Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Nick Clegg, David Cameron and ministers hold a series of regional visits to promote Local Growth Deals
  2. Ed Miliband pledges a Labour government would bring Home Rule Bill for Scotland within 100 days of election
  3. Broadcasters reject DUP's call to be included in the TV election debates
  4. Also in the news: School league tables, Chilcot delays and BBC behind-the-scenes documentary on Parliament
  5. There are 98 days to go until the General Election on 7 May
  6. Rolling coverage from the BBC's political team - from Today through to Question Time, Newsnight and This Week
  7. Listen to Today, 5Live, The World at One, PM and Today in Parliament by selecting the 'Live Coverage' tab
  8. Watch Breakfast, the BBC News Channel, Daily Politics, BBC Parliament, Newsnight by clicking on the 'Live Coverage' tab
  9. You can see the pick of the day's output by selecting the 'Key Video' tab

Live Reporting

By Holly Wallis, Tim Fenton, Matthew Davis and Adam Donald

All times stated are UK

Good night

And that's it for another day of live updates from the political world. Labour continued to bristle at comments by former senior figures that the party's current stance on the NHS is misguided. Meanwhile, the government faced criticism inside and outside Parliament after the number of schools failing to meet government benchmarks on GCSE grades and progress doubled to 330 in the wake of changes to exams. You can catch up with all the BBC's reporting, across all platforms, online. We'll be back on Friday from 06:00 with up-to-the-minute news, views, and analysis from across the political spectrum.

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's i: "Tories fear migrant voting power" #BBCPapers #tomorrowspaperstoday (via @hendopolis)

Tomorrow's i front page
The Independent

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Independent: "Hard line on immigration could cost Tories election" #BBCPapers (via @hendopolis)

Tomorrow's Independent front page
The Independent

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Times: "Big increase in religious slaughter of animals" #BBCPapers (via @hendopolis)

Tomorrow's Times front page
The Times

Jane Merrick, political editor of the Independent on Sunday

@janemerrick23

tweets: Great defence of NHS, and chilling description of US health service, by @KateMaltby #bbcqt

Campaigning with Alex Salmond

Buzzfeed

Over at Buzzfeed, Jamie Ross

goes on the campaign trail with Alex Salmond - the self-styled "bogeyman of the British establishment", who has some stinging words for some of the main UK party leaders.

Michael Savage, chief political correspondent for The Times

@michaelsavage

tweets: Blimey. Quite an evisceration of Labour health divisions on #Newsnight. As tough as anything you'll find in the "right-wing press".

BBC Question Time

@bbcquestiontime

tweets: "If the Greeks get away with it, good luck to them is all I can say." Germaine Greer on Greece potentially defaulting on debts. #bbcqt

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

Some more on Labour's stance on the NHS. Newsnight's political editor

Allegra Stratton reports that former Labour health minister Lord Darzi has told the BBC it is irrelevant whether NHS care is delivered by the private or the public sector - comments, she says, which intensify a row within the Labour Party over outsourcing NHS care.

This Week, BBC One, 23:45

Isabel Hardman dressed as a goddess
BBC

BBC One's This Week may be all Greek to some political viewers, and the Spectator's Isabel Hardman takes on the role of a goddess to review the headlines of the Westminster week before a live studio debate with Andrew Neil, Alan Johnson, Miranda Green and Michael Portillo after 23:45.

James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

@jameschappers

tweets: Superb speech from @Ed_Miliband at #westminstercorrespondentsdinner. Another reason for Cameron to dodge those TV debates

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Mirror: "Energy fatcats profits up 1000 per cent" (via @hendopolis) #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers

Tomorrow's Mirror front page
Daily Mirror

NHS 'privatisation'?

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

Sarah Wollaston
BBC

Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP for Totnes and chairman of the Commons Health Committee, tells Newsnight that "there has been a process of weaponisation as Ed Miliband said", namely a misuse of the word privatisation. She says when she talks to people "what they fear is that privatisation means they'll have to pay for healthcare, I think that's been rather cynically manipulated by the Labour Party, because that is of course not what we're talking about - we have no intention for people to have to start paying for healthcare".

Labour's John Woodcock said that for his party, privatisation meant a "dogmatic insistence that every service is going to be taken out and put to competitive tender". Sarah Wollaston denied this was happening.

