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Summary

  1. Newsnight Live is your one stop shop for elections analysis from the Newsnight team, updated throughout the day
  2. In the next of the BBC leader interviews, Evan Davis will be speaking to Nigel Farage on BBC 1 at 19:30, with reaction to follow on Newsnight
  3. Allegra Stratton is spending the day on the campaign trail with the Chancellor George Osborne

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Hamlet without the Prince

James Bray, Newsnight producer

Picture of newsnight producer
BBC

In our efforts to spend this election avoiding the key marginals, party leader buses, manifesto launches and everywhere else that normal journalists are to be found, we found ourselves tonight at...a hustings, in Bradford West.

Unglamorous, low-key and entirely un-cutting-edge, these events are nonetheless a key redoubt on the front line of local democracy, seeing candidates of all stripes and profiles compete on a level playing field, naked before their electorate. They are also, usually, a media-free zone - who wants to watch unknown parliamentary candidates calmly discussing policy, after all, when we can just as easily see Jeremy Paxman or Evan Davis grill the party leaders?

But in Bradford West, currently represented by George Galloway, things have been a bit different. Recent hustings have descended into slanging matches, with Galloway theatrically brandishing the marriage certificate of his Labour opponent, Naz Shah, and accusing her, among other things, of fabricating her past.

Now that - that's telly. So, here we are, grubbily hoping to catch some of those fireworks on camera.

But we were to be disappointed. Galloway never turned up, and instead of a punch up what we witnessed was a courteous, civil and informative meeting of prospective voters and their candidates, discussing everything from migrants in the Mediterranean to the localism bill. All very healthy indeed, but hardly prime time TV. Some of the candidates remarked on how different the tone was from Bradford West's hustings of recent weeks; I wonder what made the difference...

Milifandom - Newsnight restores some balance

As if this campaign wasn't weird enough - sockpuppets, secret videos, and a sudden discovery of the SNP centre stage - this has also been the week when bored adolescents have suddenly discovered their love of politics. Or should that be politicians. And thus Milifandom was born. In the interests of BBC balance, and so they didn't feel left out, Newsnight thought we'd get the ball rolling for the other party leaders, too... Watch here and enjoy.

Lost in the post

The Shapps-Wikipedia letter

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

We are, by the way, waiting to see the letter that Grant Shapps has promised to send to Wikipedia about that Guardian story. In fact, despite my queries since midday, the Conservative press office still won't say whether it has even been written. You'd almost think they don't want us writing about it.

Also, there's still no news from "Contribsx", the user account at the centre of this, on who they are. The person using that Wikipedia account, after all, can clear all of this up.

Grant Shapps
Getty

How I learned to stop hunkering down in the Treasury

The chancellor on life after the omnishambles

Allegra Stratton

Newsnight Political Editor

George osborne in hi vis jacket speaking to a truck driver
PA

We've been out on the road with the chancellor George Osborne - his team has lost count of the number of visits he's done but they reckon it's over 50. Some days he does two, some days four. They are working seven days a week.

We caught up with him this morning at a Derbyshire distribution warehouse in the seat of Erewash. The Tories are defending it against Labour attack. We then travelled with him to Bury North. Again, the Tories are defending it. On the face of it this is a campaign ploughing massive resources into standing still at the 307 seats they won in 2010 (by the end of this parliament they'd gone down to 302).

Except Tories think that if they put in the hours to defend these seats properly, together with other parts of the strategy, it will add up to more than the sum of its parts. Proper defence of these, plus the gain of what they hope could be as many as 15 Lib Dem seats, plus even perhaps a few Labour gains and then they start to be back in business. Conservatives say they have started targeting Lib Dem seats they hadn't been bothering with at the start of the campaign - recently they've visited the Lib Dem seats of Lewes and Eastleigh.

