After a tough grilling, Cameron wins the Question Time battle

CAMERON TV‘The three main Westminster leaders – Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg – appeared in a BBC Question Time format that left them each exposed to 30 minutes of hostile and informed questioning from a confident audience. An instant Guardian/ICM poll found that Cameron had come out on top, with 44% of those surveyed feeling that the prime minister had done “best on the night”, compared with 38% for Miliband and 19% for Nick Clegg. But only 8% said their vote would be swayed by what they had seen. With the election only a week away, the three grillings were seen as critical to the outcome of the closest election for a generation.’ – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Yesterday evening’s Question Time Special. Cameron won – but will it matter?

>Yesterday: To The Point: Election campaigns change nothing and everything

Boris issues appeal to UKIPers

‘“My message to Kippers is this: grit your teeth, screw up your eyes, take a deep breath – and do the right thing for this country. Come home Ukippers. Help us stave off the nightmare of a supine, useless, federalist Miliband/SNP government – because that’s the choice we face.”’ – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Which Boris is right about equality?

The Financial Times endorses the Conservatives

FT‘Ultimately, however, there is only one leader and one party that can head the government. There are risks in re-electing Mr Cameron’s party, especially on Europe. But there are greater risks in not doing so. Its instincts on the economy, business and reform of public services are broadly right. Mr Miliband has not offered a credible economic prospectus and would apply a brake on enterprise. In the circumstances, the FT would like to see a Conservative-led administration.’ – FT Leader

Tory assault intensifies in the South West

‘David Cameron has ordered a string of cabinet ministers to campaign in the totemic Liberal Democrat seat of Yeovil, amid Tory claims they will lay waste to Nick Clegg’s southwest stronghold on May 7. Mr Cameron began the offensive last Sunday when he held a rally in Norton-sub-Hamdon, the home village of former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, who captured the seat from the Tories in 1983.’ – FT

  • Ex-Lib Dems in Frome swing to the Tories – FT

>Today: MPsETC: Non-target candidates are instructed to leave their seats and campaign in the 40/40 – even on polling day

>Yesterday: Election sketch: Charlotte Leslie – “Getting Stuff Done” on the doorsteps of Bristol North West

Hung parliament would leave us dangerously exposed, warns May

MAY Warhol‘Theresa May warned last night that lives will be in danger if Britain is saddled with a hung Parliament unable to pass anti-terror laws. The Home Secretary said new legislation was urgently needed to update the powers of MI5 and GCHQ, and repair the damage done by the US traitor Edward Snowden. But, based on current polling, Parliament would be left deadlocked.’ – Daily Mail

  • John Curtice says the broadcasters’ exit poll might be wrong – Bloomberg
  • Concern about Miliband sees £1 billion taken out of the stock market – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Reasons to be Tory 10) Theresa May’s Stop and Search reforms

Miliband savaged for denying that Labour overspent…

‘There were mutterings of discontent when the Labour leader did not accept that ­Gordon Brown’s government had overspent, saying it had rebuilt schools, hospitals and Sure Start centres. That drew an angry response from the audience of the Question Time special in Leeds. “If you can’t accept you overspent why on earth should we trust you that you won’t overspend again?” asked one member of the audience. Another said: “This country suffered because Gordon Brown sold off the gold — how can you stand there and say you didn’t overspend? That’s absolutely ludicrous. You are frankly just lying.” Earlier Mr Miliband was confronted by Elizabeth Moody, who runs a marketing company in Leeds that employs 76 people. She attacked him over the response of Ed Balls to an infamous 2010 letter by the Labour chief secretary to the Treasury that warned his successor: “I’m afraid there is no money.”’ – The Times (£)

  • And then he tripped off the stage – The Sun (£)
  • Ed Balls should have been sacked, businesswoman tells Labour leader – Daily Mail
  • Shadow Chancellor tries to reassure the City – FT
  • Zero per cent of business leaders think Labour is “pro-business” – The Times (£)
  • Ed still hasn’t articulated his view of Britain’s place in the world – Natalie Nougayrède, The Guardian
  • Labour candidate found guilty of fraud – The Sun (£)

