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Summary

  1. Five party representatives from Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens have taken part in a debate on welfare
  2. Ed Miliband says he does not believe Labour will borrow more money than the Conservatives plan to, if he wins the election
  3. David Cameron insists he will put the country first if he fails to win an outright majority
  4. Nick Clegg says an EU referendum is not a coalition "red line" for the Lib Dems
  5. The SNP suspends two party members after a scuffle yesterday at a Labour rally in Glasgow
  6. There are two days left until the general election

Live Reporting

By Bernadette McCague, Marie Jackson and Jenny Matthews

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Tuesday round-up

So, we are shutting up shop for the night but before we go, let's remind ourselves of some of the day's biggest news:

- David Cameron said he would 'put the country first' if he failed to win an outright majority

- Ed Miliband said he did not accept an Institute for Fiscal Studies assessment that debt would be £90bn higher in 2019-20 under his plans than under the Conservatives' if he won the election.

- Nick Clegg said an EU referendum was not a coalition "red line" for the Lib Dems - and warned of the risk of a second election before Christmas if parties tried to go it alone as a minority government

- UKIP candidate Robert Blay was suspended after being filmed apparently threatening to shoot a Conservative rival while another of the party's candidates apologised for offensive remarks about a female journalist

- The SNP suspended two members of their party following scuffles at a rally held by the Scottish Labour leader in Glasgow

- The Green Party urged voters to "send a message" on climate change

- Lucy Powell, the vice-chair of Labour's general election campaign, denied suggesting Ed Miliband could break his election pledges.

- The Democratic Unionist Party said a commission on the union would be a "red line" in any post-election negotiations

- Footage has surfaced of Ed Miliband when he was known as Ted Miliband

Ed Miliband
ITV Meridian
Ted Miliband

My learned colleagues will be back with you tomorrow from 06:00. We promise to do our best to avoid starting every sentence with: "Less than 24 hours to go..." So with just over 24 hours to go, goodnight!

Mystery solved

Some clarification for Newsnight viewers wondering who the four pints behind UKIP's Mark Reckless were for:

For the avoidance of doubt @BBCNewsnight Thurrock interview: mine was the OJ and the four pints were ordered by hotel staff finishing shift!

Down the pub

Independent on Sunday political editor

I love the fact that it's only Tuesday night but #newsnight are broadcasting from pubs like it's the start of a 72-hour election-througher

Reckless apologises

BBC Newsnight presenter

Reckless also apologises for Robert Blay, insists UKIP has tried as hard as possible to vet candidates

Number 10

10 Downing Street
BBC
Who's going to walk through that door? The wait is almost over.

Unscripted arguments and elephants in the room

Newsnight

An interesting discussion has gone on on Newsnight. Labour peer Baroness Morgan says she thinks party leaders have handled the media well and come out pretty unscathed. But she feels the campaign has lacked drama, leaving a lot of people feeling disconnected. Conservative peer Lord Finkelstein defends David Cameron's reluctance to engage in unscripted arguments with members of the public. He has a lot to do - to be professional, get his message across and not drop the ball, he says. Independent editor Amol Rajan says the first past the post system is an issue that will need looking at. Lord Finkelstein says, though, the real elephant in the room will be having "nearly 50 separatist MPs" in Westminster after the election, referring to the SNP's expected success.

Independent front page

INDEPENDENT: Post election 'shambles' looms as legitimacy crisis worsens #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

INDEPENDENT: Post election 'shambles' looms as legitimacy crisis worsens #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

'Not embarrassed at all'

Newsnight

Emma Reynolds
Screen grab

Evan Davis does his best to get straight answers out of his Newsnight guests. Labour shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds is pressed on whether she would be embarrassed if a smaller party were to become the governing party. "Not embarrassed at all," she finally says.

Late swing

BBC Newsnight has started on BBC2.

Newsnight is all over the place tonight- in a good way. We're up and down the country looking for that late swing #GE2015

Second general election speculation

James Landale

Deputy political editor

Underneath all the frantic last-minute campaigning and spinning is a strain of uncertainty pervading the parties, says James Landale.

Normally they sort of sense which way the wind is blowing - the voters want change or the voters want more of the same. This time, I think, the politicians, the pollsters and the media are struggling to read the election. That's why there is so much focus on what happens if there's an uncertain result. As such, Thursday might not be the end of the process. It might just be the calling of the half-time whistle. Not only could we see a long process of protracted negotiation between the parties if none of them win outright, but also Nick Clegg has raised the speculation that there could even be a second general election this year. That will concentrate one or two minds.

