David Cameron is meeting with the Queen today to mark the formal start of the general election campaign, but you might say that the campaign has been going since 2010. The Tory leader will then warn that families face a £3,000 tax bombshell if Ed Miliband gets into Downing Street, echoing tactics used by the Conservatives in 1992, when the party won the general election by accusing Neil Kinnock of plotting a "tax bombshell".
Meanwhile, Ed Miliband is trying to align Labour with the business community as he prepares to lead his front bench at the launch of the party's "business manifesto". Labour is going after the Conservatives' EU referendum pledge, taking out page 7 of the Financial Times as an advert to push their key message that "the biggest risk to British business is the threat of an EU exit".
However, this carefully planned charm offensive has been undermined by one of Labour's biggest donors, Dr Assem Allam, rising up to praise the Conservatives as the "best party in Europe" to manage the economy. Speaking to the Telegraph, the Hull City football club owner, who has given the party £400,000, accused Miliband of wanting to "penalise" business leaders, branded his central election pitch "communism", and compared some of his flagship economic policies to those of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. John Cridland, head of the Confederation of British Industry, told the Today programme this morning that Miliband's "polices on markets have raised some concern in the business community".
Labour's most popular message for business remains their commitment to stay in the European Union, while the Conservatives highlight their penchant for tax cuts and slashing red tape. Tony Blair, who knows a thing or two about winning elections, has tried to teach Labour the importance of wooing business, writing in his memoirs that they lost the 2010 general election as "tellingly, we lost business". He went on: "If... chief executives say it is Labour that will put the economy at risk, who does the voter believe? Answer: the chief executives. Once you lose them, you lose more than a few votes. You lose your economic credibility".
However, a survey by Populus last year for the FT found that 44% of voters said they would be more likely to support a party that was tougher on big business, with those demanding action including 50% of Tory supporters, 63% of Liberal Democrats, 67% of Ukip backers and 72% of Labour supporters.
Miliband hopes that voters look past the criticism from business leaders, but with Labour still neck-and-neck with the Tories, the party is failing to set out a compelling alternative.
MAKING YOUR MIND UP
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TO THE LEFT, TO THE LEFT
Nick Clegg's general election campaign had a stuttering start when the Liberal Democrat leader's bus appeared to have trouble turning around on narrow roads in Oxfordshire, Chris Hope reports. Mr Clegg was unveiling the party's distinctive canary yellow battle bus, which he is expected to use the bus to meet LibDem supporters as he criss-crosses the country in the general election campaign over the next seven weeks. MailOnline's Matt Chorley compared the scene to Alan Partridge riding around in his mobile radio.
Ignoring defence issues ahead of the general election is "wrong, complacent and dangerous", the former head of the Army says, as he calls on David Cameron to commit to spending 2 per cent of GDP on the military. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, General Sir Richard Dannatt, warns that Tory voters could switch their allegiance to the UK Independence Party because of Nigel Farage's commitment to defence spending.
NO TIME FOR GOGGLEBOX
Nigel Farage says that he is too busy running the UK Independence Party to watch television programmes or read books. Speaking to the Observer, the Ukip leader also discussed his mother Barbara Stevens, who he said was "quite a character". Last year she was photographed posing half-naked in a Women's Institute calendar.
OCH AYE, THE NEWS!
Alex Salmond has issued an extraordinary demand for control over the BBC in Scotland to be transferred to Edinburgh so its political coverage can be made more favourable to the SNP, Simon Johnson reports. The former First Minister told the party conference in Glasgow that BBC Scotland must be devolved to Holyrood so that its supposed anti-Nationalist bias can be "resolved". Meanwhile, Boris Johnson argues in today's Telegraph that Salmond would "run rings around Miliband" as an MP and that any Labour-SNP coalition would result in the "Scottish tail wagging the English dog".
NICOLA, QUEEN OF SCOTS
How have Alex Salmond's recent interventions left his successor, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, feeling? Speaking to BuzzFeed's Jamie Ross, she reveals what she thinks, and talks of how her party will have a "very significant" role to play if "weak" Ed Miliband becomes prime minister. She also thinks Irn Bru is "good in moderation".
THE INTERNET IS FOR...
Labour MP Simon Danczuk has admitted that he watches pornography. Mr Danczuk, whose wife Karen has been find of posting photos of herself online, admitted to radio station Key 2 in Manchester that his phone had tagged as a "favourite" a hard-core porn site on Twitter.
THE QUIET MAN (UNHELPFULLY) TURNS UP THE VOLUME
David Cameron will not serve a full second term as Prime Minister if he wins the General Election, one of his senior Cabinet ministers has claimed. Iain Duncan Smith, one of Mr Cameron's predecessors as Tory leader, said that Mr Cameron would stand down as Prime Minister before the 2020 election. Here are more details.
One of Ed Miliband's key elections chiefs has admitted that Labour will borrow more if the party wins the general election in May. The admission from Lucy Powell came after the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the party would have borrowing of up to £30 billion by 2020 - when the Tories aim to be running a surplus of £7 billion. Read more here.
STORM IN A MUG
Ed Miliband is under attack from one of his senior backbenchers for his "shameful" immigration policy, Chris Hope reports. Diane Abbott, who lost out to Mr Miliband in the party's 2010 leadership contest, attacked the party's pledge to control immigration if it wins power in May's general election.
THE DAMNED UTD
Is Ed Miliband as weak as critics say he is? Would Labour have been better off with his brother as leader? Keiran Pedley discusses this and more for the latest Polling Matters podcast with Tim Bale. Professor Bale, from Queen Mary Univeristy, argues that Bale, a Queen Mary University academic, has largely done a good job of keeping the party united following election defeat in 2010.
Average of polls as of Sunday, March 29: Lab: 33.6%, Conservative: 33.1%, UKIP 14%, Lib Dem 8.2%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB.
TOO MANY TWEETS…
@FaisalIslam: Captain Chaos on election campaign. 1. Cameron attacks Labour chaos on econ/ tax 2. Miliband attacks Conservative chaos on Europe/leadership
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