Debates 1) Sturgeon ‘nails it again’ and offers to make Miliband PM

Television“Ed Miliband was last night warned he will not get into Number 10 without lurching left, as Scottish Nationalist Nicola Sturgeon told him he is ‘not strong enough’ to win power on his own. He took the high risk decision to appear with the SNP leader, Ukip’s Nigel Farage, Green leader Natalie Bennett and Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood, but David Cameron and Nick Clegg stayed away. It left the Labour leader as the only Establishment figure to suffer an onslaught from his smaller rivals, as he was repeatedly urged to adopt a more left-wing, anti-austerity policy programme.” – Daily Mail

Web reaction:

  • You haven’t seen sad and bitter until you’ve seen the Lib Dems tweeting during the debate – i100
  • The internet responds to the debate… with memes – Daily Mail

Debates 2) UKIP: Farage comes out fighting for Britain

“The UK Independence Party leader came out fighting in a furious live television clash over immigration, public spending, the Armed Forces and the NHS. In a heated live debate on BBC1, Mr Farage said he was prepared to “stand up and fight for ordinary folk” in Britain. He said: “I’m not afraid to say what I think, whether you agree with everything I say or not. “Know that when I say it I do so because I believe in it. I’m patriotic, I believe in this country, I believe in the people of this country.””– Daily Express

  • UKIP leader lashes out at audience – The Times (£)
  • Farage slapped down by Dimbleby over audience bias claim – Daily Mail
  • How he managed to insult the entire audience – i100
  • Miliband’s face whilst looking at Farage speaks for the nation – i100

Debates 3) Comment: Sturgeon had a deadly tactic against the Labour leader: she mothered him

SNP logo white background“Nicola Sturgeon also had another, deadly tactic, for dealing wih Ed Miliband. It was to mother him. The Tory attacks on him had been a disgrace. Poor Ed wasn’t strong enough to get rid of the Conservatives on his own. But together, with her love and care, they could run the Tories from office. Together, Ed and Nicola could make a difference. Ed was having none of it. “We’re very different”, he said brusquely. In the end Miliband survived his ordeal. He was bloodied, and occasionally bowed. But there were no knockout blows, and he lived to fight another day.” – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph

  • Who won? Who lost? Who got their message across? Views from the right… – Janet Daley, Dan Hodges, Iain Martin, Mary Riddell, and Toby Young, Daily Telegraph
  • …and the left – Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, Gaby Hinsliff, Hugh Muir, Deborah Orr, and Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
  • The spin room, a Westminster museum of artless bullshit – Marina Hyde, The Guardian
  • The SNP has no interest in my country’s success – Martin Wolf, Financial Times
  • How my joke exposed the dark side of the SNP – Janet Street Porter, Daily Mail



  • I have a plan, said Miliband the cut-price Luther King – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
  • Miliband and Sturgeon, a romance for our times – Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph
  • Bickering Nicola and Nasty Nigel – Ann Treneman, The Times (£)
  • Are you watching, David? This is for you – Donald Macintyre, The Independent

Cameron warns that Miliband would put a million back on the dole…

“David Cameron will today claim that Labour’s economic policies risk putting a million people out of work after Britain was singled out as one of the few ‘bright spots’ in the global economy. The Prime Minister will vow to encourage more job creation by extending national insurance breaks, worth at least £2,000 a year to smaller firms taking on new staff, for a further five years. Saying he is ‘really angry’ at Labour’s claim that the Conservatives are ‘the party for the few, not the many’, Mr Cameron will hail the ‘jobs miracle’ that has seen 1,000 new jobs created every day.” – Daily Mail

  • Prime Minister’s fury as Balls makes light of ‘no money left’ note – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour pledge crackdown on unpaid internships – Financial Times

>Today: The Deep End: Heresy of the week: There’s only so much that politicians can do about economic growth

…as he pledges to do the ‘right thing’ if a coalition is called for

Coalition Colours“David Cameron has vowed to “put the national interest first” if he falls short of an overall majority. For the first time since the campaign began, the prime minister was drawn yesterday into discussing what he would do if he failed to win outright. He said that he would make his position clear within a day of the result. Speaking at a campaign event in Leeds, Mr Cameron repeated his claim that he was focused on outright victory. “I want a strong, decisive government. I don’t want to speculate now about what I’d do if I fall short,” he said.” – The Times (£)

