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Summary

  1. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says four of the major parties have not provided "anything like full details" on plans to cut the deficit
  2. Labour and the Conservatives attacked on each other's economic plans ahead of the IFS report
  3. Mr Cameron has described the prospect of a Labour government propped up by the SNP as a "toxic tie-up"
  4. The Liberal Democrats launched a disability manifesto pledging a £150m support package for carers
  5. There are 14 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Kristiina Cooper, Andy McFarlane and Bernadette McCague

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Before we go...

...a quick reminder of the main stories of the day.

Four of the major parties have not provided "anything like full details" on plans to cut the deficit, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said .

  • The IFS examined proposals from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP and concluded that they left voters "in the dark"
  • The government received a pre-election boost with official figures showing it beat its target for reducing annual public sector borrowing for the latest financial year
  • But Labour accused the Tories of planning "ideological" cuts in the next Parliament
  • The SNP conceded its plan to cut the deficit "would take longer to achieve" - because it would invest in the economy.
  • David Cameron described the prospect of a Labour government propped up by the SNP as a "toxic tie-up"
  • The Liberal Democrats pledged a £150m support package for carers
  • And, on St George's Day, UKIP's Patrick O'Flynn joked that the party would have welcomed England's patron saint into the country because of his dragon-slaying skills

A manifesto for England

william hague
BBC

William Hague is also talking about the launch of the Conservatives' English manifesto tomorrow. It's the first time they have produced a manifesto - specifically - for England. He says it will set out how the party would implement "English votes for English laws".

Labour's Harriet Harman thinks the Tories are going about things "on the back of an envelope", saying it isn't up to politicians and that there should be a process to decide big constitutional matters.

SNP priority to 'end austerity'

John Swinney
BBC

Unsurprisingly, the SNP's John Swinney (Scotland's Deputy First Minister) doesn't agree with William Hague that it would be a catastrophe for the SNP to hold the balance of power. He says the SNP's top priority is to end austerity and increase public spending.

SNP success - 'a catastrophe'

The Conservative Cabinet Minister William Hague says it would be a "catastrophe" if the SNP holds the balance of power at Westminster. Speaking on BBC's Question-Time he predicts that it would try to turn Scotland against England - and England against Scotland. The SNP wants to win elections to the Scottish Parliament, he says, so it can make the case for another referendum.

The purpose of the SNP is to break up the UK."

William Hague

Coming up later

BBC1's This Week

Andrew Neil is taking his late-night programme out to meet an audience tonight. He will be joined by Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott on the sofas, while Miranda Green and Kevin Maguire are having a go at a low-budget version of Poldark as they look back over the last week in politics.

Miranda Green and Kevin Maguire filming for This Week
BBC

Also featuring are historian Andrew Roberts and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli, looking at nationalism, UKIP’s Suzanne Evans, and The Blondettes as the house band. Desktop viewers can watch on the Live Coverage tab above from 23:45 BST.

Read more about the programme

Question-time panel

Question Time is under way on BBC1 with Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, William Hague for the Conservatives, UKIP's Paul Nuttall, the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and the SNP's John Swinney.

A cold shower?

David Cowling, Editor BBC Political Research has been assessing four polls "sampled amidst the shot and shell of the Conservative campaign to tag Labour as SNP dupes". He says:

  • The day began with YouGov’s one point Labour lead (34% versus 33% for the Conservatives).
  • Survation arrived in the afternoon with a four-point Conservative lead over Labour who they put on 29%, the party’s lowest rating in the campaign so far.
  • In the early evening, Panelbase published their three-point Labour lead (34% versus 31%)
  • ComRes appeared last of all with a four-point Conservative lead – Conservative 36%, Labour 32%.

Survation and Panelbase both registered the highest UKIP ratings for some days, 18% and 17% respectively. Intriguingly, the ComRes four-point Conservative lead accompanied their UKIP support at 10%, whereas Survation’s same Conservative lead sat alongside their UKIP rating of 18%.

Just as the excitement was becoming almost unbearable, up popped a Survation poll in the Thanet South constituency suggesting Nigel Farage had a nine-point lead over the Conservatives (39% versus 30%). Sometimes a cold shower is the only cure."

David Cowling

Tomorrow's Guardian

Guardian front page
Guardian

Tomorrow's i

i front page
Independent

Tomorrow's Daily Telegraph

Telegraph front page
Daily Telegraph

Tomorrow's Financial Times

Financial times front page
Financial TImes

Mirror poll

Here's the Daily Mirror's take on its Survation poll, which shows Labour dropping four points to 29% .

Polls apart

Sophy Ridge, Sky News

Survation poll gives Conservatives 4pt lead. Earlier poll gives Labour 3pt lead. What does it mean? Election is incredibly close. #GE2015

Poll puts Labour under 30%

A Survation poll for the Daily Mirror puts Labour on 29%. The Conservatives are down one point to 33% while the Liberal Democrats are up three to 10%. Ukip is up one point to 18% while the SNP and Greens are both unchanged on 4%.

