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  1. Danny Alexander announces a Lib Dem plan to introduce a new offence for firms that fail to act to prevent economic crime following the recent HSBC tax row
  2. Ed Miliband says he's brought Lord Prescott back as a climate change adviser because he "knows how to knock heads together".
  3. Labour MP Austin Mitchell dismisses claims he said the party could retain the seat at the election even if its candidate was an "alcoholic" or "paedophile".
  4. Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP should be included in pre-election talks with the civil service in Whitehall.
  5. Rolling coverage of the day's political news, views and reaction from the BBC
  6. There are 74 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Victoria King and Sarah Weaver

All times stated are UK

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Bye for now

Well, that's all for today. Thank you for joining us. We've seen a proposal from the Lib Dems for a new law against corporate tax evasion and a slightly surreal row about Labour MP Austin Mitchell and the "raving alcoholic sex paedophile" whom he suggests could succeed him as MP. UKIP's Nigel Farage also popped up to condemn his party's ex-councillor Rozanne Duncan for racism and to lend some support to Ed Miliband, whom he thinks gets an unfair ride from the press. Victoria King and Dominic Howell will be back from 06:00 GMT on Monday as Parliament returns from recess. We'll take you all the way from Breakfast and Today to Newsnight and Today in Parliament, so do come back then.

Fasial Islam, Political Editor, Sky News


tweeted a YouGov survey of UKIP voters, which found just under half described themselves as "not prejudiced at all" against other races, versus 42% who said they were "a little prejudiced". Two thirds (64%) said they did not "have any views that are racist".

Tory win would 'suit' SNP

The Guardian

Andrew Rawnsley

In his

Observer column, Andrew Rawnsley argues that the SNP leadership - albeit privately - would prefer an overall Tory majority as the fastest route to Scottish independence. And all talk of a "progressive alliance" with Labour is actually designed to hand the election to the Conservatives.

He said: "Though they'd never admit this, it suits the nationalists' central ambition for the Tories to do well. It equally suits the short-term electoral interests of the Tories, if not the long-term health of the union that Mr Cameron claims to care so much about, if the nationalists rob Labour of a lot of its seats north of the border."

He added: "What a mighty irony it would be if voting SNP were to put David Cameron back in Downing Street."

Guardian Politics

Tweets: Spot the difference? Are the Tories taking lessons from the 2004 Australian election

BBC Newsnight

Tweets: Our most popular video last week was @RichardDawkins on Palestine, Jews, Science and the Burqa.
Watch it here

Digby Jones: Labour must 'pay tribute' to business

The Daily Mail

Lord Digby Jones

The relationship between Labour and business has been much debated in recent days. Lord Digby Jones, former head of the CBI, uses his column in

today's Daily Mail to urge Ed Miliband to voice support for business.

He welcomes the recent slew of positive economic data but doesn't credit George Osborne, calling the chancellor "plain lucky". Although he served as trade minister in Gordon Brown's government, the cross-bench peer writes from a non-partisan perspective and reserves his worst criticism for Labour, writing: "On the economy, Miliband and his team have called it wrong time and time again," adding: "I'm still waiting to hear Ed Miliband pay tribute to business."

Tory Miliband attack ads 'bullying'

The Daily Telegraph

In today's

Sunday Telegraph, columnist Janet Daley criticises the Tory election strategy of using social media to target Ed Miliband - but the piece will make cold comfort for the Labour leader, as she also argues Mr Miliband is too soft a target.

She writes: "When they [the Tories] ridicule Ed Miliband personally, they are in danger of looking like smirking public schoolboys making fun of the geeky scholarship kid. Ed's very hopelessness works against them. Trying to make an effective politician look idiotic might have some point, but making one who already looks foolish seem even more comically inept is just gross."

Sleeping on the job

Tuesday's pick is probably health questions from 11.30 GMT, while Wednesday sees the return of Prime Minister's Questions after the half-term recess. Looking further ahead to Thursday and Friday, we're expecting a lot of time to be devoted to private members bills. Among those hoping for a moment in the sun is Labour MP Thomas Docherty - who was seen sleeping overnight in the Public Bill Office in order to win this debating time, in the recent BBC documentary Inside the Commons.