While visiting a steel factory in Bury North, George Osborne talked to me about how he clambered back from the low point of that 2012 "omnishambles" budget. It's partly because he found an animating idea: the "Northern powerhouse". I put it to him that the Northern powerhouse isn't just an idea he loves but an idea that helped rebuild him as a politician after that 2012 Budget.

George Osborne said: "I came in as Chancellor with a difficult inheritance, I took difficult decisions, I think the right decisions, they weren't necessarily popular. By the middle of the parliament I'd given up trying to explain to people: I said I've got my plan I'm going to stick to it. I was hunkered down in the Treasury, it can happen to politicians and I said 'enough': I've got to get out there and explain to people what I'm doing and doing it for the people here."

And the booing at the Olympics? "That was part and parcel of realising that we were not getting our message across."

You can take a look at the exchange here.

UKIP's half-manifesto

A not entirely complete costing

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

Nigel Farage
PA

The implications of Duncan's post are pretty clear: UKIP is planning the steepest cuts of any major party and we do not know where they would fall.

That state of affairs, sadly, is not unique. None of the parties has been so bold. But Evan's interview also brought out a curiosity about UKIP's plans.

Evan pushed Nigel Farage a bit on the UKIP manifesto. Evan, quite rightly, noted that there are a lot of proposals whose prices are not spelled out fully in the document.

Mr Farage, referring to the party's decision to get their plans externally appraised, said: "I think it's all costed." As Newsnight Live readers will know, it really isn't.

When I costed out their policies, I only included things that were properly spelled out. Evan noted that child-care, for example, did not appear in the costings, Mr Farage replied: "Parents would get involved in that".

Smaller class-sizes? That is super-expensive: it means more teachers and classrooms per child. UKIP wants to enforce "the current restriction on class sizes to 30 pupils" and aims "to reduce this to 25 pupils over time".

Ah - well, Mr Farage said. Less immigration means fewer children. When I was costing out the implications of UKIP's plans last week, I just dumped everything without a price tag attached. What, exactly, is in that pile?

In addition to childcare and smaller class sizes, the uncosted policies include the removal of VAT from work on listed buildings and sanitary products, loans to help do up poor housing stock, more grammar schools, keeping special schools, extend the tax exemptions for older cars, removing road tolls where possible, more free parking, grants to support local environmental investment, upgrading prisons, longer jail sentences, CCTV in every abattoir, weekly bin collections and exemptions for military personnel on active duty from direct taxation.

I am also still in correspondence with the party about one costing in particular - the cost of exempting STEM students from fees. Happily, Mr Farage has now invited us to take up this costing with the CEBR, the external company UKIP got to price out and quality-assure their work.

That's an invitation I'll be taking up.

UKIP's 'dynamic force'

Can tax cuts really close the deficit gap?

Duncan Weldon

Economics correspondent

In his interview with Evan today Nigel Farage argued that when thinking about how much a UKIP government might need to cut spending, one needs to take the "dynamic force" of their proposed tax cuts into account.

In other words, one should look at the impact on the wider economy - and hence government revenues - of their tax changes when analysing their plans.

It's certainly true that cutting taxes, in certain circumstances, can lead to an increase in government revenues. Although the impacts can be hard to model in advance - and, indeed, are often disputed afterwards too.

Mr Farage, though, seemed to suggest that UKIP's £18bn of tax cuts could do quite a bit of the work of closing the current budget deficit by 2017-18 (which is when UKIP plans to balance the current budget) through this dynamic impact.

But for that to work the dynamic impact would have to be very high indeed.

Closing the current budget gap (taking into account UKIP's other spending and tax plans) requires just over £30bn of fiscal tightening - spending cuts or tax rises. Assuming that around 40% of any extra GDP flows into the Treasury's coffers as tax, then to close the current budget deficit UKIP's tax plans would have to boost nominal (cash terms) GDP by around £75bn by 2017/18.