Mandelson's expectations

Channel 4

Lord Mandelson says Ed Miliband has "way exceeded my expectations".

The former Labour strategy chief and cabinet minister told Channel 4 News: "Miliband has moved forwards. He gained credibility.

"He's exceeded most people's expectations. I suppose in a sense mine as well."

SNP would 'prop up' Labour, 'even with fewer seats than Tories'

Laura Kuenssberg

Newsnight Chief Correspondent

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has told BBC Newsnight she would prop up a Labour government - even if the Conservatives were the largest party by up to 40 seats.

Asked if she would prop up a Labour administration if the party was "10, 20, 30, 40 seats" worse off, Ms Sturgeon replied: "If there was an anti-Tory majority, yes we would offer to work with Labour to stop the Tories getting back into Downing Street."

See the full interview on BBC2 at 22.30 BST.

SNP 'no friend of the Labour Party'

Gordon Brown says the SNP doesn't want a Labour government and would prefer an "unsuccessful Tory government". In a rousing speech in Kirkcaldy (his former constituency) the ex-prime minister says the SNP hopes the English will vote Green, the Welsh for Plaid Cymru and the Scots for the SNP.

He asks: "When has Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon or any SNP MP advocated a vote for the Labour Party?"

He adds:

They only succeed when there's an unsuccessful Tory government."

Gordon Brown

No campaign cobblers here

Andrew Neil

Daily and Sunday Politics

The Daily Politics is touring the UK talking to voters at 18 locations and asking for their views on the general election - and Thursday's stop was in Northamptonshire. Reporter Giles Dilnot spoke to shoemakers Steve Flint, Brian Baddock and John Essam about what could make them cast their ballot in a particular way. Watch the film

Giles with shoemakers in Northamptonshire
BBC

Gordon Brown

Former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown is speaking in Kirkcaldy. He says it's a "scandal" that so many families are unable to meet their basic needs, "as a result of punitive decisions that have been made by governments".

Gordon Brown
BBC

Another ex-PM speaks out

Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent tweets:

Blair, check. Major, check. Now...Brown...speaking in Kirkcaldy. #ge2015

Tough, wiser, smarter

Not the name of a self-help book but Nick Clegg's view on how he has changed since entering government in 2010. Speaking to Channel 5 News, the Lib Dem leader revealed he was "tough, wiser, smarter" but also humble enough to learn from the mistakes he'd made. And he still had bags of energy", he said, to carry on.

Mr Clegg was also asked why we never see his children. He said he'd "love to show them off", as he was proud of them, but he wanted them to have the innocence of other children and not be made to feel any different.

Doing the Labour-SNP maths

BBC Radio 4

A Miliband-SNP pact would cost families £350 each...that was a report on the front page of today's Telegraph, based on an interview with the Chancellor George Osborne. Ruth Alexander, from More or Less, has been examining the maths behind the story for Radio 4's PM.

The chancellor has added up the Treasury costings of extra borrowing - pledged by the SNP - over four years and come up with £148bn. Extra borrowing means higher debt interest payments. Ruth says the chancellor has added up those extra payments the Treasury says the SNP plans might generate and got "a nice big number" of about £6bn over four years. Next, he divided that not by the number of people in the UK but by a much smaller number - the number of working households "to get himself a nice big final number - £350 for every working household".

Ruth took the chancellor's own numbers to tell a different story. She took the estimated £148bn of extra borrowing and divided it by the number of working households. That means £8,500 more per household on public spending.

Get involved

Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

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Have your say

Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

Helen Hughes, mother of two ex-students:

Cameron campaign: behind the scenes

Campaigner
BBC

The BBC's Carole Walker has been following David Cameron's election campaign around the country. Today, she takes us behind the scenes at one of the prime minister's stop-offs in Penzanze, Cornwall.

Get involved

Text: 61124

Politics Live viewer:

Too many young people are being encouraged to go to university. Apprenticeships in skills are more appropriate for the middle and lower percentiles of intelligence otherwise the degree obtained is of doubtful value to both recipient and society as a whole.

Building bridges with business?

Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent for the Financial Times tweets

I asked Chuka Ummuna: TonyBlairAssociates - predator or producer? “I’m not in the business of labelling any business" ft.com/cms/s/0/2829e5…

Does England need its own Parliament?

Andrew Neil

Daily and Sunday Politics

The chairman of the English Democrats says UKIP's manifesto has "no mention of England or English in it" as he pushes his party's manifesto on St George's Day. Robin Tilbrook told the BBC's Daily Politics the fundamental issue for his party was "what happens to the English nation", which UKIP does not cover. The English Democrats are campaigning for an English Parliament and, ultimately, for an independent England. Watch the interview

Chairman of the English Democrats Robin Tilbrook
BBC

Turning election leaflets into history...

