britain's "most politically influential person on social media".

Russell Brand
This man is reportedly not as influential as the PM

The study by social media consultancy Telegraph Hill puts London mayor and prospective Tory candidate Boris Johnson third in a study of 800 politicians and commentators.

Labour leader Ed Miliband was fourth, while SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was in fifth place.

Tax tussle

Sean Curran

Parliamentary correspondent

What we are getting now is Labour and the Conservatives really arguing over one of the central issues in any election – do the voters feel better off."

Our correspondent says the parties will spend the coming weeks arguing over those voters who remain undecided. "There will be quite a lot of those people. Opinions vary but it's thought that maybe 24% - nearly one-in-four haven't decided which way they're going to jump," he adds.

Wrapping up the Conservatives' day

Carole Walker

Political correspondent

David Cameron said there was not just an economic case but a moral case for low taxes, adding this went to the heart of what he believed in as a Conservative.

But in an apparent acknowledgement that many people do not yet feel they are benefitting from the upturn in the economy, he said: "I don't just want people to see Britain's recovery on the TV or hear it on the radio, I want them to feel it in their lives."

He claimed today's changes would help that to happen.

David Cameron
Getty Images

There is another flipside to the commitment to low taxes. The Tories need to save £30bn to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18 and if they won't put up taxes, all the money will have to come from spending cuts.

They have said they will save £5bn by cracking down on tax avoidance, £13bn from departmental spending and £12bn from welfare.

But there remain big unanswered questions on which benefits and which government projects will have to be axed.

Labour faces similar questions about which taxes it would increase and what public spending it would cut to meet its commitment to eliminating the deficit as soon as possible in the next parliament.

'Come home' says Cameron to UKIP voters

Conservative leader David Cameron has urged potential UKIP voters to "come home" to the Tories on 7 May, but his appeal has been rejected by the anti-EU party's leader, Nigel Farage:

Neither former Labour nor Conservative voters who have switched to UKIP are going back. They've found a new, more authentic home, one in which they don't get roundly abused by their hosts."

Apathy "a good thing"

If some, despairing at the "flatness" of the campaign so far, hope for more visionary policies, Financial Times writer Janan Ganesh reckons they're misguided . He writes "swing voters worry about the Tories' blueprint for a smaller state and Labour's taste for leveraged spending... their grievance with the main parties is actually their excess of vision not their lack of it".

"The average voter is indifferent to politics," he says, arguing that it's a good thing.

Political apathy is a mark of civilisation. Boring elections are proof of national success. Politics is exciting in countries where the rules of the game are contested."

May2015 Election, New Statesman election site



Btw, a third of voters say they watched #leadersdebate in full. Would mean 15m. That's twice as many as actually did… "

Table showing election debate viewing figures

Thirst past the post

Proof the Lib Dems can organise a good booze-up: Leader Nick Clegg ensures he's got the right pump before pouring a pint of Somerset-brewed Butcombe Bitter at the Green Park brasserie, Bath. The deputy PM reportedly declared the beer to be "very nice".

Nick Clegg at Green Park brasserie

Giles Wilkes, former adviser to Vince Cable


tweets :

On this "we're for the bosses you're for the workers thing" - I remember it at second hand, mid 2012. But said in passing, ironically"

Tax plan scepticism?

The PM is asked if he regrets expressing scepticism about the plan to raise the income tax threshold when it was put forward by the Lib Dems. "This tax cut has been delivered by a Conservative prime minister and a Conservative chancellor," he replies.

Nick Clegg in three words

David Cameron - back on stage in Bristol - is asked by a reporter to describe Nick Clegg in three words. The PM declines the invitation, instead replying: "You will find the minor parties saying increasingly desperate things." Ouch.

Osborne's pension pitch

Mr Osborne, who the PM introduced simply introduced as "George", is running through the government's pensions shake-up, and reminding his audience about increases in the state pension during the last parliament.

George Osborne, squinting

Pensioners can now draw down as much or as little of their own pension pot as they want, when they want. That's only happening because Conservatives believe if you've earned your money, you've saved your money, you should be trusted with your money."

Again, the complexities of coalition politics. Pensions Minister Steve Webb was blowing the Liberal Democrat trumpet over the same policy earlier.

Carole Walker

Political correspondent

David Cameron in Bristol says there's a moral case for low taxes."

David Cameron

Chancellor George Osborne is on stage now, squinting into the spring sunlight - do none of the Conservative campaign team know how to work the blinds?

More on tax

It's Labour that Mr Cameron really has his sights on, however. He argues that the election involves a simple choice between tax rises under Labour, or cuts if his party's in power.

You’ll see hard work being rewarded, because we the Conservatives are on your side."

Labour, the PM says, will take more of your money and spend it on someone else.

“In their eyes the government knows better than hard-working taxpayers," he adds.

Tax cut claims

Mr Cameron says 26 million people are getting a tax cut, with three million of the poorest paid being taken out of tax altogether “all thanks to the Conservatives”. That’s more or less exactly what Nick Clegg said when claiming the credit for the Lib Dems earlier. (See 14:59)

Cameron in Bristol

And here is the PM arriving at the science park - he's speaking now - you can see it by clicking on the "live coverage" tab above.

David Cameron is greeted in Bristol

PM speaks on tax changes

David Cameron is speaking at Bristol and Bath Science Park, where's he joined by Chancellor George Osborne. Nick Clegg's also in the West Country. Having accused the Conservatives of pinching Lib Dem income tax policies, we wonder if the Deputy PM thinks Mr Cameron is trying to muscle in on his pitch.