Currently nominal GDP is forecast to grow from £1,870bn in 2015/16 to £2,022bn by 2017/18 - a total increase of £152bn. So achieving a £75bn boost to that figure would mean growth being about 50% faster than currently expected. Three years worth of nominal GDP growth would have to be crammed into just two years. That would require the tax cuts to have very large dynamic impact indeed.

Nigel Farage and ghettos

Judge for yourself

Marc Williams

Newsnight Election Producer

The Leader Interviews: Nigel Farage
BBC

In his interview with UKIP leader Nigel Farage (tonight on BBC One at 7.30pm, with a shorter version on Newsnight at 10,30pm), Evan played a clip of an interview that Mr Farage gave to Sean Hannity of Fox News in January of this year. It was done in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris.

The transcript of the clip was:

"Wherever you look, wherever you look, you see this blind eye being turned and you see the growth of ghettos, where the police and all the normal agents of the law have withdrawn and that is where Sharia Law has come in."

Evan asked where these ghettos are. Mr Farage claimed that he had been talking about the situation in France and not about the UK.

There was a bit of back and forth about what and where exactly he was talking about. The simplest thing for us to do is to give the full transcript of the Fox News exchange and link to the video and people can make their own minds up about what Mr Farage was talking about.

Hannety: Let's talk about the specific countries. So if there are 750 so-called "no go zones" in France and Sharia courts on top of it, what other countries have allowed muslims that have come into their country to separate and create this independent state and Sharia courts. What other countries?

Farage: Well, let me give you an example. In the United Kingdom, there have been tens of thousands of Female Genital Mutilations that have been carried out. Despite that there has not been a single prosecution of anyone for carrying out FGM. We even. a few years ago, had some quite clear examples where the immigration services were actually allowing women to come into Britain from Pakistan and elsewhere to join polygamous marriages, something that is against our laws. So, wherever you look, wherever you look, you see this blind eye being turned and you see the growth of ghettos, where the police and all the normal agents of the law have withdrawn and that is where Sharia Law has come in.

Brown to Cameron: you are whipping up English nationalism

Former PM accuses Tory leader of fomenting resentment on both sides of border

Laura Kuenssberg

Newsnight Chief Correspondent

Gordon Brown campaigning during referendum
Getty Images
Gordon Brown campaigning during Scottish referendum

At a small meeting tonight, Gordon Brown has accused David Cameron of stirring up English nationalism to try to win the election, and the SNP of misleading people over their offer to be part of a Labour led administration.

The former PM told a gathering of fewer than 100 voters in Fife that "the only way they can win is to build resentment in Scotland of the English and resentment in England of the Scottish" and that David Cameron is "whipping up English nationalism".

On the SNP he said "people must realise they are not interested in a Labour government"

He said only a Labour government would "immediately deal with food bank poverty, zero hours poverty, inequality and the NHS" warning that large numbers of SNP MP s could mean "months of constitutional chaos".

Brown criticised the tone of the election campaign so far saying "people are talking all the time about hung parliaments, negotiations, deals...We will talk about poverty, inequality, the health service".

Updated analysis - Laura adds:

Gordon Brown was hailed as the hero who swooped in at the last minute and 'saved the union' in September. Whether that characterisation is fair, in my view it's a pretty chunky over statement, there is no question that his intervention towards the end of the independence campaign gave the whole thing a jolt.

So in the last few days it's been fair to wonder where he has been in this general election campaign. Tonight we know the answer. He has been attending quiet, small, private meetings, with more planned for this week, with candidates he knows and likes or those who ask. We heard he was put on the road in the West of Scotland last night, and heard he's been on his home turf in Fife too.

Tonight, although he didn't want to do a formal interview, Newsnight was able to track him down and hear what he had to say to a group of voters in Dunfermline - his stump speech. It may have been a quiet meeting, but it had a loud message.

