Beginner's guide to the Budget

George Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne will outline his fifth Budget on 19 March. What is this event all about?

What is the Budget?

It's the annual event where the chancellor lays out his tax plans and the way he's going to spend the government's - or the people's - money over the next 12 months or so. George Osborne gets up for more than an hour from 12:30 GMT in the House of Commons to tell MPs, and us, all about it.

Will it affect me?

Budget on TVs Viewers around the UK are eagerly anticipating George Osborne's announcements

Yes. As long as you spend money, earn money, care about money, it will mean something to everyone.

What should people look out for?

George Osborne and pint of beer The chancellor took a penny off the price of a pint of beer last year

Some parts are always well watched, such as the level of beer, fuel and tobacco duty. And any announcements on the level of income tax are closely watched, as are stamp duty, inheritance tax and business rates.

Anything else?

City of London Will the City of London be celebrating when George Osborne sits down?

Yes, loads. The Budget contains lots of detail. One of the things to look out for is the forecast for UK economic growth. There will also be updated figures on the size of the deficit, which is the difference between what the government gets in and what it spends. The spending cuts and tax changes since 2010 have been brought in as part of the coalition's plans to balance the books. The big numbers Osborne unveils will give clues as to how many more years of austerity they think are needed.

What's with the red briefcase?

William Gladstone William Gladstone introduced the Red Box to the world

It's all about tradition. Chancellors, ever since the mid-19th Century, have travelled from their home in 11 Downing Street to Parliament with their documents inside a case, known as the Red Box, which is held up for photographs. Fashions have changed, but it's sort of stuck.

Are there any other traditions?
Ken Clarke as chancellor Ken Clarke was the last chancellor to partake of a drink or two during his performance

Yes, the best known is that the chancellor is allowed an alcoholic tipple while he speaks. George Osborne usually abstains, but some of his predecessors enjoyed a calming whisky or two.

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Politics Live

  1.  
    14:39: Greens: Power and wealth

    The current model of economics and society serves those with power and wealth, says Greens leader Natalie Bennett. We must be citizens first and foremost - paying to common funds to look after the old, weak, poor and sick. This is what the politics of the future will look like, she adds.

     
  2.  
    14:38: No Tory deal

    "Just imagine a strong group of Green MPs", Natalie Bennett says. That group would never support a Tory government, she continues. They would have a huge say and could help develop that new politics she has been talking about, she says.

     
  3.  
    14:37: Climate change

    Speaking about climate change, Natalie Bennett says "we have to be up to the task". She says change has to come - the market is short-sighted and short-term. It is blind and senseless and works for the 1%.

     
  4.  
    @jameschappers James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    tweets: .@natalieben: "Noone should be worrying about a fracking drill burrowing into the heart of their community". Eh? #gpconf

     
  5.  
    14:36: Food banks

    Almost half jobs since 2010 are for self employed people, but many of them are living in poverty, Natalie Bennett says. Individual charity isn't a substitute for collective justice, she says of food banks.

     
  6.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: Ed M last week "a society that works for all and not just a few"; Bennett today "society that works for the many not just the few"

     
  7.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: Bennett words almost identical to Miliband's — society that works for the many not just the few

     
  8.  
    14:35: 'Demand for change is louder'

    Up and down the country campaigns demanding new politics are growing, Natalie Bennett says: "The demand for change is louder and clearer, at last, the people are fighting back."

     
  9.  
    14:34: 'Green surge'

    The Green surge is more than a hashtag or numbers, Natalie Bennett says. It's the result of members' "commitment" and "hard work". The Greens are a "central player" in British politics, she says.

     
  10.  
    14:33: 'Nobody should live in fear'
    Bennett

    Nobody should live in fear of not being able to put food on the table or going into debt to pay for education, Natalie Bennett says. The politics of the future is not the politics of transaction, she says. That is the "old" and "failed" politics.

     
  11.  
    14:29: 'Politics of the future'

    The "politics of the future delivers for everyone" in our one planet, Natalie Bennett adds. "That's the politics of the Green Party."

     
  12.  
    14:28: 'Agents of change'

    "Britain could be a very different country on 8 May", Natalie Bennett tells delegates at the party's conference. The Greens can be the "agents of change" looking to the "politics of the future", she says.

     
  13.  
    14:27: Political revolution

    Natalie Bennett says voters will have the chance at the election to start "a possibility of a peaceful political revolution". People will be able to stop the poor being punished for the mistakes of the wealthy, she says. "We can deliver a Britain which delivers to all people - a Britain which cares", she adds.