Wondering what to do with all those election leaflets that keep popping through the letterbox After you've read them of course. Well, before they go in the bin or recycling box, take a photo. And send them to an organisation called electionleaflets.org . They're keen to analyse them and keep them for posterity. At the moment, they've got 2,000 in the archive but they've got a target of 10,000.

Was St George a skilled migrant?

Michael Deacon, Political sketch writer, Telegraph tweets

Asked Farage whether he would classify St George as a skilled migrant. "I think there's always room in the British workforce for heroes"

Much tweet-twoo about nothing?

UKIP candidate Mark Reckless (left) and Labour candidate Stella Creasy
Getty/Reuters

Another day, another political spat on Twitter. Today's row between UKIP's Mark Reckless and Stella Creasy was over an image retweeted by the Labour candidate that showed an X next to her name on a constituent's postal ballot.

You've broken the law, declared Mr Reckless. Er, no, responded Ms Creasy.

Who was right? Well the Electoral Commission told reporters that photos of postal ballots are treated differently to images taken inside polling booths, adding: "A postal voter may take a picture of their own postal ballot paper and publicise it."

Despite this, the police apparently told Mr Reckless that "an offence may have been committed" but no action would be taken as the Twitter user had now set his account to private. Time to clarify the law?

The only poll that matters?

Jane Merrick, Political Editor of @indyonsunday tweets

@kevin_maguire @bbcthisweek @greenmiranda the only poll that matters is the Pol on Poldark

What is the Institute for Fiscal Studies?

As the IFS delivers another withering verdict on the main parties' deficit reduction plans - that they leave voters "in the dark" - Nick Higham (for the BBC's Reality Check) has been looking at the organisation that crunches the numbers.

Nick HIgham
BBC

The IFS was founded in 1969 with the aim of informing public debate about economics and has a team of around 40 full-time research economists. It's funded mainly through academic grants but also gets money from the EU, charities and government departments.

However, Higham points out: "Its own finances are actually rather precarious."

One measure of how trusted it is could be the rarity with which it's attacked."

Attacking the messenger?

Lord Ashcroft, former Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party tweets

Every poll the LibDems don't like they attack the messenger or the methodology. They are the #comfortpolling masters...

Your questions for Leanne Wood

BBC News Channel

Leanne Wood
Reuters

Coming up at 17:30 BST on the BBC News Channel, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood will be taking viewers' questions on the party's policies.

You can tweet questions to at #BBCAskThis -- or you can email video questions to YourPics@bbc.co.uk.

No time to pray?

Ben Riley-Smith, Political Correspondent, Daily Telegraph tweets

Nick Clegg has indicated he has not prayed since becoming Deputy Prime Minister.

But adds his "mind is open" to God. "It is not something that has visited itself upon me".

Labour 'inadequate' on immigration

While Ed Miliband plans a 100-strong taskforce to combat gangmasters who exploit migrant workers, senior Labour MP Frank Field reckons the pledge doesn't go far enough.

He tells Buzzfeed: "I thought it was inadequate what he said - setting up 100 people to deal with some of the abuses in immigration when we shouldn't actually have unrestricted immigration in the first place."

Frank Field
PA

Mr Field criticises all parties for a lack of honesty about NHS costs and wonders "what are we so frightened of?"

However, he praises Mr Miliband's overall performance.

He's improved morale of those who are trying to deliver leaflets and knock on doors but also I think of Labour voters."

DJ Mike Reid is UKIP quizmaster

John Stevens, Daily Mail political reporter tweets

DJ Mike Read's arrived at Farage St George's Day do in Ramsgate... He tells me he won't be performing Ukip Calypso Part II but hosting quiz

Recap

A quick recap of the day's major stories, as your early team of Aiden James and Matthew West prepare to hand over to the late team.

  • Four of the major parties have not provided "anything like full details" on plans to cut the deficit, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said
  • The IFS examined proposals from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and the SNP
  • The government received a pre-election boost with official figures showing it beat its target for reducing annual public sector borrowing for the latest financial year
  • But Labour accused the Tories of planning "ideological" cuts in the next Parliament
  • The SNP conceded its plan to cut the deficit "would take longer to achieve" - because it would invest in the economy.
  • David Cameron described the prospect of a Labour government propped up by the SNP as a "toxic tie-up" - a day after his Labour predecessor Gordon Brown accused the current PM of stoking English nationalism
  • The Liberal Democrats pledged a £150m support package for carers
  • And, on St George's Day, UKIP's Patrick O'Flynn joked that the party would have welcomed England's patron saint into the country because of his dragon-slaying skills