Ballot Bots

@farahjassat

You know it's only two weeks before the general election when robo-politicians and voters emerge in the form of an online election game to get you in the mood, courtesy of BBC Newsbeat which tweets

Dangerous memes & volatile opinion polls: it's the robot election inside @ballotbots #GE2015

Image of Ballot Bots election game
BBC

Aimed at first time voters the task is to pair robot politicians with robot voters as you progress through a series of zones on your way to Number 10. Extra moves and bonus points can be gained by avoiding campaign pitfalls, picking up social media credit and correctly answering bonus questions. You can find out more here.

It's not a political knowledge quiz so don't expect an election version of University Challenge - it's just a bit of fun.

My latest leader interview with Nigel Farage

@EvanHD

Evan Davis

Newsnight Presenter

Nigel Farage
BBC

A year ago, we assumed that Nigel Farage would be the centre of attention in this election, with a campaign combing anti-establishment populism with a bit of nationalism. In the event we got the predicted political earthquake, but we got the wrong country. It's in progress in Scotland and it's Nicola Sturgeon rather than Nigel Farage who is the rock star politician right now. (Matthew D'Ancona calls her the "new new thing" in the Evening Standard tonight).

So with UKIP no longer a novelty, what sort of mood is Mr Farage in? I had heard he was tired and overstretched, but I sat down for half an hour with him today and he seemed perfectly calm and collected. (You can watch the encounter at 7.30pm on BBC1 or see the highlights on Newsnight later).

But I did distinctly get the impression that UKIP is striving (or even struggling) to make the leap from being a populist protest party to something more mature. At times, the party ends up being stuck between the two:

Example 1: The 2015 manifesto is far more professional than the 2010 one (famously described as "drivel" by Nigel Farage) but it is still easy to pick holes in it.

Example 2: The party has done a lot to purge what it regards as its flakiest candidates, but the media are still able to find some.

Example 3: The party is trying to soften its tone and sound less strident than it has (a point explained to me by Nigel Farage today). But old habits die hard, and it takes a long time for a tonal shift to be noticed anyway.

I had wanted the interview to focus on that issue of tone and whether UKIP is in harmony with the generous-spirited values to which many modern Britons subscribe. The perception that it isn't seems to me why more people don't support the party, even though many agree with a lot of its specific policies.

In the end it got quite prickly, but I should say that Mr Farage is an affable man, who doesn’t bear a grudge and who was quite friendly afterwards. And I'm an affable man too, who does not mind being called metropolitan or elite.

When Farage met Davis

Talking immigration in a very international temple of science

Ian Katz

Newsnight Editor

Nigel Farage and Evan Davis
BBC

When we chose the giant, whale-like Crick Institute – soon to be the biggest bio-medical research centre in Europe - to be the venue for the BBC’s leader interviews, the idea was that it was a futuristic symbol of modern Britain.

But when Nigel Farage arrived for his session with Evan Davis today, a different aspect of the £650m temple of science seemed as relevant: of the 1,200 or so construction staff who began work on it, around half came from other EU countries, 200-300 of them much-vilified Romanians.

The scientists who will begin to replace the construction workers from the end of this year will be a similarly international bunch: one of the Crick’s project managers explained to me how the most junior and most senior scientists working will come roughly equally from Britain and abroad. But the mid-ranking scientists who do most of the important work will come overwhelmingly from abroad – only around 20% will be British.

It seemed a very fitting place to discuss with Mr Farage his attitude to immigration and multiculturalism in Britain. In a vigorous conversation with Evan, he talked frankly about his preference for migrants from Australia and India over Eastern Europe- they are more likely to speak English and “have a connection with this country” - but also struck a reflective note about some of UKIP’s more strident rhetoric. It had been necessary “to wake people up” but UKIP was now concentrating on more positive messages he said.

You can watch Evan’s interview at 7.30pm on BBC1 and highlights on Newsnight at 22.30. My colleague Robin Brant has filed this report on it:

Nigel Farage has admitted that he has used a tone to attack some immigrants and Muslims in the UK which was designed to 'get noticed', but he's insisted it was necessary.