Labour NHS fall-out

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

John Woodcock
BBC

John Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, tells Newsnight - regarding Labour's plans for health spending - that "we are going to come into a very different environment where a similar amount of money which could have been spent on public services under the last Labour government is not going to be available", meaning that although the party will increase NHS spending "we have to match that with radical reform".

Mr Woodcock also urges former Labour ministers who have been publicly critical of the party's rhetoric on healthcare in the last few days - such as Alan Milburn - to "pick up the phone to Ed, or Douglas Alexander, or to Andy Burnham". Asked by Newsnight presenter James O'Brien if he was urging such figures to keep their thoughts "buttoned up", Mr Woodcock said he had been "very careful not to use those words about my friends and one of the people that I used to work for".

Allegra Stratton, BBC Newsnight political editor

@BBCAllegra

tweets: 1/ But David Blunkett appeals for calm, telling NN "now is not the time for an unproductive battle between old and new Labour"...

and

tweets: 2/ Blunkett: "This is a very different moment in time and the generation leading the Party need our advice behind the scenes".

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Express: "Gas bill rip off as we freeze" (via @hendopolis) #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCpapers

Daily Express front page tomorrow
Daily Express

Allegra Stratton, BBC Newsnight political editor

@BBCAllegra

tweets: 1/ Eminent surgeon + former Brown appointee, health minister Lord Ara Darzi tells NN Andy Burnham's "preferred provider" policy is wrong...

and

tweets: 2/ Lord Darzi: "We should prefer the providers who deliver the highest quality care whether they be public, private and not-for-profit..."

and

tweets: 3/ "If debate doesn't focus on quality of care, every patient and every clinician will know real argument about what matters has been lost"

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Guardian: "The great wages crash" (via @hendopolis) #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

Tomorrow's Guardian front page
The Guardian

Local control

The Guardian

The plaque in front of the Cabinet Office
BBC
Whitehall - the street and symbol of central government

At The Guardian,

Patrick Wintour reports on a new pamphlet by two junior Labour shadow ministers, Liz Kendall and Steve Reed, which argues that the party must embrace devolution in public service reform. "The authors frankly admit that too many public services are still not good enough and that they assume a type of parent-child relationship in which politicians and the state cast themselves as the superhero capable of solving society's problems," he says.

NHS policy

Daily Express

At the Daily Express,

Leo McKinstry has very harsh words for Labour over its healthcare policy: "In the years ahead the NHS will need serious reform including the involvement of the private sector. Such change will not be forthcoming from blinkered, doctrinaire socialists such as Miliband and Burnham."

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Telegraph: "Don't rush through three parent baby law says Church" (via @hendopolis) #tomorrowspaperstoday

Tomorrow's Telegraph front page
Daily Telegraph

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's Metro: "Eton Mess! Top schools crash in league table" (via @hendopolis) #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

Tomorrow's Metro front page
Metro

Tomorrow's papers

@BBCNews

BBC News

UK

tweets: Friday's FT: "Conoco and Shell add billions to oil sector cuts" (via @hendopolis) #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCpapers

Tomorrow's FT front page
Financial Times

Today in Parliament, 23:30

BBC Radio 4

Palace of Westminster at night
BBC

Join

the BBC's Sean Curran and the rest of the Today in Parliament team at 23:30 GMT for all the highlights from today's action in the Palace of Westminster. On the programme: MPs express frustration at delays to the Chilcot report on Iraq; Education Secretary Nicky Morgan gives a statement on extremism in schools; and during the time allotted for the business statement, one MP causes uproar with her interesting choice of phrase.

Newsnight preview

BBC Newsnight

BBC Two, 22:30

Winston Churchill's funeral
Press Association

Tonight on

@BBCNewsnight: Labour MP John Woodcock and the Conservative chair of the Commons Health Committee, Sarah Wollaston, join the programme to discuss the NHS and Labour health policy. And to commemorate the 50th anniversary tomorrow of the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, Newsnight talks to Lord Carrington - the last surviving member of the second Churchill administration.

Mark Devenport, BBC NI political editor

@markdevenport

tweets: BBC News - David Trimble says DUP may back Labour if hung parliament
http://bbc.in/15LM8jN #corr

NHS row

The Guardian

Writing in The Guardian,

Polly Toynbee says Ed Miliband didn't need to "weaponise" the NHS, because the Conservatives already did: "The Tories turned it into an armament in their programme to diminish the welfare state, to outsource and privatise it wherever they could."

A 'grand coalition'?