     
  14.  
    @SophyRidgeSky Sophy Ridge, Political correspondent, Sky News

    tweets: Punchy speech from Caroline Lucas - now Natalie Bennett needs to make sure she's not upstaged by the warm up act

     
  15.  
    14:26: Natalie Bennett speech
    Natalie Bennett

    Natalie Bennett on her feet at Green conference now. She thanks Caroline Lucas for being "the stand-out MP" in the current Parliament. She's confident she will be in the next Parliament and beyond, too. It's been a momentous year for the party, putting it at the forefront of British politics and making it the third largest in England and Wales.

     
  16.  
    14:25: Politics without austerity

    Caroline Lucas says the party will defend politics without austerity, nuclear power or demonisation of those who need the welfare state or those who come from abroad.

     
  17.  
    @politicshome PoliticsHome

    tweets: .@CarolineLucas says "opposition to austerity" links @theSNP & @TheGreenParty, calling for a "progressive alliance" between the two #gpconf

     
  18.  
    14:24: NHS pledge

    It's the Greens who set the agenda on a number of issues, Caroline Lucas says. She says the party will champion the NHS reinstatement bill - to reverse "marketisation" of the health service.

     
  19.  
    ‏@rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Caroline Lucas supposed to be introducing Natalie Bennett in show of support. Risk she might simply upstage her

     
  20.  
    14:23: 'More MPs'

    "Just imagine what we can do if we elect more MPs", Caroline Lucas says, adding that leader Natalie Bennett is putting the Greens on course to do that.

     
  21.  
    14:22: Progressive alliance

    With the rise of the SNP and Plaid, we have the chance to form a "progressive alliance", Caroline Lucas, the Greens' MP tells the party's conference. They've worked before on their opposition to austerity and after the election, they could do more is her message. If Labour are a minority government, the Greens could stop them pandering to big business, she says, adding: "Support them when they do the right thing, block them when they're wrong".

     
  22.  
    @politicshome PoliticsHome

    tweets: .@CarolineLucas tells Green party activists at the #gpconf that leader @natalieben is doing a "fantastic job"

     
  23.  
    14:18: Caroline Lucas

    On the general election, Caroline Lucas MP says the Greens are challenging from "a position of strength". This election is different, she says because they have something to defend - her seat in Brighton and Pavilion. That victory has given the party a voice in Parliament, to show "you can be a force for good in politics without selling out your principles".

     
  24.  
    14:17: Caroline Lucas tribute

    Paying tribute to Natalie Bennett, Caroline Lucas MP says she is proud to call her a colleague and friend.

     
  25.  
    14:15: Green conference
    Caroline Lucas

    Green Party leader Natalie Bennett is introduced by the party's MP Caroline Lucas. Ms Lucas welcomes the party's new members. She says the party is "truly democratic". "Your votes count as much as mine," she adds.

     
  26.  
    @SophyRidgeSky Sophy Ridge, Political Correspondent, Sky News

    tweets: Love that the live prompter in front of the stage at Green Party conference leaves gaps for applause

     
  27.  
    @MichaelLCrick Michael Crick, political correspondent, Channel 4 News

    tweets: ITV, I'm told, NOT thinking of going it alone & accepting Downing St proposal for 7-person debate. TV cos to unveil united plans very soon

     
  28.  
    14:10: Natalie Bennett speech

    We're just about to get going with Natalie Bennett's speech to the Green Party conference in Liverpool.

     
  29.  
    @BBCEleanorG Eleanor Garnier, BBC correspondent

    tweets: Standing ovation for @natalieben and all she's done is walk onto the stage #GreenParty

     
  30.  
    @anntreneman Ann Treneman, Times sketchwriter

    tweets: It's very green here: now know what it's like inside a mange tout

     
  31.  
    13:57: NHS Bill to be debated
    NHS logo

    The BBC's health editor Hugh Pym reports that draft legislation which would repeal the Health and Social Care Act is to be debated in the Commons next week.

    Green MP Caroline Lucas is to introduce the National Health Service Bill, which attempts to restrict the role of commercial companies in the NHS, as a private members bill next Wednesday.

     
  32.  
    13:48: 'Pity poor Farage' The Independent

    Mark Steels uses his column in today's Independent to express 'sympathy' for Nigel Farage for the supporters his party attracts.

    He writes: "You have to feel for Nigel Farage, because all he set out to do was construct a party around the idea that Britain could only be great again if it won back its independence from meddling foreigners ... and for some reason this party seems to attract a few racists."