He also admitted that he struggled at the start of the election campaign because he tried to do too much. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Latest seat forecast

BBC Newsnight Index

Newsnight Index forecast for 22 April
BBC

Tonight's Newsnight Index shows a one seat gain for Labour. The Tories remain unchanged out in front with 283 seats, but nowhere near a majority. The SNP is still firmly on course to become the third biggest party.

For the course of the general election campaign, Newsnight each evening will be publishing an exclusive Newsnight Index on the likely outcome, based on a sophisticated forecast model. It is produced by 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 the 'explainer' on our YouTube page here .

The Wikipedia editor responds

The Grant Shapps case ticks on

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

Grant Shapps
PA

Earlier, I noted that the Wikipedia editor who ruled on the Grant Shapps case was a Liberal Democrat. As Laura noted earlier, Richard Symonds (a.k.a.Chase me ladies, I'm the cavalry) has decided to clarify a few things about his decisions and politics. Here's the highlights.

Responding to queries about why he was talking to the Guardian, he says:

The reporter contacted myself and several other UK Wikipedians who, historically, have answered questions for the press, and have done for many years. This is an example. Some journalists know to drop me or the others a line if they need help with how to edit, or help with understanding Wikipedia policies. The reporter from the Guardian did not suggest that I do anything: least of all investigate Grant Shapps. They were concerned that the account "Contribsx" might be involved in foul play. I looked at the edits and was also concerned, particularly with the similar behaviour to the Hackneymarsh account.

Richard SymondsWikipedian

On his verdict, he's pretty firm:

It is impossible to know who was sitting behind the keyboard of Contribsx - but given the nature of edits, I suspect that it was Mr Shapps or someone close to him. If there is a good explanation for why someone with detailed knowledge of Mr Shapps was editing in a fashion identical to the previous account he was linked to, I am sure that the owner of the Contribsx account can appeal.

Richard SymondsWikipedian

On his politics:

I have never considered myself "active" in any party, although I have been a lapsed member of the Lib Dems on and off, for probably a year in total. I certainly have never been a "leading activist" for any party - indeed I have never actually met anyone from my local party that I know of. I saw Vince Cable once at a charity event but that's the closest I've been to an MP that I know of.

Richard SymondsWikipedian

And on whether he was swayable.

I would never let my political views get in the way of my work for Wikipedia - Wikipedia is too important for politics to be involved.

Richard SymondsWikipedian

A jollier Wikipedia saga

A more high-brow sort of editing saga

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

The Grant Shapps story pales next to a much more highbrow WIkipedia tale.

Back in 2009, Gordon Brown - then prime minister - compared himself to Titian, the Venetian master, at the age of 90. An old hand, but still learning. David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, sought to score an easy point.

Titian, he said, died aged 86. Mr Cameron, however, messed up. We know when the Venetian grand master died, but not when he was born. And the usual assumption is that lived to somewhere between his late 80s and early 90s.

To save the day, a CCHQ apparatchik decided to fix the matter by editing Wikipedia. Theo Bertram, an adviser to Gordon Brown at the time, has today filled in some new details of the story.

I slipped out of the advisers' box in the Chamber and into the PM's study behind the Speaker's chair. I checked Wikipedia. We were right. I pinged the link to a colleague in the press team. If the Tories were going to attack us on Titian (how odd) we could point to Wikipedia. But by the time my colleagues had followed the link, Titian's life had been miraculously shortened.

Theo BertramFormer adviser to Gordon Brown

But rather than moving Titian's birthday backward (which is where the ambiguity is), A CCHQ fixer killed him off earlier. He went for 1572, not 1576.

Caught red-handed, Mr Cameron sort-of apologised: "that was the wrong thing to do. He shouldn't have done that, he has been disciplined for doing that." But the then-leader of the opposition added, slightly bafflingly, that he thought CCHQ had introduced "the correct information" into Wikipedia.