The Guardian

GUARDIAN: Revealed - hitlist of welfare cuts facing next Chancellor #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

GUARDIAN: Revealed - hitlist of welfare cuts facing next Chancellor #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

The Scotsman

THE SCOTSMAN: Leaders target Scotland in final push for votes #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

THE SCOTSMAN: Leaders target Scotland in final push for votes #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

Tomorrow's Financial Times

FINANCIAL TIMES: Party leaders scramble to line up durable coalition deals #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

FINANCIAL TIMES: Party leaders scramble to line up durable coalition deals #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

The usual, please

Chancellor George Osborne
Reuters
Chancellor George Osborne is also in the Midlands, pulling a pint at the Hutt pub near Nottingham.

Hospital visit

Labour candidate Catherine Atkinson and Ed Miliband
PA
Ed Miliband accompanies Labour candidate for Erewash Derbyshire Catherine Atkinson on a visit to Ilkeston Hospital in Derbyshire
Raymond Pounder and Ed Miliband
PA
On the visit, Mr Miliband chats to 78-year-old Raymond Pounder

Closing speeches

A lot of talk about changing the political landscape in the leaders' closing speeches. Mike Nesbitt of the UUP urges people to vote for "hope" on Thursday. "We don't have to jump into a virtual blender and all come out the human form of beige," he assures them. Naomi Long, of Alliance, says she believes Northern Ireland needs a "shared and inclusive future". Martin McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, warns people against voting for a party "that is sleepwalking us out of the (European) Union". The SDLP's Mark Durkan stresses the importance of protecting public services against future privatisation. Nigel Dodds, of the DUP, says his party is not allied to Labour or the Conservatives, and would do the best deal for "you, your family and your community".

Ted Miliband

Ed Miliband in 1991
ITV Meridian

Footage has surfaced of Ed Miliband when he was known as Ted Miliband and involved in one of his first political struggles, leading a rent strike on behalf of Oxford students in the spring of 1991. ITV News Meridian dug out the archive clip of a youthful grey-jumpered Mr Miliband speaking against a 27% proposed rise, telling an interviewer: "People wouldn't get angry if it wasn't unaffordable, and it clearly is an unaffordable rise."

Tribal politics?

After an impassioned debate among leaders about the SNP, audience members respond. One says he's more interested in Northern Ireland's place in the EU than in the UK, another complains all he has heard is tribal politics. "It's so disappointing," he says. Another says there should be a referendum on independence, while a fourth says that's not the issue - it's a distraction from the more important issues of jobs, health and education.

A referendum on same-sex marriage

Martin McGuinness
BBC

Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein) suggests a referendum in Northern Ireland on whether same-sex marriage should be legalised. Northern Ireland is exempt from legislation passed in Westminster permitting gay marriage. The DUP and UUP have blocked such a law in a series of votes in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Speaking at the NI leaders' debate, the UUP leader Mike Nesbitt says he was brought up to believe that marriage is "between a man and woman" while the DUP's Nigel Dodds says his party doesn't believe in the "redefinition of marriage".

Martin McGuinness says he has a way of getting the two parties "off the hook".

Put it to a referendum, let the people decide."

UKIP hopeful suspended over threat

A UKIP candidate has been suspended after being filmed apparently threatening to shoot a Conservative rival if he ever became prime minister.

Robert Blay, who is standing in North East Hampshire, was secretly filmed by the Daily Mirror making the comments about Ranil Jayawardena.

Read more here.

Tackle 'poor mental health' in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland parties are laying out their red lines on working with other parties at Westminster if there's a hung parliament. Naomi Long (Alliance) says her support will be reliant on "how much of our manifesto we can deliver". But she adds that no-one should take her party's support "for granted". Mike Nesbitt (UUP) would seek more support to tackle what he called "poor mental health and wellbeing" in the country. But Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness says the parties are indulging in "a lot of wishful thinking" about their potential role as kingmakers. Sinn Fein has a policy of not taking up its seats in the House of Commons.

Role in post-election coalition?

northern ireland leaders' debate
BBC

The debate in Northern Ireland kicks off with a discussion on what role the parties in Northern Ireland might play in any coalition talks after the general election. Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP, says his party can play a "real role" and would be acting "in the best interests" of Northern Ireland. Mark Durkan, former SDLP leader, says his party will play "no part in putting the Tories in power".