     
  33.  
    13:44: Bob Stewart's shock resignation offer Conservative Home

    Iain Dale has described the moment on his live radio show when Conservative MP Bob Stewart threatened to resign over defence spending cuts.

    In his conservativehome column, Mr Dale writes: "I put it to him that it was politicians, not generals, who make defence policy and that, as a member of the Defence Select Committee, perhaps it would be better if he took the lead and led by example. Much to my surprise, he took up the cudgels and said that not only might he resign from the committee but he was thinking of resigning his seat too."

     
  34.  
    13:42: Pickles' parking ticket 'bitterness' BBC Radio 4
    Eric Pickles

    Eric Pickles MP has described his harrowing experience of getting a parking ticket.

    The communities secretary told the World at One he had a ticket in his hand, stopped to speak to someone briefly but by the time he got back to the car he had been given a fine. "It made me a very bitter person and twisted my life," he said.

     
  35.  
    13:39: Greens on cars Eleanor Garnier Political correspondent

    A Green Party press officer has denied the party has ever had a policy to ban cars.

    The Green Party Spring Conference agenda has a section for discussion titled "Removing Our Policy to Ban All Cars". Lower down in the text it says the "current transport policy has a line that would ban almost all currently roadworthy cars" and goes on to add that "this would probably prove unattractive with the electorate".

    But a Green Party press officer said that it had never been party policy and the member who'd put the motion down had used his words cleverly to get his motion to the top of the agenda.

     
  36.  
    13:32: 'No possibility' of SNP deal BBC Radio 4
    Ian Davidson MP

    Scottish Labour are downplaying the prospect of a deal with the SNP.

    Speaking to the World at One immediately after SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie MP - who was far more optimistic - Glasgow MP Ian Davidson said he didn't think there was "any possibility" of a confidence and supply deal with the nationalists.

     
  37.  
    @TimReidBBC Tim Reid, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: [Labour MP Ian] Davidson:"There isn't any possibility of a confidence and supply motion" with SNP #wato

     
  38.  
    13:22: SNP: Trident "not necessarily" a deal breaker BBC Radio 4

    Deputy Leader of the SNP Stewart Hosie says the SNP's position on Trident doesn't "necessarily" rule out a deal with Labour.

    Asked whether disagreement over the issue would prevent a pact with Labour, Mr Hosie told the World at One: "Not necessarily - three quarters of Labour candidates back the SNP's position."

     
  39.  
    13:18: Referendum campaign "free advert" for SNP BBC Radio 4

    Professor and psephologist John Curtice has told the World at One that the independence referendum proved to be a "two-year free advert" for the SNP's vision of Scotland.

    But he added that he SNP's vote is very sensitive and the "tide doesn't have to be reduced by much" for Labour to hang on to its seats. But there is a desperately short time for Labour to turn things around. For the latest of play on the SNP and Labour read this.

     
  40.  
    13:02: Miliband on minimum wage
    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband is taking questions from the public, including Labour Party members, in Redcar. He has just said Labour would look at increasing the minimum wage for young people - currently £3.50 an hour for 18 to 20-year-olds - but not by so much that it would "have an effect on young people's employment".

     
  41.  
    Coming up... BBC Radio 4

    The World at One coming up shortly on Radio 4. You can listen via our Live Coverage tab.

     
  42.  
    12:45: Green MEP on alliance Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Molly Scott Cato

    Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP, says her party wants a politics that moves beyond austerity - hence support for a "progressive alliance" with the SNP and Plaid Cymru, which could hold the balance power after May's election.

    She says she doesn't know anyone in the party who wants Caroline Lucas to replace Natalie Bennett in the TV debates (if they happen) - both are excellent performers, she adds (bookmakers are offering odds of 2-1 that Lucas will represent the party in any debates).

    The MEP says the party's housing policy - which led to Natalie Bennett's famous "brain fade" in a live LBC radio interview - would cost £19.5bn over the next parliament. The party is "committed to the principle" of the citizen's incomes and will open the figures up for debate soon. She claimed earlier that there was a "great sense of sisterhood" among the Green Party's leaders.

     
  43.  
    12:35: Plaid Cymru leader Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Leanne Wood

    Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru's leader, admits her party has "some way to go" before Wales has a referendum on independence - "we've got a challenge", she tells Andrew Neil. But she says there is no doubt there is increasing support for more powers.

