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Summary

  1. Labour leader Ed Miliband sets out his plans for business in a speech in the West Midlands
  2. Mr Miliband says his party will guarantee an apprenticeship to every school leaver in England who gets suitable grades
  3. Debate continues after Ed Balls suggests people should get a written receipt for all transactions, even small gardening jobs
  4. Universal credit is rolled-out to 150 Jobcentres in the UK
  5. There are 80 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Tim Fenton and Tom Moseley

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Goodnight

It's time to bring the curtain down on today's live coverage, and who said half term and recess would keep our politicians quiet? They feature strongly in most of tomorrow's front pages, after a day starring

Ed Miliband on apprenticeships, Iain Duncan Smith on welfare,
Ed Balls on hedge-cutting - and Ant and Dec. Join us from 06:00 on Tuesday for guaranteed thrills and spills - and that's just the charity
Parliamentary pancake race. We're also expecting a speech by David Cameron on jobless benefits for young people as well as the latest inflation figures.

Paper review

Reviewing tomorrow's newspapers on the BBC News Channel, James Lyons of the Sunday Times previews David Cameron's anticipated announcement on welfare changes. He says the PM will expect the crackdown to be popular with voters tempted by UKIP. Torcuil Crichton, Westminster correspondent of the Daily Record, says: "It's welfare week for the Tories, which means hammering welfare".

Big Brother champ on Balls

Amid the

debate sparked by today's call by Ed Balls for people to ask for receipts for any household work they have done, Newsnight turned to builder and one-time Big Brother winner Craig Phillips for analysis. "It's probably how it should be, everyone should pay the right level of taxes and if everyone's giving out a receipt for the work that they have done it kind of justifies that," he says.

Craig Phillips
BBC

The Scotsman front page

Scotsman front page
Scotsman

'End ads in children's games'

Online games designed to promote junk food and drink to children should be stopped according to a senior member of Labour's Progress group. London Assembly Member and GP, Onkar Sahota, says the games are designed to create an association between the product and enjoyment. Earlier this month, the industry's own advisory body, the Committee of Advertising Practice, warned advertisers to review their online marketing to children to check that it was obviously identifiable as advertising.

Independent front page

Independent front page
Independent

The Times front page

The Times
The Times

The Sun

Here's tomorrow's Sun front page:

The Sun front page
The Sun

Daily Mail front page

Daily Mail front page
Daily Mail

Daily Mirror front page

Mirror front page
Mirror

Guardian front page

Guardian
Guardian

Turning the clock back

As parties pour resources into their social media election campaigns,

Buzzfeed has been taking a look back at their online offerings from 1996, and it all looks rather different. "I hope you enjoy surfing our pages," writes John Major.

Telegraph front page

TELEGRAPH
TELEGRAPH

Financial Times

The first of Tuesday's front pages are coming in, and the FT leads with the collapse of the Greek finance talks.

FT
Financial Times

Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

@Nigel_Farage

tweets: Look like #100DaysOfUKIP may well have backfired on Channel 4. A biased, partisan depiction of the only party that Believes in Britain.

The Daily Telegraph

For columnist Iain Martin, Ant and Dec's comments about the forthcoming election are bad news for Labour. While Ant told the Times said he was disillusioned with the coalition, Dec said he struggled to picture Ed Miliband as PM. Although millions of voters will not "take their cue directly" from the Geordie duo, they "have a gift for articulating what millions of people are thinking",

Martin writes.

Miliband 'fails to surprise'

Janan Ganesh, The Financial Times

The British people reached a verdict on Ed Miliband in 2010 and it's not going to change, according to

Janan Ganesh.

Lib Dem manifesto

Lib Dem commentator Mark Pack

has been comparing the front page of the party's election manifesto, published last week, to those from previous campaigns. He concludes that "just as voters are wise not to rest too much hope on politicians, so too political activists are wise not to rest too much hope on manifesto front pages".