Ed Miliband and David Cameron
Associated Press

YouGov president Peter Kellner,

writing in Prospect Magazine, is the latest commentator to consider what kind of post-election fallout could lead to a "grand coalition" - with Labour and the Conservatives in government together.

Kitty Donaldson, Bloomberg News political reporter

@kitty_donaldson

tweets: At the Westminster correspondents' dinner. @Ed_Miliband circulating shaking hands like a bridegroom when @David_Cameron didn't

EU referendum

More from

The House Magazine's interview with Culture Secretary Sajid Javid. Of the in/out EU referendum David Cameron has promised in 2017 if the Conservatives win the election in May, Mr Javid says: "My faith is in the British people. If they decide that, taking into account the renegotiation, they want to continue that relationship with the EU, of course that's something that everyone would accept. But if they decide to end that relationship then that is not something anyone should be frightened of".

'Mistaken reticence'

The Spectator

David Cameron walking with two schoolchildren
Reuters

At The Spectator,

Dennis Sewell says the Conservatives are mistakenly reluctant to discuss "the most significant achievement of this government" - school reforms that David Cameron's party "seem almost to want to deny" in the run-up to the election.

Trust the polls?

Anthony Wells from UK Polling Report

takes a look at some of the patterns evident in different companies' regular polls. He says such patterns are not evidence of "deliberate bias", but "the effect of their methodological decisions mean some companies do have a tendency to produce figures that are better or worse for each political party - we call these 'house effects'".

Have a look at his graph showing the trends in political polling

here. And once you've become more informed about polling methods, take a look at the BBC's brand new
interactive poll tracker.

'Creative friction'

New Statesman

Robert Webb
Wall to Wall Media Ltd

Over

at the New Statesman, Robert Webb says it doesn't matter if politicians go to the same schools - as long as they listen to people who weren't there with them. He says: "It's a matter of intellectual diversity. Where you have 20 people who all share roughly the same educational and life experiences, they're going to come up with the same solutions to the same problems" - and there won't be the necessary "creative friction" that produces ideas to make society better.

Question Time, BBC One, 22:35

@bbcquestiontime

Question Time panel
BBC

BBC One's Question Time programme will be coming from Wrexham tonight. The panel includes feminist and scholar Germaine Greer, Labour former Cabinet minister Peter Hain, Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid and academic Kate Maltby.

'Raising the bar'

In an interview with Channel 4, schools minister Nick Gibb defended the government's school league tables, after steps to make exams more rigorous led to more failing schools. The tables

have been branded a "nonsense" after scores of renowned private schools ended up at the bottom for GCSEs despite dominating the top of the A-level tables. Mr Gibb said the league tables show a "transitional" period, and that all schools are affected "equally". He added that the government is "raising the bar" with its reform, saying GCSEs are now of a "much higher standard".

Liz Kendall interview

Liz Kendall
Labour Party

Also at The House Magazine,

shadow health minister Liz Kendall reveals she backs a role for the private sector in the NHS, as it provides a "challenge" to the system and helps cut waiting lists. Also in the interview: she calls for a more "positive" approach to the election, warning her party that it can't be seen as "the moaning man in the pub"; says her parents have texted her complaining about PMQs; and says it's time for a "new generation" of Labour MPs to make the case for military intervention overseas.

Sajid Javid interview

Sajid Javid
Getty Images

At The House magazine,

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has given a wide-ranging interview, taking in everything from cigarette packaging to terrorism. Some highlights: he discusses the idea that he may be Conservative leader one day; he backs the idea of a 9pm watershed on TV; and he reveals he is a big fan of Coronation Street.

Russians in the Channel

Jonathan Beale

Defence correspondent, BBC News

What proved so bothersome about the Russian jets which flew down the west coast of Ireland and up the English Channel yesterday was that their flight path was very different from their usual sorties north of Scotland, BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale explains on the News Channel. "The context is what worries - this is Russia operating outside the usual area it operates, and that causes nerves," he explains. While the Russian aircraft didn't enter British airspace, at one point they were 25 miles from the UK mainland.

Coalitions: the guidebook

Graham Allen
BBC

Most MPs are letting their attention drift away from parliament towards their constituencies, but Graham Allen - Labour chair of the political and constitutional reform committee - has set his MPs a fresh inquiry investigating "the arrangements for forming a government after a general election". Rather an important issue, really, but one which remains riddled with question-marks. Mr Allen says: "We are looking to produce the definitive guide to post-election coalition making for the elector, as well as for politicians and the media." That should come in handy.