Monday matters

Elsewhere in Parliament on Monday, the Serious Crime Bill is back in the Commons for further debate. Among the important amendments on offer is one from Conservative Fiona Bruce which would outlaw sex-selective abortions. For their part, the Lords will be picking over the Modern Slavery Bill.

Clegg on crime

Tomorrow we'll be getting a big speech from Nick Clegg on crime and justice, in particular his plans to reverse the seemingly inexorable rise in the prison population. Earlier, Lib Dem Justice Minister Simon Hughes told Sky's Murnaghan programme the number of inmates had doubled in 20 years. "I cant believe that we are twice as dangerous, twice as evil, a society as 20 years ago. There's something else going on." Women, recreational drug users and those with mental health problems are some of the groups Mr Hughes went on to suggest very often didn't need incarceration.

Looking forward

As things have quietened down a bit here, let's see if we can get you ahead of the game on some things coming up in the next few days.

Mark D'Arcy has done it in depth here, but we'll cherry pick a few things from his comprehensive run-down.

McBride: Election impossible to predict

The Sun

Damian McBride

In today's Sun on Sunday, former Labour spin doctor Damian McBride imagines how the country will look under an Ed Miliband government.

McBride - who, despite sharing Brownite history with Miliband, is frequently critical of the Labour leader - identifies the economy and education as the thorniest issues in the Labour leader's potential in-tray, but is supportive of the party's approach to the NHS.

He parks himself firmly on the fence in predicting an election result, writing: "Only one thing is certain: there will always be something to talk about and we'll all look forward to the holidays."

Mitchell slip-up

Robin Brant

Political Correspondent, BBC News

Austin Mitchell's comments may not seem particularly significant, but they touch on a bigger issue for Labour. This kind of off-the-cuff, off message talk is only going to assist those on the UKIP side who are knocking on doors and telling people in north Lincolnshire that Labour is taking them for granted. This is exactly the kind of slip-up that will really suit them.

Kick in the teeth for Miliband

Daily Express

LBC's Nick Ferrari rakes over Ant and Dec's criticism of Ed Miliband in

his column in today's Sunday Express.

Of the TV presenting duo, who are self-professedly "staunchly Labour", reflecting earlier this week that they couldn't picture Mr Miliband as prime minister Ferrari writes: "This is as big a kick in his impressive set of gnashers as there could be."

He concludes: "Remember when Labour used to be cool Britannia? Now it's more Wallace and Forget it."

Marr in full

We brought you plenty of snippets from the Andrew Marr show this morning, but if you'd like to watch the big interviews back in full, here are

Danny Alexander and
William Hague.

SNP 'dishonest' over Trident

BBC Radio 4

This morning Danny Alexander threw the issue of new laws against tax evasion into the mix for any future coalition negotiations. A short while later, the SNP's Angus Robertson said his party "would not support the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system" if it was a policy of a possible coalition partner. In response to that, Labour shadow defence minister Kevan Jones called the SNP's position "dishonest". He told The World This Weekend the nationalists advocated Scotland - and the wider UK - remain a part of Nato, and "Nato is a nuclear alliance".

Crematorium selfie

Josh Mason's 'selfie' at the crematorium
Political Scrapbook

A Liberal Democrat candidate

has apologised for taking a selfie in front of a crematorium furnace and posting it to a dating app. Josh Mason expressed "deep regret" for his actions.

Kyoto record

John Prescott, campaigning in 2001

Back in 1997, Lord - then just regular John - Prescott was the EU's lead negotiator on the Kyoto Protocol, which for the first time, committed signatory countries to binding agreements on reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. He said the part he played was "one of my proudest moments". His appointment by Ed Miliband comes ahead of crucial United Nations talks in Paris on climate change at the end of the year.

Prescott back in play

Lord Prescott himself

has written in today's Sunday Mirror about his new job as Ed Miliband's climate change adviser. "My brief is to engage heads of state and governments, to raise their ambition," he says. "But as well as advising Ed I'm also prepared to work with the current UK government. This should be above politics - we need to work together." site branded a "total nightmare"

The official site comes in for trenchant criticism.