Here, for your enjoyment, is a painting by the master of Venice's yellow lagoon light - a 1575 Pieta, which our prime minister claims to believe the painter completed three years after he died.

Pieta, 1575
Public domain

A poster polling puzzle

@edsbrown

Ed Brown

Newsnight producer

YouGov released a poll yesterday which asked people which of the Conservatives' posters they thought would be most likely to have a positive impact on their campaign. Take a look at them and see what you think:

YouGov posters
YouGov

The results were as follows (these are percentages):

YouGov results
YouGov

So is there a campaign message here for the Tories? Perhaps that more positive posters seem to be approved of more? Let's focus on posters 3 and 4 - the anti- SNP ones. Only about 20% of respondents thought they were most likely to have a positive impact on the campaign.

Another poll was done on the topic of the SNP very recently by ComRes/ITV. The question was:

"In the event of a Hung Parliament after the election, would you like to see each of the following play a role in the next British Government or not?"

Here is the response:

Comres /ITV
Comres / ITV

Almost 60% of voters do NOT want the SNP to play in the next Government.

I would presume that this is why not an hour goes by without a Conservative politician warning of the possibility of an SNP Labour deal.

Just because voters don’t like negative posters about the SNP and Labour, it doesn’t mean they won’t work.

Wikipedia admin defends his actions over Shapps

Laura Kuenssberg

Newsnight Chief Correspondent

In this curious story that's playing out largely online, the administrator from Wikipedia who took the action to block the account he believed could have been manipulated by Grant Shapps, has gone back to the site to defend his actions. His updated site is here.

Jess Brammar, Newsnight producer

@jessbrammar

Tweets from Edinburgh

Lab activists on ground in Scot all tell us genuinely don't feel polls reflect doorstep - admit situation bad but not as dire as polls say

Of course there is always a big element of "they would say that, wouldn't they?" but we hear it consistently in off record chats

Main feeling up here amongst activists from all parties? Nobody has a clue, really. SNP lot very confident. But yeah, no one really knows

Eric's Morecambe

Katie Razzall

Newsnight Special Correspondent

I'm in Morecambe Bay, a Tory seat which Labour lost to them by 866 votes in 2010. It's a bellwether constituency, but so far I've talked more about Eric Morecambe, the town's most famous son, than about politics.

Probably not surprising as I'm with the great man's former chauffeur who's giving me a tour in Eric's Silver Shadow Rolls Royce. They didn't really talk politics in the car, he told me, but it's well known Eric was a fan of Margaret Thatcher.

All sides could do with a supporter of the stature of Eric Morecambe.

But, as his driver sees it, these days, they just don't exist.

Morecambe statue
BBC

Ian Katz, Newsnight editor

@iankatz1000

Tweets

Nigel Farage is at the Crick Institute for fourth of our #leaderinterviews. Watch on BBC1 7.30pm

Nigel Farage interviewed by Evan Davis
BBC

Graphing the use of graphs

A graphical audit

Duncan Weldon

Economics correspondent

Scrolling down today's Newsnight Live page, I've just noticed that so far today we've had no graphs. I'm afraid I can't allow that to stand. So here are two.

First, graphs featured on Newsnight Live by day since we launched last Monday. As live-blogs go, we are quite graph heavy.

A graph showing the number of graphs used each day
BBC

And second, the number of graphs by contributor.

The eagle-eyed will spot that the two used in this post have just budged me into the lead.

A graph showing the number of graphs used by different writers
BBC

Where we are with Grant Shapps and Wikipedia

What exactly do we know?

Chris Cook

Newsnight Policy Editor

Grant Shapps
BBC
Grant Shapps

Shortly after the show went off air last night, Emily spoke to Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, about the allegations in this morning’s Guardian.

Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor, wrote:

Wikipedia has blocked a user account on suspicions that it is being used by the Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps, 'or someone acting on his behalf' to edit his own page along with the entries of Tory rivals and political opponents.