The Northern Ireland leaders' debate

The Northern Ireland leaders' debate is now underway - although there is only one party leader present. The BBC TV debate features representatives from Northern Ireland's five biggest parties. The panel includes Nigel Dodds (DUP deputy leader); Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein); Mike Nesbitt (UUP); Mark Durkan (SDLP); and Naomi Long (Alliance).

Jon Stewart on the election...

Comedy Central
Jon Stewart

The host of the US's Daily Show, Jon Stewart, has been sharing his thoughts on the election. Speaking to Channel 4 News, he complimented David Cameron and Ed Miliband on not representing themselves as "Churchillian or charismatic". It is smart, he said, to lower the public's expectations. He said that Americans admired the UK because it didn't spend too much money on elections. He was complimentary about the British media too, calling news programmes "sober" and "clear-minded". But the compliments came with a sting in the tail. For all these institutions, he said, Britain still made the "same stupid decisions".

How to value the mansion tax?

Daily Mail political correspondent

Chuka Umunna doesn't answer what valuations the mansion tax will be based on. I predict Labour will announce Foxtons as valuers @lbc.

UKIP candidate apologises over remarks

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
BBC
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says she gives the apology no credence at all

A UKIP parliamentary candidate has "apologised unreservedly" for posting offensive remarks about female journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on an online forum.

John Leathley used sexually-suggestive language about the British Muslim journalist during her appearance on Question Time in November last year.

"I am very sorry and regret deeply being so coarse, it is out of character but no more excusable for that," he said.

Speaking to the Mirror Online, Ms Alibhai-Brown said: "If this is what people who go into public life are going to be like then God help us. I saw the apology and of course I'm not going to give any credence to it at all."

A big fight for the blue team

David Cameron has denied suggestions that Boris Johnson has been underused in the campaign. He was asked about the involvement of the London mayor when the two men appeared together at an event in Hendon.

Mr Cameron said: "Boris has been helping in the most positive way possible. You can see today. People always long to write that there is some kind of dreadful competition... there is not actually, we work very closely together and he gives me great support."

He was also asked whether he and Samantha had warned their children they may need to move out of Downing Street, He replied: "They know that this is a close election, they know that Daddy is in a big fight for the Blue team, but we will deal with consequences when the consequences have to be dealt with."

Donors give parties £1.6m

Donations to the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens in week four (27 April to 3 May) of the election campaign topped £1.6m, according to the Electoral Commission. This is how they broke down:

- Conservatives: £1,368,450 (including £20,000 from the Duke of Bedford, whose family seat is Woburn Abbey)

- Labour: £131,242 (a little over £48,000 came in two donations from trade unions, the rest coming in four donations from individuals)

- Liberal Democrats: £89,000

- UKIP: £7,896 (one single donation from Bown Properties Ltd, an estate management company based in Kent)

- Green: £10,000 (a single donation from Roger Manser, founder of the steel newsletter, Steel Business Briefing)

Newsnight seat forecast

Newsnight seat forecast
BBC

The Tories, still well short of a majority, have extended their lead by one seat over the long weekend. Labour are down three, and the SNP - having surged past the 50 mark for the first time last week - have added another two seats.

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 Dr 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.

'Perfect storm'

BBC News Channel

Torcuil Crichton
Screen grab

Torcuil Crichton, Westminster editor of the Daily Record, is explaining the SNP's popularity to the BBC's Ben Brown.

"It's a perfect storm of anti-austerity, anti-politics, the whiplash back from the referendum when people voted with their heads against the economics of independence but in their hearts now feel patriotic Scots."

Protesters 'crossed the line' - Sturgeon

BBC News Channel

Of the SNP members suspended after disrupting a protest in Glasgow, party leader Nicola Sturgeon said they "crossed the line".

"We have today suspended two members - I should say two out of our 110,000 members - who were involved in a protest that I think crossed the line yesterday in Glasgow," she says.

"We will condemn, we will take action where that is appropriate because I will never ever condone action that I think falls short of the democratic standards we should all expect."

Ms Sturgeon says all politicians should be able to take their case to the public without abuse.

Snip, snip

Radio presenter

.@tonylivesey's had a haircut in North Warwickshire - the final stop on @bbc5live’s tour of 20 marginal #GE2015 seats

.@tonylivesey's had a haircut in North Warwickshire - the final stop on @bbc5live’s tour of 20 marginal #GE2015 seats

Miliband in Bedworth

Ed Miliband
PA
Friendly faces greet Ed Miliband as he arrives at the Mayor's Cafe in Bedworth, Warwickshire
Justine Thornton
PA
He was accompanied by his wife, Justine Thornton