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  1. The Conservatives promise to create two million new jobs if re-elected
  2. Labour say they will help small firms by cutting business rates by an average of £400
  3. Plaid Cymru launch their election manifesto with a call to end austerity
  4. Lib Dems promise to spend billions more on mental health
  5. There are 37 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Victoria King, Alex Stevenson and Victoria Park

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Review of the day

    Polling Day minus 37 was a day dominated by numbers:

    • More than 100 business leaders signed a letter backing the Conservatives' approach on the economy
    • The latest YouGov/Sun poll put the Conservatives and Labour neck and neck on 35%
    • Revised GDP figures put UK growth for 2014 at 2.8% - the fastest growth since 2006
    • David Cameron said a Conservative government would help business create two million new jobs over the next five years
    • The Liberal Democrats promise an extra £3 billion on mental health services
    • UKIP launched their latest campaign poster featuring escalators leading up the white cliffs of Dover. Leader Nigel Farage said net migration should fall to around 30,000 a year
    • Plaid Cymru published its general election manifesto. They want equivalent powers for Wales to those now being granted Scotland, an extra 1,000 doctors and 50,000 new jobs via more public contracts for Welsh companies
    • And finally, Nick Clegg met Joey Essex. The TOWIE star tweeted "nice to meet you to mate". One can only assume he meant "nice to meet you too, mate"
  2. Labour reaction to business letter

    Labour's press team have taken to Twitter to give the party's reaction to a letter from 100 business leaders backing the Conservatives.

    "No one will be surprised that some business people support the Tories. That's nothing new," says a spokesman.

    "The recovery may have reached big firms in the City but it hasn't reached homes of working people. Labour's job is to stand up for them."

  3. Business leaders' letter

    More on the letter from 100 business leaders, backing Conservative policy. The tycoons highlight George Osborne's policy of steadily lowering corporation tax to 20%.

    "The result is that Britain grew faster than any other major economy last year and businesses like ours have created over 1.85 million new jobs.

    "We believe a change in course will threaten jobs and deter investment. This would send a negative message about Britain and put the recovery at risk," says the letter to the Telegraph .

    Signatories include BP chief executive Bob Dudley, Prudential chief executive Tidjane Thiam and George Weston, chief executive of Associated British Foods which owns the Primark, Silver Spoon and Ovaltine brands. Sir Charles Dunstone, the chairman of Dixons Carphone and Talk Talk plc, and Duncan Bannatyne, a former star of Dragons' Den also put their names to the letter.

  4. Tomorrow's Sun

    The Sun
  5. More zero hours reaction

    Ed Miliband's zero hours announcement has split opinion.

    Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union, said: "At long last the damage of zero-hours contracts is to be addressed. This news will be welcomed by the tens of thousands of people for whom the world of work is a daily lottery."

    TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Exploitative zero-hours contracts are a gift for bad employers who can effectively hire and fire staff at will."

    The CBI - sometimes described as the bosses' union - is less impressed with Mr Miliband's policy.

    CBI Director General John Cridland said: "The UK’s flexible jobs market has given us an employment rate that is the envy of other countries, so proposals to limit flexible contracts to 12 weeks are wide of the mark.

    “Of course action should be taken to tackle abuses, but demonising flexible contracts is playing with the jobs that many firms and many workers value and need.

    "These proposals run the risk of a return to day-to-day hiring in parts of the economy, with lower stability for workers and fewer opportunities for people to break out of low pay.”

  6. Tomorrow's i

  7. Tomorrow's Financial Times

    Financial Times
  8. Tory rebuttal

    The Conservatives have hit back at Ed Miliband's plans for a crackdown on zero hours contracts. A spokesman said: "Zero hours contracts account for just one in 50 jobs in our economy, this government has already banned the abusive ones - and all the while Labour presided over zero hours contracts with no safeguards for three terms and 13 years while they were in power.

    "The fact is that three quarters of the new jobs since this government came to office are full time – these are families across the country getting into work with the security of a regular pay packet".

  9. Tomorrow's Times

  10. Wind farm 'fatwa'

    Nick Clegg claims the Conservatives have an "ideological fatwa" against new wind farms The Lib Dem leader said the Conservatives had "abandoned" their commitment to green issues. He added: "They appear to have absolutely no interest in the environment whatsoever - in fact some of the most time-consuming battles I have been absorbed with over the last five years are stopping, particularly the Treasury, from tearing up the government's basic commitments to renewable energy and to a sustainable energy policy."

  11. Tomorrow's Daily Mail

    Daily Mail
  12. Tomorrow's Daily Telegraph

    D Tel
  13. Letter to the Telegraph

    James Landale, BBC Deputy Political Editor

    Quote Message: More than a hundred of Britain's leading company bosses, many of them household names, employing collectively half a million people have written a letter to the Daily Telegraph publicly endorsing the Conservatives and their economic policy.
  14. Zero hours contracts

    Ed Miliband's big campaigning theme on Wednesday will be zero-hours contracts. He will pledge legislation to ban such contracts for employees who are, in practice, working regular hours in the first year of a Labour government.

    And he will seize on David Cameron's admission, in his TV clash with Jeremy Paxman, that he could not live on a zero hours contract. Speaking at one of his People's Question Time events, in Yorkshire, the Labour leader will say:"If it’s not good enough for him, it’s not good enough for you. And it’s not good enough for Britain either.

    "These zero hours contracts have become a symbol of the Tories’ failing economy with stagnant wages and falling productivity leaving a recovery which isn’t reaching your front door and a deficit still at Downing Street’s door."