The Guardian

The edits definitely happened. Alan White, over at BuzzFeed, has gone through them, and you can see why a Wikipedia editor was a bit suspicious that something fishy was going on. After prompting by the Guardian, the account was looked into and suspended.

That is all uncontested.

The plausible explanations are that:

  1. It's entirely innocent and just a coincidence.
  2. Someone who likes Mr Shapps, or has an interest in his career, did this to help.
  3. Someone who dislikes Mr Shapps, or has an interest in doing him down, did this to fit him up.

Mr Shapps has firmly denied any involvement with the changes.

He told Emily that it had been impossible for him to make the changes to Wikipedia he was accused of making at the times they happened because he was: "out and about... a simple check of the diary shows I'm in a number of different places while these edits are supposedly being made."

He added: "I would have known about it if someone in my team was involved."

Mr Shapps has his own theory: "It's on the basis of a single anonymous Wikipedia editor who's no doubt working for the Miliband team and with a Labour blogger - themselves giving the story to the Guardian - based on a load of nonsense."

The blogger in question is not hard to identify. He's no fan of Labour, but published this site about Mr Shapps. He denies involvement. If you're interested, the Wikipedia editor in question (who is actually a Liberal Democrat) published his reasoning here.

If it all sounds bizarre and far-fetched, there is a weirder precedent. Back in 2007, during the Ealing Southall by-election, a comment appeared on YouTube which, in context, would seem to come from a Liberal Democrat activist.

But it was left by Grant Shapps' official account.

Mr Shapps claimed to have been hacked, and that the comment was left in the persona of a Lib Dem in an effort to discredit him by giving the impression that he was running YouTube sock-puppets. It's all a bit bizarre.

This is not, though, the oddest recent online story.

The City's running commentary on the election

Goldman Sachs weigh in

Duncan Weldon

Economics correspondent

Over the last few days I've been providing a running commentary on the City's own running commentary on the election.

Today Goldman Sachs have weighed into the debate - warning of an equity market sell off if Labour win. It certainly makes that investors in banks, utility companies, house builders and gambling firms will have all reason to reassess their portfolios if Labour win.

But it's worth noting two things. First, that whilst there are variety of results that could unsettle financial markets, the broad consensus is that in the medium to longer term growth of the UK will unaffected by the result.

And second, that whilst many investors broadly prefer the policies of the Conservatives on a range of issues they are uncomfortable with their stance on immigration an the EU. In many ways the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has been an ideal outcome for the markets - they get the stance on the deficit they want plus market friendly politics coupled with less uncertainty on the UK's membership of the EU.

The broad sense that I get is that many City types will be happy when the election is done and dusted and uncertainity recedes. Markets can then move on from the uncomfortable game of second guessing politicians and get back to their preferred activity of second guessing central bankers.

A trader's screen showing falling stock prices
BBC

Four things to know about Lib Dem public sector pay pledge

@edsbrown

Ed Brown

Newsnight producer

Some points to bear in mind on the Lib Dems' pledge today to give public sector workers a "light at the end of the tunnel" and an end to pay restraint.

1) They are only pledging for it to keep pace with inflation from 2016. So this could just as easily be spun as "Lib Dems suggest there could be real terms freeze in public sector pay under them".

2) This may not feel like much of a rise. This is not as big a nominal pay rise as it would have been five years ago when inflation was much higher. CPI inflation right now is at 0 (ish) - Bank of England forecasts put it at between 1 and 2% in 2016.

3) Departmental budgets are fixed in nominal cash terms years ahead. So, oddly, it's actually much easier for a secretary of state to match a pay rise of 0% than one of 5% - even though the real cost should be, in theory, the same.

