11.45pm ToryDiary update: Brown trailing in two more post-debate opinion polls

11.15pm WATCH Two clips from tonight's debate:

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11pm ToryDiary: ConHome's expert panel give their take on tonight's debate

10.30pm ToryDiary: Brown trailing in the post-debate opinion polls

10.15pm LeftWatch: Rebuttal of some of Brown and Clegg's claims during the TV debate

From 8.30pm: Live blog of the ITV Leaders' Debate

8pm ToryDiary: Tory lead down to 6% in pre-debate poll

Eric Pickles 2 20107pm Tea with Pickles: Oh shirt – how my Twitter typo cheered up hundreds of glum lefty tweeters

6.15pm ToryDiary: Hundreds of small businessmen rebuff Mandelson and Cable with new letter supporting the Tories on National Insurance

5.15pm WATCH: The BBC reports on Antony Calvert's bid to oust Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood

5pm Election gallery: Tories are quick to take advantage of Brown's disastrous 'Dear Leader' photograph

4.15pm WATCH: David Cameron says he hopes tonight's debate will help restore some of the lost trust in politics

3.30pm LeftWatch: The Green Party's credentials as a party of the far Left have never been clearer

2.30pm Seats and Candidates: Zac Goldsmith threatens to quit and cause a
by-election if he is elected and key pledges are broken by a
Tory Government

ThreeTellies2pm ToryDiary: Five benchmarks for tonight's Manchester debate

12.45pm WATCH: Psychologist Peter Collett explains that the leaders' body language tonight may be more important than what they actually say

Nick Wood's High Noon: David Cameron needs to show some grit, convey some anger and tell a joke or two during tonight's debate

11.15am Seats and CandidatesShaun Bailey persuades Hammersmith businesses to emulate national letter-writing campaign against Labour's jobs tax

10.30am WATCH: ITV unveils the set for tonight's debate

9.30am Michael Bates on CentreRight: Dave's growing number of 'Friends in the North'


Tony Tresigne on Platform: The all-time high petrol prices are directly related to Gordon Brown's economic incompetence

LeftWatch: "The Lib Dem manifesto takes Lab-Libbery to a whole new level of intensity"

Seats and Candidates update: Which constituencies has David Cameron visited so far during the campaign?

Local Government:


Max Hastings: David Cameron has the right character to rule

"He is an unusually normal human being for a politician. Though intensely serious, he perceives the comedy of human affairs. He recognises the sense of impotence which frustrates so many people, feeding their cynicism about voting. He acknowledges distrust “and even fear” of the police among law-abiding citizens; sympathises with public rage at being threatened with fines for muddling rubbish, at the excesses of Health & Safety and human rights." – Max Hastings in the FT

Grayling blames Labour for rise in alcohol-fuelled violence

Chris Grayling 2010 square "Boozed-up girls have helped fuel an explosion in street violence, it emerged last night… The Conservatives – who uncovered the figures – said they exposed the catastrophic impact of Labour's round-the-clock drinking laws. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Britain has seen an epidemic of binge-drinking under Labour. This Government's ill thought-out 24-hour drinking laws have made our town and city centres places that are bedevilled by violence and disorder on a Friday and Saturday night." – The Sun

Parties prepare for post-debate spin wars

"The debates between the party leaders will be the subject of intense “spin
wars”. As soon as the debate begins, the party spin doctors will try to
promote the message that their leader has triumphed in the debate." – Daily Telegraph

Tory lead 9% in today's YouGov pollThe Sun

> Last night's ToryDiary: Conservatives up to 41% in YouGov/Sun poll… but down at 35% according to ComRes