  • Experts predict Tories will be largest party… but Miliband will be prime minister – The Sun (£)
  • The odds are stacked against Cameron – The Guardian
  • Labour take two-point lead with Ipsos MORI – Daily Mail


Scottish Tories ‘coming for the SNP and Labour’

“The Conservatives are “coming for the SNP and Labour” by focusing on voters who are repelled by Scotland’s “soggy, centre-Left consensus”, Ruth Davidson has said as she unveiled an election manifesto that promised to put taxpayers first. The Scottish Tory leader said her party, which holds only one Westminster seat, was “cowed no more” north of the Border and would fight on behalf of “working Scotland” against the spendthrift policy commitments of the other parties. In an impassioned speech alongside David Cameron in Glasgow, she said a “long, hard look at Scotland’s spending policies” is urgently required because they will soon be funded directly from the pay packets of Scottish taxpayers.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Prime Minister calls on Scottish voters to back the Tories and stave off chaos – The Independent
  • Cameron insists majority is possible due to Labour and Lib Dem Scottish meltdowns – Daily Telegraph
  • Labour candidates fear Scottish wipe out as Scots ‘opt out’ of national struggle – The Sun (£)

Tories play hide-and-seek with Boris…

boris-johnson“So where on earth is Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the Mayor of London and would-be MP for Uxbridge? He’s the most popular Tory in the country, but you’d be hard-pressed to work that out from his party’s campaign. Boris was conspicuous by his absence from the party’s manifesto launch this week. He has also been kept off the airwaves by Chancellor George Osborne, who is running the party’s election campaign.” – Daily Mail

>Today: Iain Dale’s column: The Tory election campaign. Where oh where is Boris?

…as Clarke warns that they’re too right-wing to win

“The Conservative party is too right-wing to win a general election, one of the party’s chief grandees has argued. In an interview with the New Statesman magazine Ken Clarke said David Cameron’s attempt to modernise his party had not yet succeeded and that it had not won any elections since lurching to the right. “No one seems to be able to win elections nowadays. I belong to the Conservative party that usually won elections!” he told the magazine.” – The Independent

Davies attacks foreign aid overspend

aidgraphic“Britain is paying professional aid staff up to £1,000 a day to work in Africa and Asia as part of a spending frenzy to meet a government target. Spending on consultants has doubled in the past four years to £1.4 billion, with the bill for outside help now eating up more than 10 per cent of the aid budget. The figures prompted anger. “When people think of overseas aid they think of people who have had their homes damaged by an earthquake, a hurricane or a tsunami — they don’t ­expect to be lining the pockets of consultant fat cats,” said Philip Davies, the Tory candidate for Shipley.” – The Times (£)

  • Country has no say in how agencies use £6bn of taxpayers’ money – The Times (£)
  • Money wasted on mismanaged and undeserving projects due to a law we should repeal – The Times (£) editorial

Campaigning with Soubry, the ‘topsy-turvy Tory’

“Anna Soubry is driving me through her constituency in a slightly alarming manner. With one hand on the steering wheel and the other gesticulating towards some large detached houses to our right, while looking at me to her left, the Conservative defence minister is in full flow. “Do you know which party the voters who live in those houses support?” she asks. “Conservative,” I venture looking at the large drives and well-kept front gardens. “Of course not – they’re Labour,” she berates me. “They think I eat babies for breakfast. They are appeasing their conscience because they have a bit of money.”” – The Independent

Fraser Nelson: London’s influence is strangling a national debate

Banks Face 6 Billion Of Libor Litigation“Even some of those Cameron appointed to his Cabinet fear that the Tories are in such trouble now because the “modernisation” project was too heavily influenced by metropolitan (that is to say, London) values. And that Ukip only exists because the Tory leadership gave up on such voters in the same way that it gave up on Scotland. The Prime Minister is fully aware of such concerns, and how they feed into the wider concerns about a remote political class. This is why he will spend almost every day between now and May 7 outside of London (his record is 26 visits in one day).” – Daily Telegraph

