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Summary

  1. Lucy Powell, Ed Miliband's chief election strategist, says on Question Time there is "absolutely no prospect of a Labour/SNP coalition"
  2. Nigel Farage says UKIP would scrap much of the legislation designed to prevent racial discrimination in work
  3. No 10 says his remarks are "deeply concerning" while Labour brands them "shocking" - but Mr Farage says he was misrepresented
  4. A former head of fundraising for the Lib Dems steps down as a party candidate over donation claims
  5. There are 56 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Gerry Holt and Brian Wheeler

All times stated are UK

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Recap: Thursday round-up

Thanks for joining us tonight, we'll be back from 06:00 GMT on Friday with more rolling coverage.

'Less abusive'

Michael Portillo tells Sarah Vine she should have been "less abusive" in her piece about the Milibands. Alan Johnson accuses her being "spiteful and nasty". Ms Vine says she was being "mischievous" and you needed a thick skin in public life.

Political wives

Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine - wife of Conservative chief whip Michael Gove - says there is a huge difference between her "lovely" husband, who brings her a cup of tea in the morning, the "Michael Gove" she reads about in the newspapers. But it is important to stand by spouses in the political spotlight, she argues. Ms Vine was critical of an article she wrote about Ed Miliband's wife Justine, says Michael Portillo. This is what happens, suggests the columnist, saying "newspapers are not meant to be nice, they are meant to be informative".

Matching shirts!

Alan Johnson and Michael Portillo
BBC

This can't be a coincidence can it? Alan Johnson and Michael Portillo make a splash with their pink shirts.

More Clarkson-related fun

Andrew Neil picks up on Ian Hislop's point about David Cameron commenting on the Clarkson row. The PM said he was a "huge talent" and a friend and he hoped the row could be sorted out.

Top (political) Gear

This Week is off and running. With - what else - a Top Gear theme. This should be fun....

Coming up on This Week

Alan Johnson,. Sarah Vine and Tyger Drew-Honey
BBC

The guests are getting ready to go live on This Week now. Alan Johnson will be on the sofa throughout, while Sarah Vine is on at the start to talk about being a political wife, while actor Tyger Drew-Honey will be talk about teenage life later on. Desktop viewers can watch Andrew Neil and guests via the Live Coverage tab above.

Condemnation for Clarkson

Lucy Powell watches Top Gear with her stepson but thinks he should be sacked. Anna Soubry is also a fan of the programme but says Jeremy Clarkson is an "idiot who has behaved very badly". Charles Kennedy has the final word though, quoting Gone With The Wind: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".

'Biro assault'

Ian Hislop claims he was "assaulted" by Jeremy Clarkson, who he says threw a biro at him during a recording of Have I Got News For You. But the really outrageous thing, he says, is that the prime minister commented on the row.

Bennett not a 'petrolhead'...

Natalie Bennett has never watched Top Gear, she says (it's probably just as well!). She says it's time for Jeremy Clarkson to move on and stop collecting licence fee-payers' money.

The Clarkson question

The final question now and - guess what - it's about Jeremy Clarkson! Can the BBC afford to lose him?

'Not as simple'

An audience member takes Ian Hislop to task - after first admitting he is a "huge fan" of the Private Eye editor - over his claim that the Muslim community needed to do more to combat radicalisation. It's not as simple as Hislop suggests, he says. The Muslim community does not have a "single voice".

'No fifth column'

Anna Soubry rejects UKIP leader's Nigel Farage's claim that there is a "fifth column" enemy within in UK society as "outrageous".

Why are some people radicalised?

An audience member says she knows people from Bradford who have joined IS. They don't feel they fit into society in the UK, she adds. Ian Hislop says the three girls were model students. It's about finding a new British Muslim identity to counter radicalisation, replies the woman.

'Vulnerable' girls?

Why assume that the girls are "vulnerable", asks an audience member. They have chosen to go out there. She accuses Natalie Bennett of being brainwashed. Anna Soubry says they should be protected if they are under 16.

Protect children

Lucy Powell says it is too easy to look at these cases through the law enforcement prism - we need to focus on social services and protecting schoolchildren from radicalisation, she says.

Bennett on IS girls

Natalie Bennett gets treated to another excerpt from the Greens' website - she got into trouble recently for appearing to suggest people should be allowed to belong to IS, before stressing that was not her position. "We have to balance freedom versus protection", she says, in relation to the three girls.

BBC Question Time

@BBCQuestionTime

tweets: The girls will not be prosecuted in the event they return
http://bbc.in/18F5f0e #bbcqt

Kennedy backs Hislop

Charles Kennedy says you cannot expect the police to know what is going on "in some child's bedroom". It is not 1984.

Hislop backs the police

It was a mess, says Ian Hislop. The police did not ensure letters went to the parents rather just being "hidden" by the girls. He says he has some sympathy for the police who had to balance surveillance with sensitivity towards the Muslim community.