Lib Dem manifesto contains £11.6 billion black hole

"Muddled Nick Clegg was savaged last night after his Lib Dem manifesto launch descended into chaos… The Tories said there was an £11.6billion black hole in the plans. Shadow Treasury secretary Philip Hammond said: "There are lots of things in this manifesto that look appealing. The problem is the sums just don't add up." David Cameron yesterday appealed directly to Lib Dem voters to back the Tories instead. He said: "If you want to have a more family-friendly, greener Britain, a more liberal Britain, then the people who can get that done in government are the Conservatives." – The Sun

> Yesterday's Tea with Pickles: The black hole in the Liberal Democrats' manifesto

Benedict Brogan: Beware the seductive charms of Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg GMTV "Mr Clegg is banking on the prospect of a hung parliament… What Mr Clegg is not telling us, however, is that entrenching uncertainty by voting for it would do nothing to relieve the anger and frustration that voters feel about our politics. If anything, it would exacerbate our disenchantment, by tipping us into a world of shady deals and party shenanigans that made Mr Brown's regime look like a beacon of transparency." – Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph

The Independent calls for a hung parliament

"A hung parliament, and the awkwardness it would
entail for the major parties, would have the further benefit of
demonstrating beyond doubt that the present, first-past-the-post system
has run its course. If it cannot produce a clear result, even when the
odds are stacked in favour of the two main parties, the case for
electoral reform would be proven. Of a hung parliament after 6 May, we
say: "Bring it on!" – Independent editorial 

Academics and economists – but not business leaders – back Labour economic plans…

"More than 50 economists from around the world have signed a letter backing Gordon Brown’s economic plans, The Daily Telegraph can disclose… It is understood that Labour failed in an attempt to get business leaders to sign a similar letter on their proposals – and as a result was forced to turn to economists, a tactic the party has used previously. However, the letter backed by academics – expected to be released ahead of the first debate between the leaders – makes no mention of the merits, or otherwise, of increasing National Insurance." – Daily Telegraph

…as small businesses back the Tories on tax

"Bosses at over 400 small and medium businesses in Britain have
joined some of the country's largest employers on Thursday by backing
the Conservatives' plans to curb a planned payroll tax rise.
The signatories ranging from
plumbers and beauty salon owners to dentists and small manufacturers
pledged support for the Conservatives' promise to scrap a planned rise
in national insurance for seven out of ten workers." – Reuters

Mandelson brands Cameron "toffee-nosed"

Mandelson speaking 2 "Lord Mandelson yesterday joined Labour’s personalised class war campaign against the Tories by branding David ­Cameron “toffee-nosed.” The senior Cabinet minister spoke just minutes after saying he had advised Gordon Brown not to “compete with Mr ­Cameron’s personal insults’’ in tonight’s televised party leaders’ debate." – Daily Express

> Yesterday's LeftWatch: Mandelson launches Class War attack on Cameron's "toffee nose"

Cameron overtakes Brown in Google searches

"If the UK election were to be judged on web search activity alone, David Cameron would be Britain’s next prime minister. Search figures released by Google on Wednesday for the first week of the election campaign show that the leader of the opposition overtook Gordon Brown for the first time since the Conservative Party conference in October last year." – FT

Steve Richards: Cameron is giving us more questions than answersThe Independent

Nick Herbert opposes recycling plants in his constituency

"The Conservatives have promised to push Britain towards a "goal of a zero-waste society". But Nick Herbert, shadow Environment Secretary, who has called for more recycling schemes, is opposing the construction of two major facilities in his Arundel & South Downs constituency, claiming that they are "the right idea in the wrong place".  – The Independent

Charlie Whelan accused of bullying Unite officialsIndependent

Samantha Cameron’s pregnancy is such good timing, say cynical voters The Times

BNP accounts to be investigatedIndependent

And finally… William Hague buys stake in a pub

"William Hague has invested in the George and Dragon pub in the North Yorkshire village of Hudswell. He famously claimed to have drunk 14 pints a day there between the ages of 15 and 21. Locals have raised £227,000 to rescue the joint. Hague says: 'I bought a small stake to help them out. I'm looking forward to the re-opening'." – Daily Mail


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