…and says he would rather be in opposition than in coalition with the SNP…

MILIBAND Ed red background‘Ed Miliband on Thursday night attempted to shore up Labour’s vote in the final days of the election campaign, insisting he would rather not be prime minister than do any form of deal with the Scottish National party…Mr Miliband tried to galvanise his party’s support as the election enters its last days by declaring: “If the price of having a Labour government is a deal or coalition with the SNP, it’s not going to happen.”’ – FT

>Today: Iain Dale’s Friday Diary: My hunch is that the Tory message on the SNP is getting through to voters

…but Sturgeon says if he wants power, he’ll have to compromise with her

‘Nicola Sturgeon tonight warned Ed Miliband he will not be able to pass a Labour Budget unless he agrees to SNP demands – despite the Labour leader’s claim that he would not do any deals. The Scottish First Minister talked up her chances of being Westminster’s king-maker following next week’s election, with polls still pointing to another hung parliament.’ – Daily Mail

  • She says Scots will never forgive Labour if they refuse a deal – Daily Telegraph
  • A deal with the Nats would be a disaster – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • The SNP is set to be the main beneficiary next week, finds Populus – FT
  • Gavin Robinson, the DUP man who would be kingmaker – The Guardian
  • Businesses in Scotland brace themselves for a lurch left – FT
  • Salmond accused of ‘blatant untruths’ – Daily Telegraph

Europhile Lib Dems threaten to scupper a second coalition

Libdem bird vs TORY‘A second power-sharing deal between David Cameron and Nick Clegg risks being scuppered by Liberal Democrats refusing to back a referendum on Britain’s EU membership. Securing agreement from party members for the referendum represents one of the most difficult stumbling blocks, according to Lib Dems from all levels of the party. Opposing the referendum would make a deal with the Tories all but impossible.’ – The Times (£)

  • Cameron: A referendum is my red line – Daily Express
  • The ‘Tory’ welfare document leaked by Danny Alexander was commissioned by…Danny Alexander – The Sun (£)
  • French ambassador warns against Brexit ‘lose-lose’ – FT

Four million people have already voted by post

‘About four million people have already cast their vote for the general election and many of the tightest marginal seats could already be decided, it emerged yesterday. More than seven million postal ballot papers have been sent out to electors so far and between 50 per cent to 60 per cent of these have already been returned, according to election officials contacted by The Times.’ – The Times (£)

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Crimestoppers launches a major new initiative to combat electoral fraud

Proportion of first-time buyers falls to 22 per cent

HOMES Manifesto‘The dream of buying a home is becoming further out of reach for the young, as figures show the number of first-time buyers has tumbled in the last 12 months. The National Association of Estate Agents said only a fifth of house sales in March were to first-time buyers, compared with a quarter a year earlier. According to its figures, just 22 per cent of homes were bought by first-time buyers – the lowest level since last July’ – Daily Mail

  • Esher in Surrey is the most expensive place to rent – The Guardian

>Today: Local Government: Labour’s record of housing failure in Wales is a warning to the English

Outsourcing almost doubled under the Coalition

‘The amount of government money spent on outsourced public services has almost doubled from £64bn to £120bn in the five years since the coalition came to power, according to figures that highlight an accelerating pace in justice, welfare and defence. Tens of thousands of staff have been transferred to private sector management as the coalition has sought cost savings, according to figures from the Information Services Group consultancy.’ – FT

Russell Brand endorses…Caroline Lucas

Russell Brand‘Russell Brand has finally given a firm endorsement of who he thinks people should vote for in the general election – but only in the constituency of Brighton Pavilion. Brand was explicit in his support for Caroline Lucas, the Green party’s first MP, who is seeking re-election in the constituency.’ – The Guardian

  • Meet Britain’s new generation of feminist campaigners – Daily Telegraph
  • Rising numbers of women earn more than their husband – Daily Telegraph

News in Brief

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