The Register has seen internal documents warning officials that the Cabinet Office scheme to move all government websites to the platform had caused "chaos" in the Home Office visas pages. It led to "a breakdown in fact-checking, described by more than one person as 'general chaos' and 'a total nightmare'."

Despite warnings about workability, the Cabinet Office ploughed ahead, moving a further 300 sites to the portal with, as

Newsnight's Chris Cook reported, mixed results.

The idea was supposed to save £91 million.

SNP election demands

We mentioned a while ago now demands from the SNP to be included in pre-election talks with civil servants alongside other Westminster opposition parties. Our colleagues in Scotland have written up

the full story.

Rail renationalisation 'not the answer'

Travellers at Paddington Station

Now for something completely different. Calls by Labour to renationalise sections of the railways have been dismissed by a transport expert.

Professor of transport at the University of South Wales Stuart Cole has

told BBC Radio Wales that while the "franchise system has not been performing" a public sector approach is not the answer.

He was reacting to a recent

New Statesman interview with shadow transport minister Michael Dugher MP, when he said "the public sector will be running sections of our rail network as soon as we can do that."

Islamic State 'romantic' appeal

BBC Radio 4

MI6 former head of counter terrorism Richard Barrett told The World This Weekend that the attraction of Islamic State to young women was not terrorism but social factors.

He said: "The appeal to young women to go over to the Islamic State, I doubt, is to train to come back and blow up their families in the United Kingdom. I'm sure it's much more to do with some sort of romantic notion of what life over there might be like."

Coming up

The World This Weekend is starting soon on Radio 4 - at 13:00 GMT. As ever, you can listen through our Live Coverage tab.

Gillian Duffy backs Miliband

The Guardian

The Observer is reporting that Gillian Duffy - the pensioner Gordon Brown labelled a "bigoted woman" when she voiced concerns over immigration during the 2010 election campaign - has come out in support of Ed Miliband.

Mrs Duffy

reportedly previously criticised Ed Miliband for being a "privileged" career politician in contrast to Nigel Farage, who liked a pint like "working class people". But, it seems, Mrs Duffy has come back round to her party. She said: "I'm 100% behind Ed Miliband and we have to get rid of this coalition government. It is how I have been brought up. I just want to get rid of this Tory government."

Lunchtime round up

A quick recap on what we've been up to this morning:

Danny Alexander

announced a new Lib Dem idea of a tougher penalty for firms who turn a blind eye to tax evasion. Labour were unimpressed.

Nigel Farage has

reiterated his condemnation of a former UKIP councillor, kicked out for racist remarks.

Labour's Austin Mitchell MP

is involved in a bit of a row after saying a "raving alcoholic sex paedophile" could get elected in his Grimbsy seat if they wore a Labour badge.

Various MPs have also been doing the rounds discussing the Ukraine crisis, radicalisation among young people and possible future coalition machinations.

Labour tax reaction

Labour has

tweeted its statement in response to today's announcement by Danny Alexander of his plans for new penalties for corporate tax evasion.

Chris Leslie MP, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "The amount of uncollected tax has gone up by £3 billion under Danny Alexander and George Osborne. This government has refused to close loopholes which Labour has highlighted. And ministers still need to explain why there has been just one prosecution out of 1,100 names in the HSBC case and why the head of the bank was made a Tory minister."

Grimsby row 'shot in the arm' for UKIP

Nigel Farage has reacted gleefully to Austin Mitchell's comments - covered here earlier - that Grimsby would elect a "raving alcoholic sex paedophile" if they stood for Labour saying the remarks have "just given UKIP a massive shot in the arm".

He told the BBC: "I've always been a fan of Austin Mitchell. He's one of those back-bench MPs who speaks his mind and on the big questions about democracy and Britain's relationship with the European Union. I would say, as a Ukipper, to Austin: 'You're one of us.'"

'Virus of racism'

Some very strong words from Chuka Umunna a short time ago on UKIP. "There is a virus of racism at the heart of that party that needs to be rooted out and sorted out and it isn't helped when, for example, at their spring conference last year they adopted 'Love Britain', the former slogan of the BNP as their strapline," he said.

"You cannot go around saying you don't have problems with racism in your party when again and again we see examples of this. I don't think it's in keeping with British values of fair play, of respect for one another and of openness to the world. They need to answer for these continuous examples of prejudice that we see."