    Ms Wood, speaking from her party's spring conference in Caernarfon, says she would not prop up a Conservative government after the election. From Labour, she would want a end to "the politics of austerity" and a new devolution deal for Wales. Follow the party's conference here.

     
  44.  
    12:32: English nationalism Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Robin Tilbrook

    English nationalism is always seen as something negative, unlike Scottish and Welsh nationalisms, says Julia Hartley-Brewer. The panel are discussing the role of the English Democrats with the party's leader Robin Tilbrook, who says he wants England as a single, independent nation - not broken up into constituent parts, but standing alone.

     
  45.  
    @George_Osborne George Osborne

    tweets: 1 month until biggest reforms to pensions in a century come in. Your money, your choice #pensionfreedoms

     
  46.  
    12:30: 'Can't go preaching' on defence Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    We can't "go around preaching" to other NATO countries that they should spend 2% of their GDP on defence and not do it ourselves, says Bob Stewart. But he says he won't resign from the Conservative Party on the issue. Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown suggests the UK needs a "different kind" of defence.

     
  47.  
    12:21: Miliband's vow to pensioners
    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband is in Redcar, on the Yorkshire coast, to set out his offer to pensioners at the general election. "Even in these tough times," he says, "we will strengthen the protection for pensioners." The party would cut the winter fuel allowance for better-off pensioners, but all other benefits, including TV licences for the over 75s and bus passes, would be untouched if Labour wins power. Full details here.

     
  48.  
    @tnewtondunn Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of The Sun

    tweets: I hear ITV contemplating going unilateral and hosting a 7 way debate as per No10 offer, as they have 1st one. Would send BBC/Sky apoplectic.

     
  49.  
    12:14: Bob Stewart on defence Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Bob Stewart MP

    Colonel Bob Stewart, the Tory MP, says he feels "horror" at the prospect of defence spending falling after the election. The former British Army officer says defence is the first priority, and we are already "down to the bare minimum". He disputes the idea there are no votes in defence, saying the public cares about the issue. Debate is raging in the Conservative Party over whether defence spending should be ring fenced at 2% of GDP.

     
  50.  
    12:08: 'Everything to play for' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two
    Daily Politics

    On the subject of a possible Labour/SNP deal after the election, journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown says Ed Miliband should not rule out a possible pact - it would "be a mistake", she thinks. Julia Hartley-Brewer agrees - "everything is to play for", but Mr Miliband should set out what his red lines are and what deals he might do.

    But is it a nationalist trap to facilitate the break-up of the UK? "One should not be automatically suspicious" says Alibhai-Brown. Nicola Sturgeon is different from Alex Salmond, she adds, praising the SNP leader as "very appealing" (and as having "beautiful nails").

     
  51.  
    @bbc5live BBC Radio 5 live

    tweets: Just how crumbly is the Palace of Westminster?

    @JPonpolitics went through the keyhole

     
  52.  
    11:55: Tories on Labour/SNP

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has been speaking about a potential Labour/SNP deal after the election. He says such a deal would "mean more debt than our children could ever hope to repay, higher taxes on hardworking people and economic chaos for our country."

    He adds: "Ed Miliband and the SNP have signed the pre-nup and are now half-way up the aisle.

    "Day after day, vote after vote in Parliament, Ed Miliband would be forced to negotiate with Alex Salmond - the man who tried to break up Britain - about how to run Britain."

     
  53.  
    11:51: Democrats 'flying the flag' BBC News Channel
    Robin Tilbrook

    Robin Tilbrook of the English Democrats has been speaking about the difference between his party and UKIP. Asked whether his policies are the same as Nigel Farage's party he said he "didn't know about that" and described Mr Farage as having torn up his own party's manifesto in a "fit of pique".

    Mr Tilbrook went on to set out the English Democrats' hopes for the election: "I don't think we will win a seat to be fair, we're not aiming to do that what we are aiming to do is to fly the flag for England."

     
  54.  
    11:43: Major "embarrassing" Labour
    Stewart Hosie at party conference

    Stewart Hosie MP has labelled John Major's comments on a potential Labour/SNP deal after the election as "embarrassing" for Labour.

    The SNP Deputy leader said in a statement: "For a former Tory prime minister to tell Labour what to do on the eve of their conference in Scotland is hugely embarrassing for Jim Murphy.

    "John Major wants the Tories to be re-elected in May, and therefore he wants Labour to rule out an agreement with the SNP, because that would stop the Tories. There are no circumstances in which the SNP would put the Tories into government - the question is if Labour have the same commitment, with a number of senior Labour figures promoting voting Tory in Scotland, and even the idea of a 'grand alliance' between the Tories and Labour.