James Blake, Channel 4 News and STV



Jim Murphy keeps pushing #memogate. Says the enquiry "needs to get to the bottom of what @NicolaSturgeon has said or didn't say" #c4news"

Farage poll blow

UKIP leader Nigel Farage brushes off the results of a ComRes poll which put him behind the Conservatives in South Thanet. Commissioned by UKIP donor Aaron Banks, it put the Conservatives on 30 points, UKIP on 29 and Labour on 28.

What it shows is yes, there is a real battle for this constituency. That's always been the case."

Nigel Farage in Broadstairs, Kent

Mr Farage insists that "raw data" from the poll put UKIP five points ahead, adding: "It's only after a variety of re-weightings that we're back to a sort of three-way split."

'Central battleground'

Where better to spend a bank holiday Monday than aboard a bus full of Conservative party activists?

Gavin Hewitt on the Conservative bus

Our correspondent Gavin Hewitt, travelling to England's South West with David Cameron, says the party's boasts about increased income tax allowances - and Labour's counter-claims about the effect of VAT rises and benefit changes - form the core arguments in the campaign.

The central battleground is whether the recovery, which the Tories are basing their campaign on, will convince people that it's going to work for them... and Labour that says this 'so-called recovery' is working for the few."

Ben Riley-Smith, political correspondent, Daily Telegraph



Remarkable that Labour feels it needs to remind English voters that the SNP - who they cannot vote for - will not protect their interests."

Easter Ed

A fair few commentators are wondering where Ed Miliband has got to over the Easter break. Toby Young tweets that the Labour leader hasn't been seen for 48 hours. "Holed up with his $15,000-a-day American debate coach?" he wonders.

Meanwhile, Spectator contributing editor Harry Cole tweets: "

So anyone actually seen Ed since Sat? Is he hiding? Or prepping more zingers for the challenger debate #WheresMili

Graphic showing Ed Miliband dressed as "Where's Wally?"

If he's not boning up ahead of the 16 April debate with Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon, Natalie Bennett, of the Greens, and UKIP's Nigel Farage, perhaps the Labour leader is dashing to his nearest city farm to have his photo taken with a lamb?

Pic: Nigel Farage campaigning in Broadstairs

Nigel Farage in Kent

Farage on 'defection'

More on that switch to UKIP of former Conservative candidate for Hull and West Hessle, Mike Whitehead. While the Tories insist it's not a defection, on the basis the party sacked Mr Whitehead last Wednesday, his new boss Nigel Farage tells reporters he was "pretty confident a fortnight ago" that Mr Whitehead would join UKIP.

Mr Whitehead was in dispute with fellow Conservatives on East Riding Council before Easter, says Mr Farage, but remained the Tory candidate at 09:30 BST  today.

Either way, the fact is that somebody who was a Conservative candidate has now crossed the floor and joined UKIP and that's the kind of trend we're seeing, particularly at local council level across many parts of the north."

Taking a dip?

Nick Clegg at Bath Spa

If eating in public is risky for a politician, surely leaning over the edge of a swimming pool is tantamount to dicing with death. Here's Nick Clegg, taking a break from the stresses and strains of the campaign trail, at Bath Spa. If he takes a tumble we can presumably expect headlines along the lines of "Did he jump? Or was he pushed?"

Public underwhelmed?

Sean Curran

Parliamentary correspondent

We know our avid readers are hooked on election gossip. But, amazingly, not everyone's so immersed in politics.

"There’s nothing like a couple of days away from work to give you a bit of perspective," says our correspondent Sean Curran. He's been enjoying a couple of days off "just hanging about" - his words, not ours. "You know the sort of thing, a cup of coffee here, a longish wait for a blood test there."

I began to cast an ear over the general chatter around me. Only to discover that the general election campaign was the dog that hasn’t started barking yet."

"During my entirely unscientific, unrepresentative, idling I heard lots of conversations about holidays, television programmes, one or two celebrities and the triumphs and mishaps of peoples’ relatives.

"My fears that teenagers really do speak another language were confirmed, but I didn’t hear anyone talking about the election. It could be that I’m spending my free time in the wrong places (or the right ones depending on your point of view) but perhaps the election hasn’t really taken off yet and grabbed the public imagination?"

It shows why parties repeatedly keep pushing the same themes, he says, "in the hope they eventually catch the attention of my fellow hangers-about".

Lamb update

That tweet featured Conservative candidate Robert Halfon, in case you weren't sure.

Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian columnist



OFFICIAL: lamb photo ops are now the new relaxing-in-your-kitchen photo op #election2015"

Conservative Robert Halfon strokes a lamb

Like sheep...

David Cameron feeding a lamb

The Lib Dems say the Conservatives are trying to pinch the credit for their income tax policy. Well,according to the Daily Mirror,they could make a case for them trying to steal their photo opportunity ideas as well. Apparently Lib Dem leader in Scotland Willie Rennie was pictured feeding a lamb just a few days ago...

Income tax gain v VAT loss

While the governing parties do battle to take credit for the income tax cut - in the form of an increase in the point at which people start paying - Labour's Treasury spokesman Chris Leslie argues that people are no better off at all.

Chris Leslie

Anything that people have got through things like the personal allowance has been more than offset by, in particular, that massive rise in VAT."

That 2.5% sales tax increase, in 2011, has led to a situation where people are £1,100 a year worse off, while typical household incomes have fallen, Mr Leslie tells the BBC News Channel.