George Osborne has joined the Conservative assault on Labour working with the SNP after the election, using an interview with Peter Dominiczak to brandish official Treasury analysis laying bare the "misery and destroyed livelihoods" it would cause, which we have splashed on today's front page: "Miliband SNP pact would cost families £350 each".
The Chancellor's intervention came as David Cameron and Boris Johnson redoubled their attacks on the idea, warning that Ed Miliband risked sparking a "constitutional crisis" if he attempted to form a Government having won fewer seats that the Conservatives. The Prime Minister later took the unusual step of tweeting a video of Alex Salmond boasting that he will write Labour's first Budget after the election, accompanied by the clickbait-style headline: "This footage will shock you". He also jokingly compared Salmond to a pickpocket in an off-camera quip when appearing on ITV's This Morning, just to make sure the hundreds of thousands watching thought about the SNP.
Ted Heath warned voters tempted by Labour in 1966 with the slogan "vote now, pay later", but his message fell on deaf ears as Harold Wilson won the snap election with a much increased majority. This Tory tartan tumult has already served its purpose, sowing doubt in voters' minds, making Ed Miliband seem weak by suggesting he will have to rely on SNP support, and overshadowing Labour's bid to have this week be all about the NHS. The opposition's furious responses, never quite ruling out an informal deal with the SNP, have kept the fears alive. And so, Ed Miliband has given up on "NHS week" and is talking about something else today - cuts.
Trying to undermine Cameron's claims that the Tories are offering the "good life" to the British public, the Labour leader will warn that the Conservatives are planning the biggest cuts in the industrialised world, drawing on stark analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The IFS will today pass its slide rule over the party's spending plans in their manifestos. The big parties can expect a hammering, as IFS chief Paul Johnson has already said the pledges "would be laughable if it weren't playing into a wider narrative that there is a magic money tree that we can pluck at will".
The Tories will be hauled over the coals over their unfunded spending pledges and planned cuts, while Labour will be skewered on how much it'll need to borrow and its vague deficit reduction plans. One of the most sobering aspects of the IFS' analysis will be their look at how much the main parties have yet to spell out will need to be saved by hiking taxes or cutting spending further. As politicians pick their preferred IFS line to batter their rivals with, Heath's "vote now, pay later" slogan applies to both sides.
Nigel Farage has suggested he wants to stay on as Ukip leader until the age of 71, telling the Telegraph's Chris Hope: "I was thinking of packing up in 2035". Previously he has said that by 2020 he would be too "old and knackered" to carry on. This comes after he told the BBC's Evan Davis that his strident tone on issues including immigration and HIV was designed to "get noticed". Meanwhile, a Ukip candidate has compared Farage to Mahatma Gandhi, explaining: "He's got a lot of respect around the world". Speaking to BuzzFeed's Siraj Datoo, Sergi Singh also explained why the EU is "the biggest racist organisation in the world".
LIVE (& KICKING) LOUNGE
The BBC has been accused of launching a left-wing ambush on David Cameron after a deeply hostile Radio 1 interview in which the presenter bet the Prime Minister £1,000 he could not win a majority, Emily Gosden reports. Appearing on Radio 1's Live Lounge, Cameron was repeatedly interrupted by audience members and presenter Chris Smith, leading to widespread accusations of bias. The Conservatives may be considering lodging a formal complaint over the interview.
SOMETHING WIKI-D THIS WAY COMES
The Wikipedia administrator who accused the Tory co-chairman, Grant Shapps, of creating a fake identity on the online encyclopedia to boost his reputation is a leading activist in the Liberal Democrats, the Telegraph's Andrew Gilligan has revealed. Richard Symonds admitted today that he had been "chastised" by other administrators at Wikipedia for not checking with more people before banning a user who he claims is Shapps, or someone working for him.
THEY MAY TAKE OUR SEATS, BUT NEVER OUR VOTERS
David Cameron has warned Tory supporters in Scotland that voting tactically to stop an SNP landslide would backfire and lead to Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond standing outside Downing Street. The Prime Minister told the Telegraph's Simon Johnson that Scottish Conservatives should not be "fooled" into thinking that backing Labour in seats where his party is not thought to be in the running would "dent the march of the SNP."
BOJO'S LEADERSHIP HURLEY WITH BURLEY
Boris Johnson has told Sky News' Kay Burley that he would like to be considered to lead the Conservative party after David Cameron. After being repeatedly questioned over his leadership ambitions, the London Mayor finally admitted: "It would be a wonderful thing to be thought to be in a position to be considered for such an honour." You can watch his admission here.
