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Summary

  1. Labour to create a new task force to crack down on illegal immigration
  2. UKIP's Nigel Farage to face BBC audience questions on 30 April
  3. David Cameron visited Gravesend in Kent and took part in a Sikh parade celebrating the festival of Vaisakhi
  4. There are 19 days left until the general election

Live Reporting

By Dominic Howell and Rob Corp

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Recap

Here's a quick recap of today's main political stories:

* A large part of the debate today was taken up by Ed Miliband's announcement that a Labour government would set up a task force to target firms who encourage low skilled migration and undermine the minimum wage

* Meanwhile, David and Samantha Cameron joined thousands of people celebrating the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi in Kent

* Mr Cameron also said pensions campaigner Ros Altmann would be made a Tory peer and minister for consumer protection if the party wins the election

* The number of NHS nurses in England is set to fall by almost 2,000 over the next four years according to government projections, Labour has said.

* The Lib Dems said they would double the number of employers offering apprenticeships to young people if the party wins its way back into government

* A UKIP campaign leaflet went viral for the wrong reasons when it was given the red pen treatment by an English teacher who spotted more than a dozen errors

* Labour leader Ed Miliband has ruled out a coalition with Plaid Cymru as he made his first general election campaign visit to Wales

*And finally a taste of what tomorrow might bring includes David Cameron's announcement that up to £4bn worth of Lloyds bank shares will be offered to small investors at below-market prices if the Conservatives win the election.

That's it for tonight folks, see you tomorrow from 08:00 BST, for all the reaction analysis and news of the main political stories of the day - including the Andrew Marr Show from 09:00, which features Prime Minister David Cameron, Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

UKIP 'no one-trick pony'

Nigel Farage
PA

Party leader Nigel Farage has insisted that UKIP is not a one-issue party solely preoccupied with issues surrounding immigration and Europe. He told a public meeting that the party's pledges of spending 2% of the UK's GDP on defence and of a "brownfield building revolution" to ease the UK's housing shortage proved it was not a "one-trick pony". Mr Farage, speaking in Ramsgate, Kent, in the South Thanet constituency, said this week was UKIP's "coming of age" with its manifesto launch.

Labour leader mobbed by a hen party (yes, really)

Labour leader Ed Miliband is used to cameras flashing and requests for "selfies", but even he may've been somewhat taken aback when his battle bus rolled into Chester earlier today.

I'll let the Chester Chronicle take up the story :

One of the 25-strong group of hens from Knutsford spotted the Labour battle bus in City Road after she popped outside the Westminster Hotel for a crafty cigarette. Within minutes the hen herself had been alerted along with the full entourage. After some negotiations, Ed’s spin-doctors let the bride-to be on board for a brief one-to-one and a selfie. But after cries of ‘Ed, Ed, Ed!’ the man himself appeared at the door of the coach and waved for a group selfie."

And what makes the Chronicle's story even more astounding, is that they've got hold of a video of the whole thing. 

Sunday Herald front page

Sunday Herald front page
Sunday Herald

Andrew Marr show, Sunday 19 April

Just a subtle reminder that there is quite a bit of politics on your BBC TV tomorrow, kicking off with the Andrew Marr show from 09:00 BST on BBC One.

Andrew's guests include Prime Minister David Cameron, Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable and Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Set the Teasmade for 08:30 and you'll be ready for what looks likely to be a cracking show.

Labour warns of fewer nurses in NHS

The number of NHS nurses in England is set to fall by almost 2,000 over the next four years according to government projections, Labour has said.

Accusing the Conservatives of having a "secret plan", Labour's Andy Burnham said fewer nurses would push hospitals "over the edge".

But the Tories say the projections Labour has based its claim on are "out of date" and they argue that the number of nurses has increased by 6,900 and "even this report shows that the number in training continues to rise".

Read the full story here.

Sunday Mirror front page

Sunday Mirror front page
Sunday Mirror

Sun on Sunday front page

The Sun on Sunday front page
Sun on Sunday

Tories 'to sell Lloyds shares to the public'

The Conservatives would launch a sale of shares in Lloyds Banking Group to the general public if they form the government after 7 May, the party is to announce on Sunday.

Under the Tories' plan, shares in the bailed-out bank would go on sale to individual investors a year after the general election.

So far, the government has raised £9bn from selling part of the taxpayers' 43% share-holding in the bank, which had to be bailed out by the last Labour government during the global financial crisis of 2008-9.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to say on Sunday:

The £20bn bail-out of Lloyds Bank by the last Labour government became a symbol of the crisis that engulfed the British economy under Labour. After the public bailed it out, people feared they wouldn't see their money returned. Today they are."

Lloyds Bank
PA

One for the aficionados

BBC News Channel

Speaking of the papers, reviewing Sunday's front pages for the BBC News Channel at 22:30 and 23:30 will be the Independent's Whitehall editor Oliver Wright and political editor for the Sunday Times, Tim Shipman.