  15. Analysis: Latest polls

    BBC polling expert David Cowling says: YouGov’s first poll, following their Sunday 4% Labour lead, had Conservative and Labour level-pegging on 35%; and TNS had the Conservatives one point ahead of Labour (33% v 32%) with UKIP on 16% - their highest figure in a campaign poll so far. A ComRes poll of 40 Labour seats in Scotland confirmed other national polls, with a 19% swing from Labour to the SNP. There was better news for Labour in two London-wide polls. ComRes had Labour on 46% and YouGov on 45%, with the Conservatives hovering around their 2010 share of 34%. ComRes represented a 5.5% swing to Labour and YouGov a swing of 4%. The Lib Dems were down from 22% in 2010 to 8% now. UKIP continued to underperform in London with around 8-9%; and the Greens will be disappointed that they were on 4% in both polls in a city where they have performed better than average in the past. For a more in depth look check out our poll tracker.

  16. UKIP organiser steps down

    UKIP's national organiser in Wales has stepped down two days into the general election campaign. John Atkinson, who holds other positions in the party, told BBC Wales he needed to reduce his workload. Read more here .

  17. 'Finished in Scotland'

    The Scottish Conservatives have put the boot into the Lib Dems, following the latest ComRes poll showing a 19 point swing from Labour to the SNP. The Conservatives are marginally down on 13%, with the Lib Dems on 2%. "This poll confirms even more emphatically that the Lib Dems are finished in Scotland," says a Tory spokesman..

  18. Gavin Hewitt


    tweets : Worth remembering: 'in every election since 1992 the post-election budget has had big tax rises.' Institute for Fiscal Studies #election2015

  19. Party funding 'must change'

    Norman Lamb tells the BBC 3 Free Speech audience that the way parties are financed currently is "an outrage". The Liberal Democrats, he says, have tried throughout the Parliament to get agreement to limit donations. He accuses the Tories of trying to "buy" seats.

  20. Next Lib Dem leader?

    Norman Lamb does not rule out a bid for his party's leadership when a vacancy arises, which he is sure it will at some point. But he tells the 'free speech' audience he would have to think hard about the impact it would have on his family.

  21. Tuition fees

    Not surprisingly Norman Lamb is getting a hard time over the Lib Dems' broken promise on student fees. He says it was a "big mistake" to make the promise and the party has "taken a hit" - but it was the right thing to do in the national interest. Fees mean "universities will be forced to listen to students about the sort of education they want," he argues.

  22. Hand guns

    UKIP's Diane James doesn't agree with Nigel Farage on another issue it seems. The UKIP leader has said he believes the current laws on hand guns should be relaxed. Ms James - who is UKIP's home affairs spokeswoman - says the current legislation should remain in place and should even be strengthened. It does not seem as if she has much influence over her party's leader, points out one audience member.

  23. Polyglot passengers

    The UKIP MEP Diane James has said she has "no issue at all" with hearing people speaking foreign languages while travelling on a train. The MEP was challenged on the BBC 3 Free Speech programme about remarks made by UKIP leader Nigel Farage to the effect that he wished he could hear an English voice on the train. Ms James said she had "absolutely no view" about Mr Farage's comments.

  24. BBC 3 Free Speech

    Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb is now facing questions from young people.

    Norman Lamb
  25. Roger Mosey


    tweets: If only the studio audience for Cameron and Miliband had been as lively as the one on @bbcthree 's #freespeech now.

  26. Post update

    Latest Seat Forecast - Newsnight


    For the course of the general election campaign, BBC Newsnight each evening will be publishing an exclusive Newsnight Index on the likely outcome, based on a sophisticated forecast model. It is produced by Professor Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia and his colleagues at For more information on how the Index is produced, see here.


    Newsnight seat forecast
  27. BBC 3 free speech

    UKIP MEP Diane James is answering young peoples' questions live now.

    Diane James MEP
  28. Social media row

    A general election candidate has faced criticism on social media for telling a woman in a gay marriage that he did not want to hear from her again. Peterborough Conservative Stewart Jackson sent the response to constituent Laura O'Sullivan after she messaged him to say she would not vote for him. Social media consultant Sue Llewellyn said the message was "stupid". Mr Jackson has been unavailable to comment on the exchange. Read the full story here.

  29. Cameron contradicts police over Syria girls

    David Cameron appears to have contradicted senior Metropolitan Police officers by suggesting the east London schoolgirls who fled to Syria could face criminal charges if they choose to return to the UK. Asked what would happen to the girls, who are thought to have joined Islamic State, should they ever try to return, he told BBC London: "Whoever has gone out to join a terrorist organisation is breaking the law and has to face the consequences of breaking the law.

    "We have to let the law take its course in the proper way."

    Earlier this month, Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the Bethnal Green Academy pupils would not face terrorism charges if they came back.

  30. Kevin Schofield, chief political correspondent of The Sun


    tweets : The Tories will launch their election manifesto on April 13. #GE2015

  31. Will election campaign make any difference?

    Daily Politics

    Live on BBC Two

    The election campaign has been been under way for about 24 hours but some potential voters may not be excited by five more weeks of politics. Daily Politics reporter Ellie Price took the mood box - an unscientific test with a box with plastic balls - to see whether the public thought the campaign and election would make any difference to them. Watch what voters have to say

    Ellie Price with voters
  32. 'Back in the fight'

    Some reaction to the latest Comres poll predicting a 19 point swing from Labour to the SNP in Scotland.Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy says the poll shows some improvement for his party but they were not getting carried away. "We are back in the fight but we are still the underdogs. If this poll is repeated on election day it could hand the keys to Downing Street back to David Cameron", he says.

    SNP campaign director Angus Robertson said the poll was "welcome" but the party wasn't taking anything for granted. He also claims more SNP MPs will be good for the whole of the UK. "By electing more anti-Tory MPs than Tory MPs we can lock David Cameron out of Downing Street - and put an end to the ideological commitment to austerity which is hurting communities across Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.".