UKIP drama 'under fire'

The Guardian

Channel 4's drama-documentary set in the aftermath of a UKIP election win has attracted complaints even before its showing tonight at 21:00 GMT, says

the Guardian.

Big Issue

In the latest edition of the Big Issue, out today, former Conservative chairwoman Baroness Warsi writes a letter to her younger self, saying she has been, in the past, "far too blunt and honest and open". The Tory peer, who quit the government over its handling of the Gaza conflict, says she probably still doesn't understand "the game-playing of politics".

Baroness Warsi
PA

Monday so far

The working day is done for most but the Politics Live team (almost) never sleeps. Even on a relatively quiet, half-term day there have been plenty of clues as to who's where and why in the race to Number 10. Here are some of today's talking points:

  • Ed Miliband
    launched Labour's industrial strategy in Wolverhampton, guaranteeing apprenticeships for every school leaver who "gets the grades"
  • Iain Duncan Smith defended his welfare reforms as
    universal credit began its phased rollout
  • A Guardian poll by ICM suggested a 6% jump in Tory support, giving them a 4% lead over Labour. A few hours later, Tory peer Lord Ashcroft's latest weekly poll put the Conservatives on 30% and Labour on 31%
  • A
    TV clip of a youthful George Osborne advising consideration of some "clever financial products" to avoid tax resurfaced on social media

Stay with us for more updates, including a first look at tomorrow's papers plus reaction to Channel Four's drama-documentary about a UKIP election win.

Tom Clarke, The Guardian

@guardian_clark

tweets: Those who suspect opinion polls rigged for political reasons shd learn from today: Gdn has Tories cleaning up; Ashcroft Labour ahead!

Andrew Neil, BBC presenter

@afneil

tweets: EuroZone: "There should be an unequivocal agreement by Greece to honour its obligations".

Olympian or MP?

How desirable is the job of an MP?

Research from YouGov has drawn the perhaps-surprising conclusion that it is as attractive as being an Olympic athlete or a Hollywood movie star.

Jess Ennis
PA

Greek talks collapse

Talks between Greece and European finance ministers have

collapsed early after Greece rejected the EU's opening bailout offer as 'absurd'. They were meeting in Brussels to try and reach a new deal on Greece's bailout, which it wants restructured.

Snuff to stay

Away from the election trail - the House of Commons authorities say that snuff distributed free of charge to MPs is here to stay. The BBC's Inside the Commons documentary suggested that "until recently" the powdered tobacco had been offered, but in

response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Commons Commission said: "Snuff is available and there is no intention to cease its provision."

Houses of Parliament
PA

Mark Denten, BBC political correspondent

@bbcmarkdenten

tweets (x3): Durham NW elec line up will look different in May. Cllr Watts Stelling who stood as independent at last 2elections not standing. Watts Stelling picked up 2,472 votes in 2010 and nearly 4,000 votes in 2005. Candidates declared so far for Durham NW Labours's @PatGlassMP Greens Mark Shilcock and Lib Dems Owen Temple

Cameron offers sympathy to Coptic Christians

The prime minster has offered his "deepest sympathies" to the Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain. Mr Cameron's call followed the murder of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya by militants expressing support for Islamic State. According to a Downing Street spokeswoman, Mr Cameron told Bishop Angaelos the UK would continue to do all it could to tackle the militants internationally and to prevent their singling out of religious groups.

Apprenticeships pledge

Labour's shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has been on BBC News promoting Labour's

policy pledge on apprenticeships. He said behind the headline figures on apprentice starts there was "not such a rosy picture". BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins said both Labour and the Conservatives agreed on the need for more apprenticeships, and were competing to sound like the main authority on the subject.

Chuka Umunna
BBC

Government business site not "woman-friendly"

Too many union flags are putting women off a government business advice website, according to a new report. Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt, the government's ambassador for women in enterprise, wants changes to the

Great Business site to encourage more use by women. "This branding is seen as not 'woman-friendly'", she says. "The proliferation of union flags, for example, has been compared to a military recruitment site."

