Thursday, 30 April 2015

It's all about the brand..

Tonight the party leaders get their last big moment in front of the cameras to take their message to voters as part of the BBC's "Question Time" series of Q&As. David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg will each take on the studio audience, which Chris Hope reports will be up to two thirds left wing, with it all presided over by David Dimbleby. Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood will all have their own Q&As, although Green leader Natalie Bennett will miss out.  

The Conservatives have a spring in their step, with David Cameron telling the Guardian that he's sure his party "will get there", and that it's time "to turn up the dial". The Sun has also backed the party, splashing on its front page "It's a Tory!" (complete with the slightly terrifying image of a baby-sized PM in Kate Middleton's arms). However, the Tories are under pressure on the detail. Former chancellor Lord Lawson has rebuked his party, telling the Spectator that "the Tories have been mistaken in making a flurry of promises, many of them either expensive or unwise or both, which has detracted from their central message of economic recovery based on careful stewardship". 

Labour may feel happy after a new poll found that the party could take 40 key Conservative-held seats, and Ed Miliband survived his interview with Russell Brand, with the cod-Dickensian spouting comedian praising him for "understanding how the country feels". Miliband has also been chided by the New Statesman magazine for his "severe limitations and strategic weaknesses", while he faces growing concern among his troops after a poll suggested the SNP will win every seat in Scotland, in what could be called the "Ajockalypse". 

Nigel Farage is fighting on after a Lord Ashcroft poll suggested he would fail to win in South Thanet. In his defence, the poll does not give his name, so voters who might back a "famous" candidate on the day are excluded. The Ukip leader has been furiously trying to manage expectations about the campaign in a bid to ensure voters turn out on polling day. He told the Telegraph last week that he had something "special" planned on the day, and I've heard it could involve a tank. "It's an open secret", a local activist insisted to me. Farage has previously posed on a tank, and likes to speak of parking "tanks" on other parties' "lawns", so the idea isn't far-fetched for the General of the "People's Army". The local blog Thanet Watch reports this too, but Ukip spinners remain coy - perhaps for fear of seeming complacent about victory. 

The election may be only a week away, but as Lenny Kravitz would say, it ain't over 'til it's over. The Daily Mail has splashed on a poll finding that 40% of voters have still not decided, suggesting 10 million votes are still up for grabs. As tonight's Question Time marathon nears, the party leaders will go all out to convince as many viewers as they can. 


David Cameron has suggested Boris Johnson would make a good prime minister by praising the idea of city mayors going on to lead their countries, Ben Riley-Smith reports. The Prime Minister said Johnson would get a role "at the highest level" in his government if the Tories keep power after the election and hinted he could be given an infrastructure brief. Meanwhile, the London Mayor has given an interview to the Spectator in which he set out his optimistic vision for the party, and said the wealth gap "has been allowed to get too big". 


The Liberal Democrats have lifted the lid on what they described as secret Conservative plans to cut child benefit and child tax which Nick Clegg's party claims to have vetoed during the Coalition, Rosa Prince reports. In a major breach of the secrecy surrounding the meetings between the parties during the Coalition era, Danny Alexander, who served as Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, claims proposals to slash the benefit were brought to the "quad" – the meeting where policy was agreed – in 2012.


Labour was wrong to bring in 24 hour drinking, the party's health spokesman Andy Burnham has said. The shadow health secretary, who was culture secretary in the Gordon Brown's Government in 2008 was in charge of the policy, admitted that it had been a "mistake" in a BBC debate. Read more here.


A "well groomed" pensioner has placed a £30,000 bet on the Conservatives winning a majority in the general election after walking into a betting shop with the money in his jacket pocket, Auslan Cramb. The anonymous gambler, who is believed to be a former accountant, asked what the odds were in a Ladbrokes branch in Hope Street, Glasgow, and after being told they were 7/1 he produced the money in crisp £50 notes.