  33. Cannabis safer than alcohol, says party

    Daily Politics

    Live on BBC Two

    Using alcohol causes violence and crime, unlike cannabis, said the leader of Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Party (CISTA), which is fielding candidates in the general election. Paul Birch said he would prefer his own adult children to use the drug, rather than drink wine. Watch his interview with Andrew Neil

    Paul Birch
  34. Plaid: Very real alternative to austerity

    Andrew Neil

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Plaid Cymru has unveiled its general election manifesto and pledged to be a "very real alternative" to what it claimed was the austerity consensus from Westminster. Leader Leanne Wood spoke about the party's poll ratings compared to UKIP, and its stance over potentially working with a minority Labour government, despite Plaid's refusal to back the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons. She claimed Labour was trying to "frighten people" and said she would not "prop up" a Conservative government. Watch her interview

    Leanne Wood
  35. Poll suggests 19-point swing from Lab to SNP

    ITV News/ComRes

    A poll released tonight suggests a 19 point swing from Labour to the SNP in Scotland. If translated into votes, the SNP would be on course to take 28 of Labour's 40 Scottish seats. .

  36. Nuclear deterrent 'absolutely essential'

    Appearing live on #BBCAskThis, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude says one of the biggest priorities for a majority Conservative government will be maintaining the Trident nuclear programme. "There cannot be any higher priority than the security and safety of this nation," he said. "Continuing an independent nuclear deterrent is absolutely essential to that," added Mr Maude, who has served as a minister under Thatcher, Major and Cameron, but is standing down as an MP.

  37. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader:

    SMS Message: I work in the NHS as a paramedic and I definitely feel hammered over the last 4 years don't feel better off at all. Thank you Mr Cameron.
  38. Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator



    Quote Message: David Cameron tells Heat magazine “i’m a man, I can’t do two things at once.” Like chop carrots in kitchen while giving interviews?
  39. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader:

    SMS Message: Labour keep saying they will increase wages, how do they expect businesses to pay for it? An extra £1 an hour per employee on a 40 hour week will cost an employer approx an extra £2400 a year.
  40. Francis Maude

    Live now on #BBCAskThis

    Francis Maude
  41. Get involved

    Text: 61124


    SMS Message: When deciding retirement age why is geographical location of state pensioners not considered and variable rates applied? My reason for asking is in looking at my primary school photograph of the Glasgow, Shettleston class of 1955 (year 1) only 2% (or 6) are alive in April 2015. Similar in most working class areas in Scotland, meaning no pension yet lifetime payments. Rip-off.
  42. Why is UKIP off to a slow start?

    Two days into the election campaign and Nigel Farage appears to be taking it easy, writes the BBC's UKIP Campaign Correspondent Robin Brant  There has been no obvious door-knocking, or public events - instead the UKIP leader has been turning up, answering some reporters' questions, and leaving. Perhaps he doesn't want to bore people, or thinks people won't take any notice of the election until after Easter.

  43. Now, now...

    A number of "celebrities" have stepped into the political ring today - adding a bit of colour and amusement to debates over health and living standards. The Only Way is Essex star Joey Essex revealed he thought Nick Clegg's party was called the "Liberal Democats", prompting the party to change its logo to a cat. Labour, meanwhile, has been given a boost from the Hobbit and Sherlock star Martin Freeman, who appears in a broadcast to say: “Really, for me, there’s only one choice, and I choose Labour.” But not everyone agrees with Freeman. Sun columnist Katie Hopkins took to Twitter to say she will leave the UK if Labour leader Ed Miliband is elected PM.

  44. High on a hill was a lonely goatherd...

    Shadow chancellor Ed Balls says he does not ever think he'll be leader of the Labour Party "and that's fine". But in a wide-ranging interview with the Evening Standard, the 2010 leadership contender said he would back his wife, Yvette Cooper, for the top job. "She'd do it brilliantly because she's a class act," he said, but added: "I don't want the issue to arise because I want Ed to win." Mr Balls also revealed that his family made clothes out of curtains when they joined a Sound of Music tour in Salzburg last summer.

    Quote Message: You can do four-hour bicycle tours of all the Sound of Music sights. And we not only did it, we made headscarves and neckerchiefs out of an old curtain material, to fully commit to the role. from Ed Balls Shadow chancellor
    Ed BallsShadow chancellor
  45. #Vineonvine

    Jeremy Vine  posts on vine: More rehearsals as we warm up the BBC graphics  #Vineonvine#GE2015 ~I dream of green~

  46. Andy Bell, 5 News Political Editor



    Quote Message: Just saw pix of me sitting next to Joey Essex at Lib Dem presser this morning - reem #GE2015
  47. 'Other parties need to pledge mental health support'

    Mind, the mental health charity, has welcomed Nick Clegg's pledge to spend an extra £3.5bn on the issue over six years - and hopes other major parties will follow suit. Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: "One in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year, so every parliamentary candidate from every party needs to accept and embrace mental health as a key issue for their constituency."

    Quote Message: Poor mental health is becoming a national crisis. At a time when demand has never been greater, we know that severe cuts to mental health services, prolonged waiting times and a lack of choice in treatments are making things worse for people living with mental health problems. from Paul Farmer Mind
    Paul FarmerMind
  48. Who's that trip-trapping?

    Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says David Cameron is "a bit of a troll". In a wide-ranging interview for the Evening Standard, Mr Balls claimed "most Tories don't do nasty", but Mr Cameron "has made politics nastier". He said the PM "lashes out in a personal way", and is "not popular with women". "The way he talked to Nadine Dorries, and said 'Calm down dear' to Angela Eagle - it reflects something. David Cameron is a bit of a troll. Look at the Conservative Party and the way they operated on Twitter for the first half of the Parliament, they were very trolling, as in officially trolling. It was a reflection of David Cameron."