Labour attacked for failing to match Tory pledge of NHS cash

“The former head of the NHS warned Labour yesterday that its failure to match Tory pledges to invest in the Health Service would leave it in a ‘financial hole’. Sir David Nicholson is the latest expert to warn that Ed Miliband’s plans will not provide enough cash to keep the service going. He was branded the ‘Man with No Shame’ after refusing to resign over the Mid Staffs scandal which led to 1,200 needless deaths.” – Daily Mail

  • Miliband plans to resist pressure to meet Conservative offer – The Independent

Unions rescue Miliband’s campaign with £1.6m in the first week

On strike“Union barons handed Ed Miliband more than £1.6million in the first week of the election campaign – treble the donations received by the Tories. Figures released by the Electoral Commission revealed that Labour received £1.9million in the week to April 5, with 84 per cent coming from just three trade unions. It included a £1million cheque from Unite, entrenching Labour’s reliance on the union’s militant boss Len McCluskey.” – Daily Mail

  • Data reveals Labour’s dependence – Financial Times
  • Party raked in four times as much as the Tories in the first week – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: Jonathan Roberts in Comment: Why I left Labour and joined the Conservatives (and why other centrists should do so, too)

Balls criticised for considering return of football terraces

“Ed Balls has been criticised for “insensitive” comments after backing the reintroduction of standing in football stadiums, on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. 96 Liverpool fans died following a crush in the stands at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989. Standing terraces in major stadiums were banned in the wake of the tragedy but some groups including the Football League have sought a review of the policy. Speaking on Wednesday, the 26th anniversary of the tragedy, Mr Balls said he was not sure the ban was “necessary” and backed a move to introduce so-called “safe standing” areas.” – Daily Telegraph

Hunt puts skills at the heart of the future of education

BARRIE CHARACTER EDUCATION“But whereas Mr Gove focused on raising attainment by drilling core areas such as literacy and numeracy, Labour’s shadow education secretary says he has a wider vision based on improving careers advice and vocational education. “It’s about dealing with the challenge of globalisation . . . and how you ensure that communities who are feeling left behind, often white working-class communities in former coalfields and coastal towns and shire counties . . . how you use education to get them to buy into and succeed in the challenges of the 21st century,” he explains.” – Financial Times

CPS attacked for failure to prosecute Labour peer

“The Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to charge Lord Janner with a string of child sex offences has been condemned as “bizarre” and “wholly perverse” as campaigners warn it will further fuel claims of an establishment cover up. With the CPS already under fire over its failure to secure convictions in a string of high profile cases, critics have called for a review of the way charging decisions are made. The move is also likely to heap further pressure on the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, who has been criticised over the decision to pursue journalists through the courts as part of the £20 million Operation Elveden investigation.” – Daily Telegraph

Welsh Labour feel they’re winning back waverers

Wales flag“She wished him well – in Welsh – and then explained in English why she might vote Labour rather than the nationalists this time. “We’ve got to keep the Tories out, it’s as simple as that. It will be difficult for me not to vote for Plaid but if it means getting rid of David Cameron, then that is what we must do.” Such messages are music to the ears of Welsh Labour. Five years ago grassroots members and supporters deserted in their droves. Some were disillusioned by the UK’s involvement in the Iraq war, others were uninspired by a party they felt was more about the London elite than its traditional heartlands. “People did leave us,” said Jones. “They voted for the Lib Dems or for nobody. It’s very different now. People are coming back to us. We didn’t have that many people on the ground last time, knocking on doors, stuffing envelopes. We do again now.”” – The Guardian

Voters in Labour heartlands are no longer bothering to register to vote

“Hundreds of thousands of voters across Labour’s heartlands are no longer bothering to register to vote, official figures revealed today. The overall number of voters on the electoral register has tumbled by nearly 815,000 or 1.8 per cent in the last year. And the drop is biggest in cities such as Cardiff, where registration is down 18 per cent, Liverpool, down 15 per cent, and Newcastle, down 14 per cent. Across the North East, registered voters have plunged by more than 70,000 in the past 12 months. Labour has warned for months that a change in the Electoral registration procedures meant a huge number of students had dropped off the lists.” – The Sun (£)

  • English electoral roll shrinks by two per cent due to individual registration – Daily Mail
  • 800,000 disappear from the electoral roll – Financial Times
  • Young fail to register themselves for the big day – The Times (£)
  • Party leaders urge millions to register – The Guardian


Philip Collins: These spending pledges suggest the political class think we’re idiots