Met's apology

Time for another question. Should the Metropolitan Police have apologised to the families of three girls who went to Syria? (Met chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has apologised for failing to communicate more directly with the families of three teenage girls who are feared to have travelled to Syria to join so-called Islamic State).

From one sofa with a Michael to another

Sarah Vine on the sofa
BBC

Coming up on This Week with Andrew Neil, Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine has made a film about being a politician's wife, as she speaks up for Justine Miliband who predicted an upcoming "vicious" election campaign. The wife of Chief Whip Michael Gove said politicians were "often accused of not being real people" and have been accused of "exploiting their families for their political gain".

Watch her film here ahead of her swapping one sofa with a Michael (Gove) to the This Week sofa with another Michael (Portillo) live at 23:45 GMT.

Greens 'a joke'

That Green Party online policy document again - an audience member says he has read it and proves the party is a "bit of a joke" that is only any use to "dope smoking" peace camp dwellers. Ms Bennett accuses him of peddling stereotypes and talks about the party's wealth tax.

Clear position?

"If the public don't give you a clear result, you have got to work with what they give you," says Ian Hislop. "Yeah", says Lucy Powell.

Greens would support Labour

Natalie Bennett says the Greens would not support the Tories after the next election but would consider supporting a Labour minority government on a "case-by-case" basis.

Hislop vs Bennett

Ian Hislop and Natalie Bennett
BBC News

Natalie Bennett clashes with Ian Hislop after she suggests the election will spell the end for first-past-the-post voting and says people have been "trained" to vote tactically - suggesting they should vote for the local candidate they believe in instead. Hislop finds this patronising.

'No Labour/SNP coalition'

Charles Kennedy
BBC

A Labour/SNP coalition is not going to happen in a million years "because they hate each other," reasons Charles Kennedy. He does not rule out a looser arrangement but says there will be no SNP ministers in a Labour minority government.

'No prospect of Labour/SNP coalition'

Pressed by Anna Soubry, Lucy Powell, who is Ed Miliband's chief election strategist, says there is "absolutely no prospect of a Labour/SNP coalition". You heard it here first. That does not rule out a Labour minority government supported by the SNP on a vote-by-vote basis, of course.

Spitting Image

Ian Hislop
BBC

Former Spitting Image writer Ian Hislop stands up for his old show, accusing the Tories of "knocking off" the image of SDP leader David Owen with Liberal leader David Steel in his pocket. Older readers may remember that!

Miliband in Salmond's pocket?

Anna Soubry
BBC

Lucy Powell brings up the Tory poster showing Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond's pocket, suggesting it's "terrible" and no one outside Westminster will understand it. Anna Soubry says she rather likes it....

Red lines?

Some debate about whether the SNP would make Trident a "red line" in any negotiations with Labour. Nicola Sturgeon has talked about supporting Labour on a "case by case" basis.

'Shabby and shoddy'

Anna Soubry echoes her leader David Cameron, saying it would be "shabby and shoddy". Mr Cameron said it would be "despicable" at PMQs this week (Fun fact: The SNP constitution prevents a coalition with the Conservatives).

Labour/SNP coalition?

Speaking of which - the next question is whether a Labour/SNP deal would be a "betrayal" of English voters.

Nuclear exchange

A bit of debate about Trident. The Greens are hoping to join forces with the SNP and Plaid Cymru to make scrapping nuclear weapons a key demand in any post-election deal with Labour (although Nicola Sturgeon appeared to row back from that last week).

Reservists

Ian Hislop says the government's plan to increase the number of reservists (they used to be called territorials) is a "cheap option". He's not denigrating the reservists just that it's not the same as having a full time force. It gets a round of applause.

Kennedy's target

Charles Kennedy is in favour of the 2% target.

Bennett hits back

Ms Bennett is ready for him - she has got into trouble in the past when confronted with her party's "long term aims" - saying these are policies that have been built up over many years and will not be in the party's manifesto, which will be the next five years.

Green dreams

David Dimbleby reads out some of the Green Party's polices from its website - such as getting rid of a large standing army and turning military bases into nature reserves.

Green defence policy

Natalie Bennett
BBC

Green leader Natalie Bennett says she supports coalition plans to cut the size of the armed forces and would not go further - but the Greens would scrap Britain's Trident nuclear weapons.

2% or not 2%?

Anna Soubry
BBC

There is a huge row going on at the moment within the Conservative Party over whether Britain should commit to Nato's target for member countries of 2% of GDP on defence. The Treasury has declined to ring fence it. Defence Minister Anna Soubry nails her colours to the mast and says she wants to commit to 2% but you "can only spend the money you've got" with a strong economy. She also manages to get in a mention of "chaos", one of the Tories' main attack lines against Labour.