Great Business web site
BBC

Cameron offers support to Danish PM

David Cameron has spoken to his Danish counterpart following the weekend shootings in Copenhagen. Mr Cameron offered Helle Thorning-Schmidt his condolences. A Downing Street spokeswoman said the pair agreed that the shootings reinforced the case for even closer international cooperation to tackle terrorism, including cracking down on the trafficking of illegal firearms and more exchanging of passenger name records.

Osborne advice on tax avoidance resurfaces

A 2003 appearance on the BBC's Daily Politics by George Osborne is doing the rounds on social media. Mr Osborne suggests a caller to the programme investigates some "pretty clever financial products". The clip comes about 30 seconds into this

highlights' selection.

George Osborne
BBC

Party leaders' ratings fall - Ashcroft

This afternoon's

new poll from Lord Ashcroft is the first to test leaders' personal ratings since November. All have lost support. David Cameron is down four to -6% among all voters. Ed Miliband is down fractionally to -15%. Nick Clegg falls three to -19%. Nigel Farage is down six to -28%. David Cameron remains the only leader getting higher scores than his party.

Firefighter strike

In other news, the Fire Brigades Union has just

announced another 24-hour strike on 25 February in its long-running dispute with the government over changes to pensions.

Striking firefighters
PA

'Ambitious targets'

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has issued a reaction to Ed Miliband's

pledge of apprenticeships for every school leaver who "gets the grades". Peter Finegold, the institution's head of education, broadly supported the principles but urged all parties "to resist the temptation to offer ambitious targets at the expense of quality".

Apprentices
PA

Tax row not a winner - Ashcroft

Labour hold steady on 31% but the Conservatives have slipped 4% to 30%, according to the

latest poll from Lord Ashcroft. The former Conservative Party treasurer, who's been forced to defend his own tax-paying record in the past, suggests voters may have found last week's exchanges between Ed Miliband and David Cameron over party donors and their tax arrangements an "unappetising spectacle". The poll suggests UKIP and the Greens have both gained 2% while the Lib Dems remain on 9%.

Recap: From Ed and Chuka to Ant and Dec

It's time for a team reshuffle on the Politics Live desk, as Nick Eardley and Alex Stevenson step aside to make way for our evening team of Tom Moseley and Tim Fenton. Which is as good a moment as any for a recap of where we stand in mid-afternoon:

  • Ed Miliband
    launched Labour's industrial strategy in Wolverhampton, guaranteeing apprenticeships for every school leaver who "gets the grades"
  • The focus on tax evasion and avoidance has continued, with Chuka Umunna and Ed Balls
    attracting attention for their views on whether ordinary people should require receipts for jobs around the home
  • Ant and Dec, formerly strong Labour supporters, have admitted they are struggling to decide whether they can back Ed Miliband this year
  • A Guardian poll by ICM has seen Tory support jump up by 6%, giving them a four-point advantage over Labour
  • Iain Duncan Smith has been defending his welfare reforms, as
    universal credit began its phased rollout today

Without needing to hedge our bets in any way we can say Tom and Tim will continue to provide you with riveting updates as the campaign countdown continues this evening. And they won't even ask you for a receipt.

New poll

Lord Ashcroft's latest

poll puts the Conservatives on 30%, Labour on 31%, the Lib Dems on 9%, UKIP on 16% and the Greens on 8%. The equivalent poll last week gave the Tories a 3% lead over Labour. The former Conservative Party treasurer earlier tweeted that today's ICM poll for the Guardian putting the Tories four points ahead appeared to be an "outlier".

Lord Ashcroft, former Conservative Party treasurer

@LordAshcroft

Tweets: Guardian/ICM poll CON 36% LAB 32% UKIP 9% LDEM 10% GRNS 7% appears to be an outlier.

Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central

@GavinBarwellMP

tweets: Moving service to celebrate life of Gerry Ryan, my opponent at last Election. A good man & a credit to the Labour movement. Rest in peace