  49. Ladbrokes Politics



    Quote Message: Micky Ashcroft is 100/1 to be next Tory Leader @LordAshcroft
  50. Tim Montgomerie, Columnist for @TheTimes



    Quote Message: Good on my former boss, @LordAshcroft - others should follow his lead and retire from the Lords. I doubt many will
  51. Lord Ashcroft



    Quote Message: Retired Lords keep their title and can use the facilities of the House should they wish to.
  52. Mark Ferguson, Editor of @LabourList



    Quote Message: Lord Ashcroft quits the Lords. Right decision. But it’s an outdated anachronism. When 800 more resign i’ll get excited
  53. Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader



    @nick_clegg tweet
    Image caption: This is the sort of campaigning I like - a room full of people asking any question they wish to @JennyWillott and me
  54. Lord Ashcroft stands down as peer

    Lord Ashcroft

    Conservative Lord Ashcroft says he is standing down as a UK peer. In a statement, he said that Baroness D'Souza, the Lord Speaker, had mentioned that any Member of the House of Lords who can "no longer contribute meaningfully" should retire. She added that since the House has close to 800 members, "retirement at the right time should be seen as a condition of membership of the House of Lords - a duty as well as a right." 

    Quote Message: I agree with the Speaker, and have concluded that my other activities do not permit me to devote the time that membership of the Lords properly requires. Accordingly, I have today written to the Clerk of the Parliaments giving notice of my resignation from the House of Lords with immediate effect.... I will continue my involvement in politics through Lord Ashcroft Polls and my political publishing interests." from Lord Ashcroft
    Lord Ashcroft
  55. Joe Churcher, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent



    Quote Message: Lord Ashcroft is retiring from the House of Lords. Will many others take advantage of the new right to step down?
  56. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Alison, Scotland:

    SMS Message: Do they think it is fair that Scottish people who own a 2nd property are charged double Council Tax on the 2nd property while the Scottish non-payers of the 25 year old Poll Tax have had their debts written off? Why are these stealth taxes approved by Scot Gov for property owners while those who appear to hate any Westminster gov decisions are allowed off 'Scot Free' with their debts?
  57. What it's all about

    The Queen's proclamation calling for a new parliament

    Queen's proclamation
  58. Get involved


    Eric, Bradford

  59. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader:

    SMS Message: Both major parties say no increase in VAT rate but I have not heard them say they will not add VAT onto goods such as food, childrens clothes etc which are VAT free.
  60. Signing off

    It’s time for your early team of Alex Stevenson and Victoria King to wrap up after another alarmingly hectic day of campaigning. Surely they can’t keep up this pace for another 37 days? Here’s some of the things we’ve learned today:

    • The living standards debate is continuing to rage despite new positive economic figures (10.09 and 14.21)
    • Plaid Cymru will not prop up a government that supports the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons (09.26)
    • Nigel Farage does think immigration should be capped after all – his figure is, roughly speaking, 30,000 (12.35)
    • Joey Essex thinks Nick Clegg’s party is called the Liberal Democats – prompting an instant name change (11.43 and 15.33)
    • The prime minister thinks Harry Styles is the most attractive member of One Direction (06.51)

    There is much, much more actually – the only reasonable thing to do is to go back through every single post we’ve written today. And then carry on reading until midnight, of course, in the capable hands of Tim Fenton and Brian Wheeler.

  61. Paul Waugh, Editor of


    tweets a link to Daily Mail article :

    Quote Message: Camye? Hell yeah! Cameron proud of family link to KimK.
  62. Tory troubles

    Craig Oliver and David Cameron

    Not everyone, it’s fair to say, has been impressed by the Conservatives’ election campaign thus far. Writing in today’s Independent, Steve Richards says David Cameron would have been “taken aback” if he’d been told he’d be fighting this campaign the way he is. “Perhaps he is very slightly taken aback now, which is partly why he inadvertently spoke of his retirement, and performed awkwardly, during the Paxman interrogation,” he writes. Lobbyist Peter Bingle goes much further, attacking the Tories’ broader campaign as “terrible” and “shambolic” in a blog for Total Politics. “Not to win a majority against Gordon Brown was bad enough. Not to win a majority against Ed Miliband, a man who makes Michael Foot look normal, would be unforgivable.”

  63. BBC Daily Politics



    Quote Message: Will #GE2015 election campaign make any difference to voters?@EllieJPrice hears what some say in #bbcdp film:
  64. Chris Mason, BBC Political Correspondent



    Quote Message: How do you register to vote? @ArifBBC has this 2 minute video #ge2015:
  65. GDP and the economy

    There's been lots of economic news today. Here's the lead story written by our business colleagues, featuring analysis from Robert Peston.

  66. Steerpike, The Spectator



    Quote Message: Ed Balls gives speech in graveyard about Labour’s help for small business
  67. Cool cats?

    Chris Buckler, BBC reporter

    Liberal Democrat logo

    Election campaigns have a habit of flirting with celebrity... This one is proving to be no different. This morning the Liberal Democrats welcomed Joey Essex into their news conference with open arms. The reality TV star is apparently making a programme in which he learns about politics, and who better to teach him than the deputy prime minister? Although apparently he thought Nick Clegg had the title of 'the Commander' and was actually called 'Nick Leg'. Those mistakes rectified, they seemed to get on like a house on fire. What is more, in an interview with the BBC afterwards the always fashionable Joey Essex revealed that looks-wise Nick Clegg was "alright". For a politician that seems like quite an accolade from one of the perma-tanned stars of the 'Only Way is Essex'.

    Mr Clegg watched the video on board the party's battle bus and said it showed Joey to be "a man of taste". One thing did threaten this bromance though... Joey thought the Liberal Democrats were called the Liberal Demo-cats. However, the party have embraced this new view of politics. They've changed the party's name for the day on their website complete with a new feline logo.