    "A strong team of SNP MPs elected in May means a powerful voice for Scotland - and that is really what the Westminster establishment, Labour and Tory, are really scared of."

     
  55.  
    11:35: Greens gunning for Bristol West BBC News Channel
    Molly Scott Cato

    Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has just been setting the Greens' electoral ambitions. She told the BBC's Eleanor Garnier electoral success would mean holding former leader Caroline Lucas's Brighton Pavillion seat and gaining Bristol West

    She said the now notorious Natalie Bennett LBC interview was just a case of the leader having an "off day", which no one outside Westminster is talking about. And she suggested the media now moves on.

     
  56.  
    11:27: Games fail

    Another politician has been caught playing on their tablet during a meeting. Lib Dem councillor Martin Elengorn was snapped by a Tory rival playing a sneaky game of Scrabble during a town hall meeting in Richmond, South London, reports the Evening Standard. The incident has put him off the game for life, apparently.

     
  57.  
    11:20: Labour 'at war' over resources The Scotsman

    According to today's Scotsman, there is a row in Scottish Labour over where to concentrate resources ahead of the election. The paper says several MPs have "demanded" the party gives up on trying to save the west of Scotland, with one even saying they should abandon Glasgow - previously a hot bed of Labour support, but which voted in favour of independence at the referendum. This comes after a poll suggested Labour could lose most of its seat north of the border. More here.

     
  58.  
    11:11: Sing-a-long-a-UKIP You Tube

    For those looking for something to make their Friday lunchtime go with a swing, here's UKIP candidate for Stockton Mandy Boylett singing her cover version of Abba's Chiquitita, with rewritten lyrics tackling the government's record on immigration and criticising her electoral opponent, Labour MP Alex Cunningham.

    All together now...

     
  59.  
    @TheGreenParty The Green Party

    tweets: .@TheGreenParty welcomes over 1,300 attendees to @ACCLiverpool for the Party's largest ever Conference. #gpconf

    AND

    tweets: .@TheGreenParty membership stands at almost 56,000 #gpconf #GreenSurge

     
  60.  
    11:02: Immigration-led cuts in services The Daily Telegraph

    More on immigration, with the Telegraph reporting that population increases fuelled by immigration have helped to contribute to cuts of almost 50 per cent cut in council services in parts of the country.

    The paper cites IFS analysis that shows councils which had big influxes of immigrants were among those hit the hardest by cuts to local authority budgets.

     
  61.  
    @LBC LBC

    tweets: Nigel Farage's response to the woman who called him the Messiah is hilarious!

     
  62.  
    10:46: Lab/SNP pact would 'save' union

    Amid all the calls for Ed Miliband to rule out a coalition with the SNP, an alternative take on politics.co.uk. The piece argues that ignoring SNP electoral success would push Westminster further from Scotland, whereas Ed Miliband and Sturgeon arm-in-arm would send a powerful "better together" message.

     
  63.  
    @Plaid_Cymru Plaid Cymru

    tweets: "The vision I've got for Wales is one where no individual is left behind & more autonomy is how we can achieve that" Leanne tells students

     
  64.  
    10:29: SNP 'hurts Labour'
    Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy MP and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP

    More comment on a possible Labour/SNP coalition from Phil Collins in today's Times (subscription required).

    He writes: "Give or take a few Lib Dem seats, the rise and fall of the SNP and Labour is a zero-sum game. The SNP hurts Labour and benefits the Conservatives. This is a split in the left that will surpass the damage that UKIP can do to the Conservatives south of the border."

    He calls for Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy to, therefore, rule out a coalition with the SNP.

     
  65.  
    10:23: Labour to set out pensioner offer
    Labour leader Ed Miliband MP

    Ed Miliband is to set out his party's offer to pensioners at a campaign event in Yorkshire later today.

    The Labour leader will pledge to maintain the 'triple lock' on the state pension and guarantee free bus passes and free TV licences to all those currently eligible. But he will say he will take away winter fuel payments from the richest five per cent of pensioners.

    More here.

     
  66.  
    10:17: Challenge for Bennett The Daily Telegraph
    Green party leader Natalie Bennett

    Today's Telegraph may make reassuring reading for Green party leader Natalie Bennett, ahead of her party conference speech this afternoon.

    Although the paper reports some knives out for Ms Bennett among the membership, following her performance during 'that' LBC interview, the piece says the numbers dissatisfied are not enough for any move against her as leader. A petition of ten per cent of the membership is required to trigger a leadership election.