Scotland on Sunday front page

Scotland on Sunday front page
Scotland on Sunday

Sunday Telegraph front page

Sunday Telegraph front page
Sunday Telegraph

Sunday Express front page

Sunday Express front page
Sunday Express

Independent on Sunday front page

Independent on Sunday front page
IoS

Sunday Times front page

Sunday Times front page
Sunday Times

Sunday's Observer front page

The Observer
The Observer

Andrew Neil

Daily and Sunday Politics presenter

tweets:

Labour has 3 point lead in Sunday Times, Tories 4 point lead in Observer. NEVER say pollsters in pockets of papers for whom they poll"

Another Sunday paper opinion poll

It being Saturday night, opinion polls commissioned by some of the Sunday newspapers are being released as the presses roll.

This time it's YouGov, for the Sunday Times, whose figures suggest Labour have a three-point lead over the Conservatives. These are the headlines:

Lab 36%

Con 33%

UKIP 13%

Lib Dem 8%

Green 5%

Tory welfare reform

New Statesman

Across at the New Statesman, reporter Jonathan Portes has written a piece about the Conservatives' plan for welfare reform. He writes that the Tory plan for budget surplus is "dependent on large cuts to spending on working age social security benefits".

More political rich list

Here's a few more interesting stats from the Sunday Times Political Rich List we've just mentioned (see entry 19:24).

The rich list
Sunday Times

The figures also show that just 76 people accounted for 41% of all individual and corporate donations made to the political parties and other political causes in Britain over the past five years.

Labour fall behind Conservatives - poll

The Labour Party has slipped behind the Conservatives, according to an opinion poll to be published in Sunday's Observer newspaper.

The poll suggests support for the Conservatives is being maintained at a steady 36%, while support for Labour dropped two points to 32%, pollsters Opinium said on Saturday.

Opinium said it surveyed 1,995 adults between 16-17 April, a period which included the televised BBC opposition debates.

Peter Hunt

Travelling with Labour leader Ed Miliband

tweets:

In a North Wales supermarket I was asked by 1 shopper if I was his bodyguard;and by another if I was the shop manager"

Labour leader Ed Miliband
BBC

Farage: EU needs 'rethink' over Ukraine

By BBC political correspondent Alex Forsyth, with the UKIP campaign

UKIP leader Nigel Farage
PA

Nigel Farage has said the EU and Nato need to "rethink what they're about" and "stop going for territorial expansion". The UKIP leader said at a public meeting that he believes there should be a great deal of "guilt" over the situation in Ukraine. Mr Farage accused Prime Minister David Cameron of suggesting Ukraine should be part of the EU and Nato as far back as 2005, saying it was "lunacy" He said:

Russia has always been paranoid about encroachments coming from the west. I could not believe it. We finished in a situation where the democratically elected leader of Ukraine was brought down in a coup by people waving European Union flags."

Mr Farage was responding to a question on his views on Russia and Ukraine at a public meeting in Ramsgate, Kent. He said:

I believe we hold a large degree of guilt over what has started to go wrong in Ukraine. I said at the time if you poke the Russian bear with a stick do not be surprised when it reacts."

Mr Farage said he did not condone any of President Putin's actions, before saying: "I do think the EU and Nato need to rethink what they're all about and stop going for territorial expansion." He said history showed territorial expansion caused more wars than anything else.

Miliband rules out coalition with Plaid

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been in north Wales today, where he told the BBC he wouldn't be asking the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru to join a coalition government led by him if he becomes prime minister.

Mr Miliband said Labour having a majority government would be in the "best interest for Wales and the best interest of the UK".

Labour leader Ed Miliband
BBC

You can read more about the Labour leader's Welsh campaigning here.

There now follows a public service announcement

At the risk of sounding like your mum, have you washed behind your ears... and registered to vote?

The deadline for getting on the electoral roll in time for the 7 May general election is this Monday, 20 April.

How do you register to vote? Click here and we'll tell you.

There is no deadline for having clean ears.

Splashing the cash

The Sunday Times has published its first-ever "political rich list" which reveals the individuals who have given the most money to political parties.

Colin and Chris Weir
PA

Lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir top the list, with the Sunday Times saying they have donated more than £6.5m to the Scottish National Party and the Yes campaign in last year's independence referendum.

Six out of the top 10 donors on the Sunday Times Political Rich List gave money to the Conservative Party, one to Labour and one to the Liberal Democrats. The figures are for the period from 2010 to 2014.

The SNP also benefited from the largess of Stagecoach buses boss Brian Souter, who gave the party and the Yes campaign £2.1m.

Is it the sentiment that counts?

Daily Politics

Can social media "buzz" really tell you who is winning the election?

That's the question Daily Politics reporter Adam Fleming has been delving into, and it's all about "sentiment analysis", he writes.

You can read all about Adam's investigation into how social networks are being trawled for people's opinions by clicking here.