    Joey might well view that as 'reem'... Whatever that means.

  68. Analysis: UKIP's immigration poster launch

    Alex Forsyth, BBC political reporter

    Nigel Farage poster launch

    Nigel Farage swept in and out of a blustery press call in the shadow of the white cliffs of Dover. The UKIP leader - helped along by a backdrop of party activists - unveiled a poster attacking the Conservatives' record on immigration, in response to which the Tories said UKIP’s policy was in “chaos”. An initially well-behaved press pack soon descended into a gentle scrum, with Mr Farage directed towards one camera than another for a series of interviews. He announced new target immigration figures, was challenged over his views on migrants with long-term illnesses and set an ambitious timeframe to get immigration down. Then time for a coffee – not a pint – in a local pub before Mr Farage was whisked away again. A picturesque media opportunity, but one that revealed little more about UKIP’s immigration policy other than the obvious fact it’s central to their campaign. The symbolic location, with the shadow of France on the horizon, was deliberately chosen by Team UKIP to keep Britain’s relationship with the continent at the forefront of people’s minds. Although – perhaps ironically – it also caused some mobile phones to switch to French networks in order to function.

  69. A pint of broadband

    Martha Lane Fox

    Politicians are getting away with awkward questions about the internet, Baroness Martha Lane Fox said in her Dimbleby lecture last night. "Politicians and business leaders are getting away with all this because you're not asking the tricky questions," she said. "No more about the price of milk - what about the price of broadband?" Our technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones has written a blog about the issue he suggests should be much, much higher up the political agenda as he asks: Will it be a tech election?

  70. How much tax does the UK pay?

    Daily Politics

    Live on BBC Two

    Mike Jakeman and Jo Coburn

    The UK state is "relatively large compared to the overall size of the economy" says Mike Jakeman, of the Economic Intelligence Unit. He was speaking to Jo Coburn on the Daily Politics about how Britain shaped up alongside other economies. Watch the interview

  71. 1,000 jobs a day?

    Reality Check

    Man looking at job vacancies

    David Cameron says the coalition has created 1,000 jobs a day since it took office in 2010, a total of 1.9 million jobs. Is this correct, asks Sebastian Chrispin?

    The first thing to note is that the best available figures relate to the number of people in employment, not the number of jobs. That’s important. Some people may have more than one job for example. And some statisticians say that you shouldn’t use employment as a measure of job creation.

    If you divide the increase in the number of people in work by the number of days this government has been in office, then you get an answer of roughly 1,066.

    This is, of course, just an illustration of how employment has increased. It is not an accurate reflection of when jobs have been created over the course of this parliament. Nor does it take into account unemployment figures.

  72. Eleanor Garnier, BBC political correspondent



    Quote Message: Guest appearance by @normanlamb #electioncountdownerer"
    Norman Lamb
  73. Marr on Paxman

    Ed Miliband and Jeremy Paxman

    Today’s papers feature some rather scathing comments from the BBC’s Andrew Marr, who wasn’t very impressed with Jeremy Paxman’s technique in last week’s Battle For Number 10 programme. The ex-Newsnight presenter’s approach is shaped by the fact he is a “genuinely tortured, angry individual”, Marr said. "He looks disdainful and contemptuous and furious with his guests because he by and large is. You can't fake these things on television,” he told an LSE audience. “No disrespect to Jeremy Paxman, but it would have been a lot more interesting had it been head-to-head.” Ed Miliband won audience applause in last week’s exchanges when he told Paxman: “Jeremy, you're important, but you're not that important.”

  74. Get involved


    Election Live reader:

  75. 'Not started well for three main parties'

    Andrew Neil

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Andrew Neil's morning report

    The Daily Politics' Andrew Neil thinks the campaign has "not started well" for the leaders of Westminster's three largest parties. Watch his daily report

  76. Matthew Holehouse, political correspondent, Daily Telegraph



    Quote Message: Clegg asked lib-lab coalition. "I take a pragmatic approach. It's not about my feelings, whims or wishes. It's about democracy."
  77. Bucket list

    Nick Clegg

    Nick Clegg is enjoying himself on the campaign trail at Panasonic in Pentwyn, busily attempting to destroy electronic products. “The thrill of just dropping a tablet into a bucket of water in your testing centre has been very exciting -I never thought I’d do that,” he tells reporters. Mr Clegg backs manufacturing as part of a broader British economy. “If you look at what’s happened over the last several years, things went horribly wrong in the run-up to the crash in 2008 precisely because we over-relied on one Square Mile,” he says. And then our feed goes down. Presumably because someone dropped it in a bucket of water.

  78. Jobs promise: Unions respond

    Frances O'Grady

    While the trade unions might be expected to welcome the prospect of two million more jobs by 2020, they're not impressed with such a pledge coming from the Conservatives:

    • TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady (above) says “savage spending cuts” will “suck demand out of the economy”, making it “hard to see” where those jobs will come from
    • GMB leader Paul Kenny says “Cameron’s claim completely lacks credibility”
    • Shopworkers’ union Usdaw’s leader John Hannett warns that the new jobs will have to “provide people with stability at work and a regular income”
    • Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, says the Tories' pledge is “total nonsense”
  79. In pictures: Pancake update

    Nick Clegg making a pancake
    Nick Clegg's pancake
  80. Labour tax rises

    Sky News

    Quote Message: The Labour Party has already announced £4bn or £5bn of tax increases. They've announced a £3bn tax increase on pensions, a £1bn tax increase in terms of the mansion tax and they've spent that already, so if they want to do more in terms of the deficit reduction from taxes they've got to do more on the tax side." from Paul Johnson Institute for Fiscal Studies
    Paul JohnsonInstitute for Fiscal Studies
  81. 'Flaky' tax avoidance promise

    Sky News

    The Conservative pledge to find an extra £5bn by tackling aggressive tax avoiders has been cast into doubt by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank. Its director, Paul Johnson, has told Sky News that number is “very flaky”. "Given the scale of spending cuts they'll otherwise require they must be at least thinking about tax rises," he added. This comes only a day after the IFS called Tory suggestions of a £3,000 tax hike under Labour "unhelpful".