    We will be covering Natalie Bennett's speech here around 14:00 GMT.

     
  67.  
    10:08: Plaid conference
    Leanne Wood

    Plaid Cymru is holding its conference in Caernarfon today. In her speech - expected early this afternoon - party leader Leanne Wood will urge the "Westminster parties" to promise Wales an extra £1.2bn a year. You can follow the proceedings here.

     
  68.  
    10:01: 'Serious concerns' over parking plans
    Car park

    The Local Government Association has been responding to the government's announcement that drivers will get 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parks in England. Cllr David Sparks, the body's chair, says many councils already allow grace periods.

    He adds: "We are concerned that government has rushed through today's announcement and failed to fully consult councils on the detail of the regulation. Beyond the headlines, what is particularly worrying is the detail of these proposals which could make roads less safe for vulnerable pedestrians and inconvenience millions of motorists and commuters.

    "We have serious concerns about the decision to ban the use of CCTV on zebra crossings and bus routes. This decision could endanger vulnerable road users such as children, blind or disabled people and create delays for millions of bus users."

     
  69.  
    09:55: Farage on 'negative campaign'

    A bit more from Nigel Farage on the tone of the election campaign.

    The UKIP leader has ruled out making personal attacks on his opponents for the duration of the campaign and blamed the influence of American advisers for what he predicted would be the most negative contest ever.

    Mr Farage laid blame for the tone on "Washington spin doctors" - the Conservatives' Jim Messina and Labour's David Axelrod.

    "What I'm seeing in this election is the influence of these big American advisers and it's becoming the most negative, personal and nasty campaign I've ever seen," he said.

    The UKIP leader hit out at criticism of his Labour counterpart, telling LBC radio: "I don't agree with what most of Ed Miliband stands for but he's a perfectly decent human being.

    "For him to be attacked personally day after day after day - how is that taking us forward? I'm going to do my best over the next 60-odd days to rise above it."

     
  70.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Green conference doc: policy to ban almost all cars "would probably prove unattractive to the electorate"

     
  71.  
    09:49: Immigration figures Chris Mason Political correspondent, BBC News

    There is recognition at Westminster - across the political divide - that immigration really matters to millions of people, our correspondent says. You only have to flick through the literature the party have been churning out to really get a sense of how important immigration is, he adds.

     
  72.  
    09:47: Farage on 2010 manifesto

    "We had a massive PR problem with our 2010 manifesto", Nigel Farage admits on LBC. "A 12 page document that was put to me and signed off was fine. Behind it were 486 pages of detailed notes then deemed to be the manifesto." He says much of the content was "intellectual wonderings" and accuses other of playing "academic games".

     
  73.  
    09:39: Labour-led coalition with SNP a "nightmare scenario" The Daily Telegraph

    Max Hastings sets out his views on the prospect of a Labour-led coalition with the SNP in today's Mail.

    He doesn't spare the hyperbole: "If this sounds a nightmare scenario for the English people, and indeed for everybody with a head on their shoulders throughout the UK, it is the way events could turn out if the polls are right."

    He concludes: "The grim prospect for English taxpayers is that Miliband himself, and many of his supporters, would be more than happy to support the SNP's almost Stalinist agenda for raising borrowing and soaking the rich, purely to sustain their Labour and Scottish client votes."

     
  74.  
    09:29: Hammond in Warsaw
    Hammond

    Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is in Warsaw for talks with his Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna

     
  75.  
    09:25: Farage 'a very naughty boy'

    Nigel Farage is having a fun over on LBC.

    When one caller said she felt Mr Farage had been sent from on high to protect us, presenter Nick Ferrari asked Mr Farage if he had, in fact, been sent by God. The UKIP leader modestly responded: "I am not the Messiah, I'm a very naughty boy" - a reference, of course, to the famous Monty Python sketch,

     
  76.  
    @JamesTapsfield James Tapsfield, Press Association reporter

    tweets: Ukip immig policy premised on leaving EU - but wd take two years+ of negs after "out" referendum vote. Unclear what wd happen in interim

     
  77.  
    09:20: UK 'no longer a 'serious player'
    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage is voicing strong support for increasing the UK defence budget on his LIBC show.

    He says it is "absolutely astonishing" that a Conservative-led government has upped the foreign aid budget but cut the defence budget.

    He added: "Internationally we are no longer being referred to as a serious player."

     
  78.  
    09:16: Farage 'turning the other cheek'

    Nigel Farage comes out fighting against Nick Clegg over on LBC.