Ukip MEP David Coburn has been indefinitely banned from Wikipedia after attempting to alter an article about himself 69 times in six days. Coburn told the Guardian he had directed one of his staff to make the changes in order to clear the page of "garbage" and "nonsense", adding: "I'm sure its all wee cybernats who've got nothing better to do with their time and they should actually be out getting a job."


Wondering who will win your constituency at the general election on May 7? You don't have to wait. We can tell you what will happen in every seat in England, Scotland and Wales -- or at least, offer you a very well-educated guess. Check out our excellent map here. I've also rounded up 10 prospective new MPs who look like they'll be elected, no matter what


Ever wanted to see Ed Balls' animal impressions? He has showed off his impressive range, including an imitation of a duck, a pig and even a giraffe ("chomp, chomp, chomp"). MailOnline's Matt Chorley has the video. He also told him in an interview that Labour could still work with the Lib Demsin the event of a hung parliament, and would resist the "siren voices" of the SNP. 


Britain could be forced to take a set of numbers of refugees from Africa to deal with the escalating migration crisis, the head of the European Commission has said. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission's president, suggested that unless Europe's leaders decided to "open the door" the migrants could try to "break in through the window". Chris Hope has more


The Tories have come under fire from statistics watchdog Sir Andrew Dilnot for using unpublished Treasury figures to support their claims working families were better off due to changes introduced by the government, PoliticsHome's Sebastian Whale reports


Who's going to win the 2015 general election? What sort of coalition, if we get a hung parliament, will emerge? According to the betting markets, the chances of the various outcomes, as implied by the latest odds from Betfair, are as follows: Lab minority: 35.7% - Con minority: 15.4% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 19.3% - Con majority: 9.9% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 9% - Any other government/coalition: 8.6% - Lab majority: 0.9% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.3%.


The diaries of former health minister Andrew Lansley in the run-up to his controversial 2011 health service reforms have been ordered to be released by a High Court judge, the Times' Frances Gibb reports. One Cabinet minister privately told the newspaper last year that the controversial reforms, which involved GPs taking control of 80 per cent of the NHS budget — some £80 billion a year — and commissioning services, was "our worst mistake".


"I'm afraid that there is no money," an outgoing Labour minister wrote in 2010 for his future successor. David Laws, the Liberal Democrat who found the note, thought initially it was an "interesting snippet", but five years on it's still haunting Labour's campaign. BuzzFeed's Emily Ashton has a nice run-through of the history of the most awkward letter Liam Byrne has ever written.


Not sure who to vote for yet? The election is less than two weeks away, but you can use our quick and easy Vote Match app to help you find the party that best matches your views. The results may surprise you...


Average of polls as of Tuesday, April 28: Lab: 33.9%, Conservative: 33.8%, UKIP 13.2%, Lib Dem 8.2%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB. 


@MattForde: Brand/Ed M very disappointing.Looks like the end of a dinner party when the drunkest person at the table tries to embarrass the cleverest.


From The Telegraph

Allister Heath - Balance implies stability - but in this election it means disaster

James Kirkup - Ed Miliband took a risk meeting with Russell Brand. He may very well be rewarded

From elsewhere

Michael Collins - There are real risks for the SNP in supporting a minority Labour government

Martin Wolf - The British economy after the coalition


09:00 Nick Clegg with Nick Ferrari for LBC Election Call-in 

11:00 Ukip press conference on "shared culture, shared language".

17:45 Former Liberal Party president Des Wilson on Share Radio about "the worst election campaign" he can ever remember.

19:30 Nicola Sturgeon, Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett feature in a special edition of 'Tonight' on ITV

20:00 Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband take part in a BBC Question Time question and answer programme 

21:30 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes part in a BBC question and answer programme broadcast in Scotland only 

22:40 Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood takes part in a BBC question and answer programme broadcast in Wales only 

22:40 ITV The Agenda with Tom Bradby, guests including: UKIP's first elected MP Douglas Carswell, Sunday Times columnist Camilla Cavendish, broadcast presenter Nick Hewer and novelist Jeanette Winterson.

22:50 UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage takes part in a BBC question and answer programme broadcast in England only 


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