  82. Robert Peston, BBC economics editor



    Quote Message: How much better off are British households compared with May 2010, after taxes, benefits, interest and inflation? Around 70p per week"
  83. Food banks promise

    Jim Murphy

    Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has pledged to end the need for food banks in Scotland, outlining plans for a £175m anti-poverty fund. “Nothing makes me angrier about the Tory government and its austerity policies, than the sight of children queueing for food hand-outs,” Mr Murphy says. “If it was not for the generosity of their fellow Scots, tens of thousands of people, including thousands of children, would be going hungry tonight."

  84. Analysis: Conservative health spending

    Chris Cook, Newsnight policy editor

    We've had a slightly muddling few days on Conservative health policy. Over the weekend, via a Sunday Times interview, Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, pledged to meet the budgetary demands made by Simon Stevens, the NHS chief executive. Mr Stevens said that, left unchanged, the NHS would need another £30bn by 2020. But he proposed that if the NHS were given £8bn a year by 2020, the NHS could reform itself, and keep running within that budget.

    But, on the Today programme this morning, David Cameron seemed sceptical about the financial commitment. It is worth checking Mr Hunt's small print to see why. Mr Hunt told the Sunday Times that the Stevens plan would be funded, although he noted: “The gap might be more than £8bn, it might be less”. The final figures would, Mr Hunt said, need to be checked over and would be finalised after the election.

    Fixing a sum for the NHS budget now would open further questions for the Tories. For example, what is going to happen with defence? What about social care? These are all pretty big areas of policies that are fighting over a tight budget.

    So what can we say with certainty? Not much, but I think it’s fair to assume that £8bn is a reasonable working estimate for now of what the Conservatives will end up putting in.

  85. Get involved


    The Rev Richard James, Harrogate, North Yorkshire:

  86. 'Bandying about'

    BBC News Channel

    Chris Leslie

    Chris Leslie, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, offers a moment of striking optimism about the political arts while being interviewed on the BBC News Channel. “You’ve got to expect this from politicians,” he says. “You’re going to get a lot of statistics bandied around.” He is not wrong. But actually this moment of striking openness is all for a political purpose, as he’s targeting the Conservatives’ triumphalism about the economy. “When you look at David Cameron’s pledge in that manifesto in 2010 he promised strong and sustained rises in living standards. Has he really fulfilled that? The answer is no.”

  87. Liberal Democrats



    Quote Message: Tory job plans are "totally meaningless" – they let company bosses fire workers at will
  88. Post update

    Reality Check

    Reality Check living standards card
  89. Post update

    An intriguing follow-up line from our correspondent Chris Buckler, who's with the Lib Dem leader. 

    Quote Message: Nick Clegg is in Panasonic now. And he's about to toss pancakes."

    George Osborne made pizza earlier so perhaps there's a theme developing. We'll keep you posted...

  90. Clegg on the telly

    From Chris Buckler, Lib Dem campaign correspondent

    Nick Clegg on the Lib Dem battle bus

    Here’s a bit more from Nick Clegg on his expectations ahead of this Thursday’s TV debate. The last time something like this happened, after all, the resulting "Cleggmania" helped the Lib Dems to a 23% vote share. "Last time nobody really knew who I was so I didn't have that much to lose,” he’s told journalists on the party’s battle bus. “But I've not much to lose this time." He said while there was a lot of froth around the debates, it wasn't a beauty contest and viewers would make up their own minds after listening to the discussion.

  91. Get involved


    Sam Marner, Sheffield:

  92. Post update

    Reality Check

    Reality Check living standards card
  93. Minority government

    BBC Radio 4

    If we end up with a hung parliament - and few now deny that is not a very strong possibility - there’s a chance we might end up with a minority government rather than another coalition. Such an administration could get quite a lot done, former civil service chief Sir Gus O’Donnell says. Foreign policy can be conducted, departmental budgets can be allocated “in various ways”. The only real headache is winning votes in the Commons. “What you can’t do is big tax or benefit changes, changes to regulations, things which require a change to the law,” he says. “But I stress there are lots of ways you can influence behaviour that aren’t necessarily about legislation. Having smaller amounts of legislation with a strong cross-party consensus might lead to better laws.”

  94. Get involved


    Jamie from Mold, Wales:

  95. Pic: Labour's Jim Murphy visits Edinburgh food bank

    Jim Murphy
  96. 'Rigging the referendum'

    BBC Radio 4

    Malcolm Bruce, the deputy Liberal Democrat leader, rejects UKIP’s claim that it would be wrong to deny EU citizens living in the UK a say in any EU in-or-out referendum. “If they’re resident in the UK they’re already on the electoral register and can vote in European elections, they can vote in devolved administration elections,” he tells The World at One. “In our view it’s perfectly right and proper they should be free to do so."

  97. EU referendum

    BBC Radio 4

    Who actually gets to vote in an in-out referendum on Europe? According to a newspaper report the Liberal Democrats might only support a poll in a renewed Tory-Lib Dem coalition if EU nationals living in the UK were enfranchised. This, unsurprisingly, has upset UKIP. “I think we’re seeing the lid lifted on the way establishment politics is done in this country,” Patrick O'Flynn tells The World at One. “They’re planning a rigged referendum.” Scroll down in our story on UKIP’sposter launch today for more details.