    Responding to the Lib Dem leader saying Mr Farage was "having a nice time of it", the UKIP leader said he didn't want to trade insults, adding: "I'm trying to turn the other cheek."

    But he went on: "when it comes to inconsistency on policy the Lib Dems are absolutely at the top of the tree."

    Mr Farage said this election campaign was becoming one of the nastiest he had ever seen but he would do his best to rise above it.

     
  79.  
    09:09: Farage: Cameron afraid to debate immigration

    Nigel Farage is talking immigration with Nick Ferrari on LBC.

    He asks: "I'm reading Tory literature talking about controlling immigration - but how can you control immigration if you have an open door policy?"

    The UKIP leader went on to say this is the issue Mr Cameron is afraid to debate.

     
  80.  
    @Nigel_Farage Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

    tweets: #PhoneFarage: Mr Cameron doesn't want to face the questions about how he's doubled the national debt in just 5 years

    Nigel Farage
     
  81.  
    09:00: Jim Murphy on polls
    Jim Murphy

    Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has been speaking to BBC Scotland about his party's polling performance, which suggests they could lose almost all of their seats north of the border. He told Good Morning Scotland: "There's still a long way to go. In voting for an SNP MP, people will get a Tory government." More on his interview on our Scotland Live page.

     
  82.  
    08:58: Preventing extremism BBC Radio 4 Today

    Has the government's Prevent scheme - a key element of its counter-terrorism strategy- failed? Frank Gardner, our security correspondent, says it has worked in some cases, where people have been steered away from extremism at the last minute. But in other cases it has been counter-productive. The scheme has a problem of perception - it is seen by many Muslims as unfairly focussing on their communities, he adds.

    Our correspondent spoke to experts about the scheme. We'll post a link later.

     
  83.  
    08:53: Putin's 'undeclared war' on Ukraine BBC Radio 4 Today
    José Manuel Barroso

    José Manuel Barroso says Europe must not accept Russia seeking to redraw the borders of Europe.

    He told Today: "Putin is saying he respects the sovereignty of Ukraine. But at the same time we know this is the biggest Russian operation since the Second World War in military terms. It's a kind of undeclared war."

    The former President of the European Commission went on to say that he expects the situation to get worse before it gets better.

     
  84.  
    08:47: 'Parliamentary no-man's land' The Daily Telegraph

    Fraser Nelson says the Tories need to be more ambitious if they are to win an overall majority.

    Writing in today's Telegraph, he says: "On its own, 'long-term economic plan' just won't be enough. It will lead not to victory, but to a parliamentary no-man's land."

     
  85.  
    08:44: Sturgeon on Trident The Guardian

    Is Trident a red line for the SNP? In another video posted by the Guardian, Nicola Sturgeon suggests her party could still back a Labour government if it backs renewal of the weapons. But the SNP leader rules out her party voting for it.

     
  86.  
    08:36: Davey: Tories 'crazy' for fracking The Daily Telegraph
    Ed Davey MP

    The Telegraph is reporting Ed Davey's criticism of the faith some Conservatives have in fracking.

    The Lib Dem Energy Secretary said parts of the Conservative Party are "crazy" because they want to "frack every bit of croquet lawn" in Britain.

     
  87.  
    @DPJHodges Dan Hodges, political commentator

    tweets: Someone needs to explain to me how telling Scottish voters "vote SNP and we disenfranchise you" helps make the case for the Union.

     
  88.  
    08:29: Sturgeon on domestic chores
    Strugeon

    Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister, has been a vocal advocate of women's rights since taking over from Alex Salmond. It might come as a surprise to some, therefore, that she still irons her husband's shirts. She made the revelation in a video interview with the Guardian. Her husband is SNP chief executive Peter Murrell.

    As part of a series of videos, the SNP leader also said she couldn't rule out another independence referendum.

     
  89.  
    08:23: Green conference Eleanor Garnier Political correspondent

    Our correspondent says the Green Party has seen a huge surge in membership over the last year and even had to change venue to fit in all the activists it expects to turn up.

    But leader Natalie Bennett is under some pressure after a poor interview performance last month and our reporter says Ms Bennett "really does need to bounce back."

    There is unprecedented opportunity at this conference, but also unprecedented scrutiny, she concludes.

     
  90.  
    08:19: UKIP 'will reduce immigration' BBC Radio 4 Today
    Mark Reckless MP

    UKIP MP Mark Reckless is on Today defending the party's immigration policy. Asked why the party don't have a target for immigration, Mr Reckless said: "What we are going to do is control the quarter of a million people who come from the EU last year."