He's behind you

We have a winner for photograph of the day from Andrew Milligan at the Press Association, who caught this marvellous moment while out on the road in Scotland with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. But what's going on?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) with Alex Salmond (centre) and a supporter, whilst on the campaign trail in Inverurie in the Gordon constituency - 18 April 2015
PA

Labour measures 'won't control immigration'

James Brokenshire
BBC

Conservative immigration minister James Brokenshire has said that Labour's proposals to crack down on worker exploitation would not control immigration.

Labour's announcements today do nothing to control immigration, and indeed their sums simply don't add up. The reality is that Labour in government let things get out of control, and they would do the same if they were re-elected again."

'Check your socks'

Scottish Daily Mail columnist Chris Deerin interviews David Cameron, and asks him what he made of former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond's claim that the prime minister is "a silly, arrogant man".

David Cameron and Ruth Davidson
Reuters

Mr Cameron says:

Well, I’m a bit more polite than he is. I always find Alex someone who, after you've had the meeting, you've got to check your fingers and thumbs and, you know, whether he hasn't pinched one of your socks. But I always managed to have a working relationship with him when it came to the issues that we needed to resolve."

Ed Miliband - as you've never seen him before

Some of the manipulated images on @cooledmiliband
@cooledmiliband

Some commentators say Ed Miliband has an image problem thanks to his admission of being a political geek and the odd unflattering image.

So the only surprise about the new @CoolEdMiliband Twitter account is it took so long to appear. Launched today alongside a website, it's tag line reads:

Politics shouldn't be about who's cool and who isn't. But just in case it is for you, here's some pictures of Ed Miliband looking cool.

Voter apathy

Eddie Izzard campaigns for Labour

Comedian Eddie Izzard joined Labour candidates on the campaign trail in north-west England today.

Jonathan Ashworth, who is standing in Leicester South, tweeted

Tweets: Our #LabourExpress arrives in Pendle for @Azhar4Pendle with @eddieizzard & @LucyMPowell #VoteLabour

Eddie Izzard
@JonAshworth

UKIP campaign correspondent, Alex Forsyth

@AlexForsythBBC

tweets:

Third public meeting of the day for @Nigel_Farage #ge2015 "

UKIP public meeting
BBC

'Modern slavery'

BBC Radio 4

Yvette Cooper
Getty Images

Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been asked about Ed Miliband's announcement that he would set up a task force to target firms who encourage low skilled migration and undermine the minimum wage.

She told Radio 4's PM:

Enforcement is not working at the moment. I think in the most serious cases there should be prosecutions."

She then said that such crimes amounted to "modern slavery", and that "particularly in the care sector" there were "huge numbers of people who are not being paid the minimum wage".

Conservatives unveil new Miliband/Sturgeon poster

Here's the new Conservative poster that was mentioned by party chairman Grant Shapps (see 15:56).

Tory campaign poster featuring Nicola Sturgeon and Ed Miliband
@CCHQPress

The Tories' press office tweets:

With the SNP pulling the strings, Miliband would crash the economy again: jobs, security, livelihoods put at risk."

Cameron pledges 'colour and celebrations' if made PM

In his speech to Sikhs in Gravesend, Kent, David Cameron told the audience the Vaisakhi festival was a "big, bold" sign of their devotion.

He said: "I wanted to make sure Downing Street was part of this too, and I'm proud to be the first prime minister to host a Vaisakhi reception at Number 10.

David Cameron
Getty Images

"And I'll tell you what - if I'm back there as prime minister, I'll keep bringing the community, the colour and the celebrations there, again and again. And I'm sure my children will carry on stealing the jalebi [sweets] too."

Scuffle delays PM's speech

David Cameron was due to deliver a speech in the main hall of the Gravesend Gurdwara in Kent but as he was about to arrive a senior priest apparently objected to prayers being interrupted, so the address was moved to a side room after some heated scenes.

Press Association reporter James Tapsfield filmed the incident and tweeted

Proceedings delayed somewhat on Cameron visit to gurdwara due to scuffle."

Farage quotes Gandhi

Nigel Farage and Gandhi
Getty Images

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has seemingly been taking inspiration from the great Indian independence campaigner, Mahatma Gandhi.

Mr Farage twice quoted Gandhi in relation to UKIP at a public meeting in Sandwich, Kent, saying; "At first they ignore you, then laugh at you, then fight you, then you win".

You can read more in our story.

Minimum wage prosecutions

A bit of detail on Ed Miliband's immigration speech earlier. The Labour leader said there had been five prosecutions of businesses for failure to pay their employees the minimum wage over the last eight years.

According to a written parliamentary answer last October, there were four prosecutions of employers who failed or refused to pay the national minimum wage between 2006 and 2014.

HMRC, which enforces the minimum wage, said it employed "selective and exemplary criminal investigation" for "deliberate non-compliance or obstructive behavior". Most cases of failure to pay are settled without recourse to the civil or criminal courts.