  98. Andrew Verity, BBC economics correspondent



    Quote Message: Population is now 64,724,000 (ONS) - two million more than when the Coaliton took power - helps explain growth, productivity, jobs data."
  99. Get involved


    Sri, Ilford, London:

  100. Jason Groves, deputy political editor, the Daily Mail



    Quote Message: Ukip's @oflynnmep urges Cameron to rule out Lib Dem calls for 16-year-olds and EU citizens living here to be given vote in EU referendum"
  101. Get involved


    James Nixon, Stafford:

  102. TV debate: Fun facts

    Seven main party leaders

    Here’s some more details on Thursday’s TV debate to whet your appetite.

    • There’ll be enough time for a “proper free flowing debate between the leaders” on four substantial topics
    • The politically balanced and demographically representative audience of 200 people has been chosen by polling company ICM
    • Around 20% of the audience will be "undecided" voters
    • The leaders will be on camera for two long, long hours with just one break to relieve… er… the tension.

    And there’s even more of this kind of thing on the ITV website.

  103. Get involved


    George, 15, Farnham:

  104. Principles and details

    BBC Radio 4

    The economic to-and-fro continues on The World at One, now focusing on the welfare budget. Why won’t the Conservatives provide more details? “We have been clear about the principles behind how we will find those savings,” Priti Patel says. It’s about making work pay, she insists. Shabana Mahmood says Labour will look at the link between the “overall health of the economy” and people’s living standards. Both parties have been criticised today for not being open enough about their spending cut plans.

  105. George Eaton, political editor, New Statesman



    Quote Message: Labour's decision to focus on business looks like pre-emptive attempt to limit damage from inevitable Tory-supporting letter."
  106. Talking up, talking down

    BBC Radio 4

    Treasury team
    Image caption: Priti Patel with the rest of the Treasury team on Budget day

    “It’s about working with businesses rather than lecturing businesses,” Conservative Treasury minister Priti Patel says on The World at One. Her Labour shadow, Shabana Mahmood, says “there is a difference between talking the economy down and telling it like it is”. She says figures from the last Autumn Statement showed that “people are simply not earning enough”.

  107. James Forsyth, The Spectator



    Quote Message: Will Trident come up on Thursday night? Will be interesting if it does with three of the leaders on stage committed to scrapping it
  108. Living standards debate

    BBC Radio 4

    Shabana Mahmood
    Image caption: Shabana Mahmood

    “People are not feeling the recovery that we’ve seen in the macro economy,” Labour’s Shabana Mahmood tells The World At One. She agrees with ComRes’ Andrew Hawkins that voter perceptions about the improving economy won’t resonate with voters. “The real problem the Conservatives have on the economy is not economic growth - it’s that too many people in the country outside London don’t feel the benefits,” he says. Treasury minister Priti Patel says it’s “deeply frustrating” that people are “talking down to the British public about the type of work they’re doing… it is not all zero hours”.

  109. 'Wilfully dishonest'

    Nigel Farage

    Speaking at his latest poster launch in Dover, Nigel Farage accused David Cameron of being "wilfully dishonest" when he promised to bring immigration down to the tens of thousands. Our full story here.

  110. Good news, bad news

    BBC Radio 4

    Andrew Hawkins, the ComRes pollster, is on BBC Radio 4's The World at One summing up the state of the economy.

    Quote Message: The good news on the economy is not going to do the people who’ve been running the economy for the last five years any harm, but when you ask undecided voters what they think are going to be the most important issues in the election, the economy at best comes third behind the NHS and immigration."
  111. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Zak, 20, Southampton:

    SMS Message: What a massive insult to the educated young classes by getting Joey Essex involved in politics - something he has no place in. Shame on the Lib Dems; that was a direct insult to our generation.
  112. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Lynne Whitehouse, Dartford:

    SMS Message: I have just heard that the Liberal Democrats are to spend more on Mental Health. We heard disturbing news that 4,000 psychiatric nurses have left our MH services. Please, can you throw some light on what you think the reasons are for this? I am a psychiatric nurse about to de-register (my mother needs full 24hr care).
  113. Extra toppings?

    George Osborne making pizza

    Chancellor George Osborne had a go at making pizza this morning in Hove - an American Hot to be precise. No, we're not sure why either, but it looks like he was concentrating hard.

  114. Austin Mitchell, Labour candidate



    Quote Message: Daily politics is asking - "Will the election make a big difference or no difference?" Daft question because it depends totally on who wins!
  115. Andy Burnham, Labour candidate



    Quote Message: Just been to yet another health hustings where @Jeremy_Hunt has failed to show up. I make that five so far. #LNS15
  116. 'Forget coalition,' says Wood

    Leanne Wood

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has insisted there is "no way" her party would "prop up" a Conservative government. She also told BBC2's Daily Politics it was "unlikely" Plaid Cymru would enter into a coalition with Labour unless it was prepared to abandon its pursuit of "further austerity" and the Trident programme.

    Quote Message: I wouldn't prop up a Tory government. Also I'm not prepared to prop up a Labour government pursuing Tory policies."
  117. Get involved


    Phil Brown, Lowestoft:

  118. More from Ed Balls

    Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna
    Quote Message: David Cameron's got a real problem because he's promised £10,000 of tax cuts and he can't tell us where the money's going to come from. He's promised £12 billion of welfare cuts, but can't tell us where he's going to cut. He knows he's got deep cuts in public spending and he can't tell us what that means for police and defence so he's lashing out. He's using Downing Street to make allegations yesterday which the Institute for Fiscal Studies made clear just didn't add up."
  119. Get involved


    Norman Robson, Tyne and Wear:

  120. BBC News website reader replies to another reader's earlier email


    Russell Bradley:

  121. Housing crisis

    Left Unity chose a squat in Soho in central London for its manifesto launch today to highlight what it calls the "terrible crisis" in housing, our reporter Nick Eardley says. Left Unity has 10 candidates standing on 7 May.