MANIFESTO money“It is no surprise to find the Labour party rushing into the campaign with a battery of spending pledges. Somewhere in the future, in a shining city upon a hill, there will be £12.5 billion for the NHS, 34,000 more doctors and nurses, energy bills will be frozen, rents capped and rail fares will be low. A million houses will spring up every year, the minimum wage will be £8 an hour and every mother will have 25 hours of childcare a week, free of charge.If 25 hours isn’t good enough for you then fear not, for the Tories are here to offer 30. In Swindon David Cameron was promising the good life. The rhetoric was out of Aristotle but the financing was straight out of Onassis.” – The Times (£)

  • Manifesto pledges fail to make an impression on voters – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: “Why don’t you want to conquer the deficit?” “Because it’s there.”

Clegg warns against right wing ‘Blukip’ coalition

“Nick Clegg has warned that a rightwing alliance of Ukip, the Democratic Unionists and the Conservatives could hold power after the election unless people vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats. Clegg warned that British values of “decency, tolerance and generosity” would be abandoned if Ukip and Northern Ireland’s DUP propped up a Tory minority government after 7 May – a scenario the Lib Dems have called “Blukip”. In a speech on Thursday, the deputy prime minister repeated the argument central to the Lib Dem campaign that his party would be a moderating force in a coalition with either of the two main parties, providing a heart to a Conservative-led administration and a brain to a Labour-led one.” – The Guardian

Entrepreneurs back the Liberal Democrats in letter

Lib Dem Logo“Nick Clegg has won the backing of more than 50 entrepreneurs, who claim that “the country and business would benefit” from the Liberal Democrats staying in government after May’s general election. In a letter to the Financial Times, the business people claim Mr Clegg’s party helped to provide five years of stable coalition government, introducing valuable reforms in education, apprenticeships and pensions.” – Financial Times

  • Party’s MPs will be ‘all white’ after the election, peer admits – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: LeftWatch: Our at-a-glance guide to the Lib Dem manifesto

UKIP’s faltering campaign gets shot in the arm from newspaper tycoon…

“Nigel Farage’s faltering general election campaign has received a massive boost after a media tycoon gave £1.3million to his party, in a gift which he said was “one of the best birthday presents ever”. Richard Desmond, who owns the Daily Express, said the cash was part of the UK Independence Party’s drive to win more MPs as a “challenging” gesture to shake up the Westminster establishment. Mr Desmond told Mr Farage about his plans for the donation – which is thought to be biggest individual cash donation to Ukip – in a phone call on the afternoon of Good Friday – which was also his 51st birthday.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Desmond: Why I’m donating to Farage’s party – Daily Express

…as Farage reveals that UKIP could have supported Labour if not for Europe

UKIP Q“Ukip would be prepared to prop up a Labour government had Ed Miliband not ruled out a referendum on EU membership, Nigel Farage has revealed. The Ukip leader said the opposition had “turned their backs” on the issue and indicated that as a result Ukip would be forced to work with the Tories in the event of a hung parliament. “I would happily say to you that Ukip could have worked with a Labour party that believed in the British people having a say on the greatest constitutional question of the day. They’ve turned their backs on it,” the Ukip leader told the audience of the BBC leaders’ TV debate.” – The Independent

  • UKIP campaign in the wrong constituency by accident – i100

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: An unorthodox reason for voting UKIP

News in Brief:

  • Scientist finds key to ‘turbo-charging’ immune system – Daily Telegraph
  • Election jitters prompt gilt market exodus – Financial Times
  • Russian sub nearly sunk fishing boat off the British coast – Daily Mail
  • MEPs to award themselves seven per cent budget increase – The Times (£)
  • Northern Irish justice minister announces abortion law reform – The Independent
  • Judge calls for women to have the right to be veiled in court – The Guardian

And finally… Field poses with St George’s flag in dig at Thornberry

England flag“A Labour veteran ripped into snooty colleague Emily Thornberry — by tweeting a pic of a voter under a huge St George’s flag. Consumer champion Frank Field said he was “proud to meet” the local resident in his constituency of Birkenhead, who has a flagpole attached to his house. He even dubbed the snap “Image from Birkenhead” in direct reference to Ms Thornberry’s infamous “Image from Rochester” tweet last November, when she mocked White Van man Dan Ware.” – The Sun (£)