WHERE EAGLE DARES
Shadow cabinet minister Angela Eagle has insisted she did not get into trouble "at all" for saying over the weekend that Labour would speak to "any party" - including the SNP - in the event of a hung parliament. Eagle told the Huffington Post UK's Ned Simons that she meant that "there will be no SNP ministers in an Ed Miliband government". Speaking at the launch of the party's LGBT manifesto, she also warned that activists cannot be complacent in the fight for equality as "people are still being beaten up".
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 (drawn from the latest Betfair odds), the possible outcomes are: Lab minority: 38.7% - Con minority: 15.4% - Con-Lib Dem coalition: 13.7% - Con majority: 8.9% - Lab-Lib Dem coalition: 8.9% - Any other government/coalition: 10.7% - Lab majority: 2% - Con-Ukip coalition: 1.6%.
DON'T BE A KNOCK-OFF NIGEL
Nigel Farage is a 'Victor Meldrew on stilts' whose remarks about immigrants and ethnic minorities reveal the 'truly odious nature of his views', Nick Clegg told MailOnline's Matt Chorley. As if to prove Clegg right, the Ukip leader later told the BBC that he had a "slight preference" for people from India and Australia over migrants from eastern Europe. Here are more details.
O BROTHER, THERE ART THOU
Labour's campaign is "going pretty well", according to his Ed Miliband's brother David. Ed Miliband, who won the Labour leadership contest from his brother in 2010, revealed he had been in touch with David during the campaign, Chris Hope reports. Meanwhile, Miliband has claimed his £2.7 million home does not feel like a mansion - but admitted he and his wife could happily afford to pay Labour's proposed £3,000 annual mansion tax. Emily Gosden has the details.
ALL YOUR DIARY ARE BELONG TO US
Ministers face having to reveal details of every phone call, internal meeting and official engagement following two landmark legal rulings condemning the "secretive" culture of Whitehall, the Independent's Oliver Wright reports. In a significant victory for transparency campaigners, two courts have ruled that government departments cannot rely on exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act to hide details of ministerial diaries from public scrutiny.
THE LONGEST TEST CARD IN HISTORY
E4, the nation's most popular digital channel for young people, is to switch off its regular schedule for the general election to encourage viewers to get off the sofa and vote, Hannah Furness reports. The Channel 4 digital sister station, known for shows like Made in Chelsea, will cut its normal programmes from 7am on May 7 in a bid to convince young people they are better off going out and voting.
WHAM BAM THANK YOU CAM
It all started with a few teenage girls expressing their unbridled adoration for Ed Miliband, Michael Wilkinson reports. As the #milifandom craze spreads across Twittersphere, it seems feelings are running high for David Cameron too (well for a handful of people anyway). Exeter University student Charlie Evans has explained why he has started the #cameronettes rival to the #milifandom Ed Miliband fan club on Twitter
An embarrassed Ukip councillor is claiming his Facebook account was hacked after it posted a comment suggesting Scottish people should be drowned along with migrants, the Yorkshire Standard reported. Bradford councillor Brian Morris was asked what Ukip would do to "prevent future mass deaths of asylum seekers", to which his account replied: "We could throw in some Scots as life belts."
MAKING YOUR MIND UP
Not sure who to vote for yet? You can use the 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 21: Lab: 33.4%, Conservative: 33.8%, UKIP 13.5%, Lib Dem 8.4%, Green 4.8%. The data is from: YouGov, Populus, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, ICM, TNS-BMRB.
TOO MANY TWEETS…@MichaelRosenYes: Grant Shapps is several chaps/People in the media think he fiddled wikipedia/Grant Shapps never lies/He mistakenly over firmly denies.
From The Telegraph
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Stephen Bush - Why the Tories still have a spring in their step
Tim Montgomerie - Why I'd vote for Nick Clegg... then worry
08:30 Ukip press conference on culture policy
09:30 Public Sector Finances statistics, with figures on government debt and borrowing in March, to be published
09:30 UK monthly retail sales figures released by ONS
09:30 Latest quarterly crime statistics for Q4 2014 to be published
10:00 The IFS to publish its analysis of public finances plans for the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP12:00 Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood speaks at Bangor University12:00 Nicola Sturgeon to attend the first Scottish First Minister's Questions since Holyrood returned from Easter recess
14:00 Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt, Schools Minister David Laws, Paul Nuttall, and James Humphreys participate in a BBC Daily Politics debate on the economy
22:40 ITV's The Agenda with Tom Bradby, guests include: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, author Anthony Horowitz, former Royal Opera House Creative Director Deborah Bull and columnist and broadcaster Jenni Russell.
22:45 'Question Time' on BBC Two. On the panel: Conservative former foreign secretary William Hague, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, SNP MSP and Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Ukip deputy leader Paul Nuttall and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
David Cameron to attend a European Council emergency summit meeting on migrant deaths
St George's Day
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