    Ken Loach at Left Unity launch
  122. Robin Brant

    UKIP campaign correspondent

    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage has insisted that net migration to the UK should fall to around 30,000 people a year, in spite of a pledge several weeks ago that UKIP did not believe in an "arbitrary target". The UKIP leader referred to the figure several times at an election poster launch in Dover. He insisted his party's policy wasn't confused after citing a figure of 50,000 several weeks ago. He said UKIP wanted to see a return to what he called "normality" when it came to immigration.

  123. Making it clear

    Reality Check

    Coming up on @BBCRealityCheck... who's right on living standards?

    Reality check card
  124. Nick Eardley, BBC political reporter



    Quote Message: Ken Loach says Left Unity is "against the logic of the market". It's failed "in every respect", he says "
  125. Pic: UKIP's latest poster

    UKIP poster
  126. Analysis

    Hugh Pym, BBC health editor

    Have chatted to a Lib Dem source on the breakdown of the £3.5 billion extra pledged for mental health. The key point is that it is spread over six years ( up to 2020/21) rather than the usual election commitment over five years of a parliament. The amount promised for the next parliament is £2.75 billion, including the £1.25 billion already announced by Nick Clegg and confirmed in the Budget. The Lib Dems argue that they have gone to the year after the next election because spending will have to be announced for that year at some stage over the next five years.

    These figures are for England and don’t include the so called Barnett consequentials (the extra amount which will be generated for the devolved administrations).

  127. Get involved


    Gill Rodgers:

  128. Nick Eardley, BBC politics reporter



    Quote Message: I'm in the unusual setting of a London squat for the manifesto launch of @LeftUnityUK - featuring director Ken Loach"
    Left Unity launch
  129. Pic: Patriotic PM

    David Cameron's Queen cufflinks
  130. 'Something positive'

    Carole Walker

    Conservative campaign correspondent

    David Cameron was at a shiny new digital centre at Sainsbury’s London HQ this morning to press home his theme of the day – the promise of two million more jobs by 2020. His upbeat message will please some in his party who want something positive to offer voters already weary of austerity.

    Of course it is companies like Sainsbury’s which create the jobs - not the government of the day. The Conservative argument is that their economic plans are making it happen, by reducing taxes on business, pushing ahead with infrastructure projects and changing the welfare system to try to get people off benefits and into work. Labour say many of the jobs are part-time, low-paid or zero hours contracts. The Tories claim only one in 50 are zero hours and three out of four jobs created since 2010 are full time.

    David Cameron undoubtedly has a good story to tell on jobs but he’s making it clear he won’t stop the attacks on Ed Miliband either, insisting that his warnings of the dire economic consequences of a Labour government are “absolutely right".

  131. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    MD, London:

    SMS Message: The Conservatives have played a blinder with the proposed Right to buy Policy for 2.5 million housing association tenants. This will give hard working families a chance to own a property with the discount acting as a deposit. This rewards hard work and will give many a foot up!
  132. Lib Dem health numbers

    Speaking in Watford, Nick Clegg has been restating his lines about the NHS and mental health. “The Liberal Democrats are the only party saying we’ll balance the books and balance them fairly,” he said. “At the same time invest in the public services and ensure that the NHS gets the £8bn that it needs.” His party is pledging an extra £3.5 billion on mental health. This is spread over six years, not the usual five. And as £1.25bn of it has already been announced, the new money announced only amounts to a further £2.75bn.

  133. More hi-vis

    Nick Clegg

    No hard hat this time, but Nick Clegg spent some of his morning on a visit to the construction site for the Watford Health Campus in Hertfordshire.

  134. #BBCAskThis

    Outgoing Conservative minister Francis Maude will face your questions on the BBC News Channel after 5pm today.

    Send your video questions using the #BBCAskThis hashtag, WhatsApp us on +44 7525 900 971, or send via text on 61124 (network charges may apply). Alternatively you can upload your videos here. More details are available here.

    Francis Maude
  135. 'A bit dishonest'

    BBC News Channel

    Jonathan Portes

    Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, says today’s figures on living standards “don’t change very much” about the basic facts of the economic recovery. He tells the BBC News Channel that he’s not very impressed by David Cameron’s refusal to spell out exactly where the Conservatives plan on making cuts. “You cannot have a long-term economic plan that talks about £12bn in benefit cuts and then not give any detail about how you’re going to deliver those cuts. That really is a bit dishonest,” he says. Mr Portes calls on Labour and the Liberal Democrats to spell out how they’re going to make public spending cuts, too.

  136. Cameron's last word

    TV debate speaking order grid

    It's OK - your head is allowed to spin a bit as you size up the latest details of Thursday's TV debate. Yesterday we learned the prime minister is going to be stuck on the end in the first televised debate. Now we’ve found out the speaking order for the two-hour ITV programme – and it sees the prime minister (who is podium seven) getting in the last word. Ed Miliband gets the final go at the opening statements. The speaking orders, as with the podium orders, were chosen randomly.


  137. Get involved


    Toby Forrest:

  138. Balls speech

    Ed Balls

    Ed Balls has been making a speech this morning outlining his party’s plan to cut business rates. He highlighted the fact that seven of the 3,500 children’s centres rolled out by New Labour are shutting this morning in Swindon, where he’s speaking. And he’s taken the fight to the Conservatives over the economy, despite today’s news about living standards rising above 2010 levels. “The choice is this: we have David Cameron and George Osborne saying ‘let’s carry on as we are, let’s stick to the plan’. They’re telling people you’ve never had it so good, just let us get on with the job... this is a government that has failed to balance the books despite their promises… if that is as good as it gets then we need change and a better future for our country.”