4) This is the Lib Dems making a grab for a large bloc of voters amongst which they used to do rather well. About 10 years ago almost a third of public sector voters used to tell pollsters they voted Lib Dems as opposed to about one in five private sector ones. That advantage declined to nothing in the run up to 2010 - and I haven't seen any recent polling to suggest that's changed. But I know their internal polling is pretty extensive - perhaps they have information to suggest a few nurses and teachers might be willing to come back into the Lib Dem fold.

Introducing the micro parties

Emily Maitlis

Newsnight Presenter

Monster Raving Loony Party
BBC

If, at this stage in the campaign you've had about as much as you can take from the mainstream parties then let me introduce you to some of the micro parties - whose names may appear on the ballot paper and whose numbers - collectively add up .

I've just picked a handful that caught my eye:

NINE: 9/11 was an inside job party.

CSA - cannabis is safer than alcohol party, fielding 32 candidates

TUSC - trade unionist and socialist coalition. They're fielding 137.

National Health Action Party - remember Richard Taylor won twice in Wyre Forest, now his party are fielding 12.

BNP- their numbers are down from 338 in 2010 to just 8 this time around.

English Democrats - they've had a mayor in power in Doncaster don't forget. They're fielding 34

MK- Mebion Kernow or literally the Sons of Cornwall. Standing six candidates.

Respect - fielding just four candidates, but George Galloway is expected to do well in Bradford.

And the Monster Raving Looney Party are fielding 16. Don't laugh at these guys, some of their (erstwhile crazy sounding) policies have actually now been adopted into law - pet passports and all day pub opening for example.

You won't see these parties on the election night scoreboard unless they win. If they do, it could be a traffic stopping moment.

Jess Brammar, Newsnight producer

@jessbrammar

Tweets from Edinburgh

Well it seems at Scottish Tories' HQ they still call themselves the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Plaque saying Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
BBC

James Clayton, Newsnight producer

@JamesClayton5

Tweets

In Derbyshire following George Osborne for the day. Watch #newsnight behind the scenes with the chancellor tonight

George Osborne speaking at event
BBC

Sock puppets and late night Newsnight

Emily Maitlis

Newsnight Presenter

Emily Maitlis and Grant Shapps
BBC

The true beauty of Newsnight is that you never know quite what's going to happen on the show. Last night, we discovered you can never be quite sure what's going to happen after it either.

A surreal moment - when a few of us were gathered in the gallery for the usual post match analysis. We suddenly became aware that Tory Chair Grant Shapps had entered the BBC studios.

Thus began a wild goose chase , up spiral staircases, through deserted newsrooms, running back to fetch a mike, running round to find someone who could work the technology - until Shapps gamely agreed to be interviewed for this site.

He told me he had never used the “Contribsx” account and had not altered the Wikipedia entries but blamed the whole story on a Labour Slur.

He also told me he had not spoken to the PM but was confident of his full support. You can see the full midnight interview here.

The SNP effect

@bbclaurak

Nicola Sturgeon
PA

Forget the momentary spin through the greatest hits of the early 90s Conservative party - what matters is whether the Tories' SNP warnings and the SNP Labour soft soaping are having an effect on voters.

A YouGov poll out suggests as many as two million voters might move to the Tories because of the "threat". Well. Some Tory MPs love it. One told me his constituents are furious about "truck loads" more cash going up the motorway to Scotland and more SNP MPs coming back down the other way. In Scotland, Labour sources report a variety of effects- some traditional Labour supporters want reassurance there won't be a deal with the SNP.

For others fears of division are real, with some voters on the doorstep saying the Conservative message is "racist" - English politicians telling Scots their representatives have less right to share power.

It is potent stuff. And that, Labour sources fear, drives more of their support into the eager arms of the SNP. I'm told that when Scottish Labour started to plan the referendum campaign in 2011 the nightmare scenario was the Tories and the SNP finding common cause - wiping out Labour in Scotland.

This was raised with the UK Labour leadership but at the time the threat wasn't considered that serious. They might wish now they'd have taken that risk a bit more seriously.