Russian planes in Cornwall a 'mission rehearsal'

Sky News

As we covered earlier, William Hague confirmed today on Marr that the government has no plans to arm Ukrainian forces against Russia. But former chief of the defence staff Air Chief Marshal Lord Stirrup says Britain should consider supplying arms as a show of strength. Speaking on the Murnaghan programme, he said: "If Nato is weak or is perceived to be weak by Putin then the risk of miscalculation is much greater and our security is much lowered as a result.

He added: "These aircraft - Russian Bears for example - are not going on these very flights simply as joy rides. They are mission rehearsals. They are testing us, they are testing our defences."

Matthew Goodwin, politics professor at Nottingham University and Chatham House fellow,

Tweets: Conservatives & Kippers have been having very different experience of the 'long-term economic plan' (@YouGov data) ->

YouGov poll graph showing Conservative and UKIP experiences of the economy

Labour worried Grimsby voters 'insulted'

Labour has dismissed the comments made by one of its MPs, Austin Mitchell, that the support he enjoys in his Great Grimsby seat is so staunch that the party could put up a "raving alcoholic sex paedophile" and still be elected.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna told the BBC: "Well I don't agree with any of those comments at all."

He went on: "We're not seeking to insult anybody here. The voters will make up their own minds based on the detailed plans they see of all the different parties. We believe we've got the right plans - helping tackle low pay, reducing insecurity, helping people with their childcare in Grimsby."

'Wrong side'

Baroness Warsi

Baroness Warsi spoke again about her own resignation from the cabinet over the handling of Gaza. "I took the decision that I would rather be on the wrong side of government than the wrong side of history," she said.

'Radicalised in their bedrooms'

Sky News

Baroness Warsi has brought the battle to prevent Islamic radicalisation of young people to the home.

The former Conservative Party chairman told Sky's Murnaghan programme: "Sometimes we've been wanting to find an easy answer, we've said, 'Look, mosques should do more, madrassas should do more and it's becoming more and more apparent that people are not being radicalised in places of worship, but actually are being radicalised in their bedrooms by being on the internet."

She added that, at present: "We are fighting an ever-losing battle against extremist groups."

Talking tough on tax

Joe Lynam

BBC Business Reporter

There's been more comment about facilitating tax evasion in the fortnight since the Panorama programme on HSBC than in the five years before that.

Danny Alexander's new plan to make it a crime for banks and accountants to look the other way while their clients knowingly evade tax may appear to be a populist reaction - very late in the life of this coalition. The public may feel it's better late than never though. They see benefit fraudsters (rightly) brought before the courts and small firms harangued by the tax man for modest VAT bills while giant firms and high net worth individuals know it's unlikely they'll be prosecuted for not paying all their taxes.

Making the professional advisers pay the same fine as their clients will also send a chill down the spine of many of the big four accountants and all of the banks.

Danny Alexander concedes it might be a big ask to get a new law through Parliament making inaction in the face of tax evasion a crime but the Lib Dems will try. He says there's a much better chance of bolting on the financial penalties side of his proposal to next month's Budget though. And he may even get cross-party support.

Prescott election role

Sky News

Douglas Alexander
Getty Images

Pressed on Sky's Murnaghan programme about what part the former deputy prime minister could play in the election, Douglas Alexander said: "The role and brief that John's been given right now is to focus on climate change but I fully expect that as well as that policy role, he'll continue to support the Labour campaign in the months ahead."

Cameron 'awol' in Ukraine crisis

Sky News

Douglas Alexander has criticised David Cameron for lack of involvement with European allies in the negotiations with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

Speaking on Sky News' Murnaghan programme, the shadow foreign secretary said: "I think there's been an abject diplomatic failure. If you look at the report of the All-Party House of Lords Select Committee this week it was a damning indictment of Britain's loss of diplomatic influence.

"We're in a position where, when the French president and German chancellor are going to Minsk, the British prime minister is going awol."

Sunny Hundal, journalist,

Tweets: Baroness @SayeedaWarsi now on #murnaghan says there isn't just a single driver of radicalisation and people joining ISIS. She's right

Telegraph Politics

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