David Cameron, fresh from telling voters how "pumped up" he feels, has reason to feel perky today after a swathe of polling suggests the Conservative campaign is picking up steam, its recent offensive on Labour and the SNP is paying off, and that Ed Miliband's party will suffer dearly at the hands of the Scottish Nationalists.
As the campaign enters its last full week, a poll by ICM for the Guardian newspaper put the Tories on 35%, three points ahead of Labour. Another poll by Lord Ashcroft put the Tories on 36 per cent of the vote, six ahead of Labour, which we have reported on today's front page. The findings may provide, as Lord Ashcroft likes to say, "a snapshot, not a prediction", but polls have tended in the past to underestimate Conservative support, so Tory nerves will be calmed.
The outlook for Labour isn't quite as rosy. US analyst Nate Silver, who correctly predicted the outcome of the last two US presidential elections, forecast that the SNP would win 48 seats. A TNS survey suggested Labour will lose 40 seats in Scotland, and be left with just one, with the Scottish Nationalists getting 57 out of 59 seats. Meanwhile, the Independent leads on a survey by the pollsters ORBwhich found that the prospect of a post-election deal between Labour and the SNP made one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband's party, which will encourage the Conservatives after their outspoken attacks on the idea over recent days.
The Prime Minister has thrown himself into campaigning with verve in a bid to rebut critics who said he lacked passion. His performance yesterday, going on about how speaking to entrepreneurs "pumps me up", grabbed plenty of attention. "He was shouting so loudly I practically had to hang on to my hair to stop it from blowing clean off my scalp," said our sketchwriter Michael Deacon. "If I'm getting lively, it's because I feel bloody lively," the Tory leader said. "I really feel so passionate about this election".
Dave's new-found panache has gone down well with the Tory troops, with one candidate telling me: "I'm glad he's giving it a bit more oomph". Lord Bell, Margaret Thatcher's former PR guru, told LBC radio: "He is now showing a lot of enthusiasm, and that's very good. I would have done it a bit earlier." It's tempting to compare the "pumped up" PM to Ed Miliband's "Hell Yeah" moment. The sudden passion stood out, but how will floating voters take it?
Speaking to the Times, Cameron indicated that his own future as Tory leader is at risk if he fails to win a majority, something few believe will happen (Betfair give it a less than 10% chance of occurring). "Not winning the election outright is obviously not a success," he told the newspaper. Clearly he'll have to stay - in his words - "bloody lively" in order to survive after May 7.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said Ed Miliband was bullied by the Tories into ruling out a post-election deal with her party. The Scottish Nationalist leader, deciding to bully Miliband in turn, made the comment in an interview with the BBC's Evan Davis. This comes after Miliband stressed at the weekend that there would be "no coalitions, no tie-ins and no deals" with the SNP. Speaking earlier to the BBC's Eddie Mair, she insisted that she, not Alex Salmond, was the sole leader of the party, and that the SNP has no "backseat driver".
NO ED FOR TOP BANTS
Style entrepreneur Lydia Bright, star of the perma-tanned reality show The Only Way Is Essex, got Ed Miliband to reveal he'd be "quite a boring night out". Her chat with the Labour leader, reported by Cosmopolitan, came as part of the @useyourvoice campaign. The Labour leader also admitted he couldn't think of anyone he'd choose to save beyond family and friends if the world was about to come to an end.
THROW THE BOOKY-WOOK AT HIM
Ed Miliband has been seen leaving the London recording studios and home of Russell Brand on Monday night. A Labour spokesman said Miliband went to film an interview, although the visit has already prompted speculation as to whether the comedian is preparing to endorse the Labour leader. Brand has more than 9.5 million followers on Twitter, runs his own YouTube channel, The Trews, and has infamously urged his followers not to vote.
WHITE VAN DAN'S BLUE FLAG
Dan Ware, the man whose house - showing off three England flags - was snapped by Labour MP Emily Thornberry in a now infamous tweet from Rochester, has revealed he is backing David Cameron, and wants Ukip voters to do the same. Ware, who has been dubbed "White Van Dan" told the Sun: "A vote for Ukip is wasted. They won't win power. And I wouldn't trust Labour to take care of my business."
With 650 seats in the House of Commons, a government needs the support of 323 MPs to have a practical working majority. So which parties will have the combined number of seats needed to form a formal coalition after this general election? And how do their policies compare? Here's our excellent tool that lets you see what possible governments could be made.
The polls can seem confusing, with pollsters who survey voters over the phone like ICM and ComRes recently giving the Conservatives as much as a six point lead. However, online pollsters like YouGov and Populus put the main parties neck and neck, or even give Labour a small lead. How can phone and online polls find such different results? Keiran Padley sheds light on this with his latest Polling Matters podcast, discussing the issue with YouGov's Laurence Janta-Lipinski and ncpolitics.uk's Matt Singh.
DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS (A CAM MUST GO)
David Cameron proposed to his wife while watching Mean Streets, the 1973 gangster movie set in New York's Little Italy. "It was rather an odd proposal," Cameron told Nick Ferrari in a Classic FM interview. He also revealed his softer side, admitting that he does cry when he watches the Sound of Music. This comes after Ed Balls revealed the film also makes him cry.
APPRENTICESHIPS? BANK ON ME
A Conservative government would use fines imposed on Deutsche Bank for its involvement in the rate-fixing scandal to fund 50,000 apprenticeships, David Cameron will announce later today.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
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 possible outcomes (taken from Betfair): Lab minority: 37% - Con minority: 14.2% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 20.2% - Con majority: 9.4% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 9% - Any other government/coalition: 7.3% - Lab majority: 1.7% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.2%.
CLEGG'S NEW PLEDGES
The Liberal Democrats issued their first "red line" post-election demand as they said they would only enter a coalition government which sharply increased education spending, the Independent's Nigel Morris reports. The party has also announced another "red line" for future coalition talks - a "stability budget" that would force Labour and the Tories to spell out more detail on their economic plans.
MAKING YOUR MIND UP
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 Sunday, April 26: Lab: 33.6%, Conservative: 33.5%, UKIP 13.5%, Lib Dem 8.3%, Green 5.3%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB.
TOO MANY TWEETS...
@LukeMcGee: Went for dinner with Ed Miliband.He ordered a seafood platter & started sharing it out. Asked what he was doing: "Redistributing the whelks"
From The Telegraph
Danny Dorling - Only one lucky generation ever struck housing gold
Lord Sterling and Nick Butler - We ignore national security at our peril
Suzanne Moore - I'm sick of this estate agent election
Peter Bingle - Ukip expected to break through in 2015 but this election looks like Nigel Farage's last hurrah
08:30 Ukip Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans and Economy Spokesman Patrick O'Flynn will host a press briefing on Tax and the Economy
09:30 A preliminary estimate of GDP growth in the first quarter of 2014 is to be published by the Office for National Statistics
09:50 David Cameron makes speech on apprenticeships
10.00 The Institute for Fiscal Studies is to release analysis of Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and SNP tax and benefits plans
14:00 'Daily Politics Election Debates' on BBC Two continue with defence
Ed Miliband makes a speech on immigration
Nick Clegg speaks about education
Five years since Gordon Brown's 'bigoted woman' gaffe, when he was recorded calling Labour supporter Gillian Duffy bigoted after inadvertently leaving his microphone on after meeting her on the campaign trail in Rochdale
Four years since Ed Balls sent *that* tweet
TODAY IN PARLIAMENT
Rufus Hound Posts May Conspiracy Theory
5 hours ago