    He went on to set out policies including tighter border controls and a points-based system and said: "What that will do will hugely reduce that number of people coming to this country."

     
  91.  
    @FrankRGardner Frank Gardner

    tweets: We'll be discussing the UK Govt's controversial 'Prevent' strategy to counter extremism at 0830 on @BBCr4today

     
  92.  
    08:08: UK 'needs own Abraham Lincoln' The Guardian

    Over on the Guardian, Martin Kettle argues the UK needs its own Abraham Lincoln. If Britain proves to be "a house divided against itself" in coming years, especially with the rise of nationalism, "it will also require someone to fill Lincoln-sized shoes if the house is to continue to stand, both within these islands and in the union with Europe", he says. But he's not confident David Cameron or Ed Miliband have shown they can match the former US president's oratory skills. You can read his piece here.

     
  93.  
    08:04: Chuka: Selfies 'keep it real'
    Chuka Umunna MP

    In an interview with House magazine, Chuka Umunna has praised the selfie. He said: "The thing about selfies is so often you do these posed, formal shots whereas when you are doing a group shot like that, it's a little bit more relaxed, you keep it real. Certainly with young people, it just relaxes the whole thing. And that is what my constituents say: keep it real."

    The Shadow Business Secretary also told House that he finds it awkward being praised for his looks: "I feel a little bit awkward, if I'm honest about it". He added: "It amuses my family, my friends take the piss out of me royally about it."

     
  94.  
    07:53: Bennett interview 'a serious failure' Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News
    Natalie Bennett

    The stumbling performance by Green leader Natalie Bennett in a radio interview last month was a "serious failure" that showed she had failed to prepare and left her colleagues "taken aback", according to the Green leader on Liverpool City Council John Coyne.

    He told the BBC it wouldn't happen again as Ms Bennett would in future rehearse her performance in mock interviews.

    Mr Coyne said: "It's a failure that she was underprepared we know why that happened and we know it will be fixed for the future."

    The criticism comes as Greens meet in Liverpool for their spring conference, gathering in the Liverpool Riverside constituency - which they are targeting at the general election - and where Mr Coyne is a sitting councillor.

    Mr Coyne is chair of the Green Councillors Association and was the first Green on Liverpool council after defecting from the Liberal Democrats.

    He said: "It was a serious failure and we thought it might be damaging to us but one thing that perhaps is saving us from that is people who are attracted to the Green Party tend to have a more generous disposition anyway."

    Asked about the reaction of Greens to a performance he described as "excruciating" he said: "We were taken aback but again in the Green Party we are compassionate and it certainly helped to indicate that we have someone who's a human being."

    Bennett apologised to members after the interview.

     
  95.  
    07:47: Globalisation driving immigration

    Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani digests today's immigration story on his blog. He writes: "The old way of thinking about immigration and how it affects the UK needs to be tossed into the dustbin."

    He adds: "Today's migrants - particularly those from Eastern Europe - may be found in all manner of locations because of the effects of globalisation and the single market."

    Research from Oxford University shows immigration has increased the population of England by half a million in the past three years.

     
  96.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC correspondent

    tweets: Green leader Natalie Bennett will do mock interviews in future to prepare, Liverpool councillor tells me before Liverpool conference

     
  97.  
    07:41: John Major on SNP The Daily Telegraph
    John Major

    Sir John Major has also been giving his views on the rise of the SNP in Scotland. The former Tory prime minister, writing in this morning's Telegraph, says Ed Miliband should rule out a coalition with the nationalists. He says "the SNP would enter into any agreement with Labour with one overriding aim: to break up the United Kingdom". You can read the Telegraph's news story here and Sir John's piece here.

     
  98.  
    @Number10gov UK Prime Minister

    tweets: PM: To everyone in the UK, India and around the world celebrating the festival of colour and arrival of spring, I wish you a happy #Holi!

     
  99.  
    07:30: John Humphrys in Watford BBC Radio 4 Today

    In the latest of Today's 100 seats in 100 days series, John Humphrys has visited Watford to explore what effect marketing has on voter choices. You can listen to his package here.

     
  100.  
    07:23: Plaid to demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland
    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM

    Plaid Cymru say they will demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland in any post-election Westminster coalition talks.

    At the party's spring conference in Caernarfon, party leader Leanne Wood will urge the "Westminster parties" to promise Wales an extra £1.2bn a year.

    More on this.

     

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