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11.15pm ToryDiary update: Populus poll also has Brown trailing in a poor third

11.15pm WATCH: The leaders clash on the Lib Dems' proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants at tonight's debate

TV Debate Panel photo
10.45pm ToryDiary: ConHome's expert panel assesses tonight's leaders' debate

10.30pm WATCH: The opening statements from tonight's leaders' debate

10.15pm ToryDiary: YouGov and ComRes both report Cameron winning debate as do Angus Reid

BBCDEBATE graphic
From 8.30pm
Live blog of the Final Leaders' Debate

Eric Pickles 2 2010 7.45pm Tea with Pickles: The Lib Dems have no cause to feel secure in the West Country

6.15pm ToryDiary: Tories 6% ahead of LibDems in YouGov tracker (which has Labour unchanged after BigotGate)

5pm ToryDiary: Two polls from the Con-Lab marginals and Lib Dem targets

4pm WATCH: David Cameron appeals directly to Scots to vote Conservative next week

3.30pm ToryDiary: The Party must be asked to endorse any post-election agreement with Clegg (or anyone else)

3.15pm WATCH:

Picture 32.45pm ToryDiary: The Economist declares for the Conservatives

1.15pm Robin Simcox on CentreRight notes an unwelcome intervention from the European Court of Justice

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1pm ToryDiary: Cameron's three goals in Birmingham

12.45pm Andrew Lilico on Platform: Denial must end. Do not bail out Greece.

12.30pm CentreRight: Harry Phibbs on Mind the spending cuts gap and Say goodbye to the sub-Prime Minister

Nick Wood's High Noon: "Bigotgate" looks nastier and is far more serious than the Prescott punch

Noon David T Breaker on CentreRight: Debt, fairness and why we need "smart taxes"

Screen shot 2010-04-29 at 11.42.48 11.45am Light relief on Election gallery: Will Downing Street have squatters after 7th May?

11.45am Local government: The battle for Hackney

11.30am LeftWatch: Lib Dem candidate calls for inquiry into harvesting of organs in Haiti by Israeli army medics – the same call which got a Lib Dem frontbencher sacked

11am Jill Kirby on CentreRight: How do you feel about privacy now, Gordon?

10.45am LeftWatch: Labour candidate who gave Nazi salute now smears Gillian Duffy

ToryDiary: The Shakespeare Report – How should tonight's debate be measured?

Isaby graphic

LeftWatch: If this election is about character, Gordon Brown's actions yesterday showed that he is doomed

Jonathan Delaney on Platform: The Conservatives must remind voters that we are the genuine "party of liberty"

Seats and Candidates: John Stevenson boosted in Carlisle by the support of former Lib Dem candidate

Local Government:

WATCH: The final preparations are made for tonight's leaders' debate hosted by the BBC in Birmingham

One story dominates the front pages

Bigotgate front pages Gordon Brown
"Gillian Duffy had only popped out to buy a loaf of bread. But by the time she got home, following a chance encounter with the Prime Minister, the 65-year-old widow had become the woman who could seal the outcome of the general election." – Daily Telegraph

"It was the day that the great unspoken issue of the election – immigration – exploded in Gordon Brown's face. What should have been a routine encounter with a Labour-supporting grandmother turned into an unmitigated disaster for the PM. Seconds after telling her she was a 'good woman', Mr Brown was caught by a TV microphone privately attacking Gillian Duffy, 66, as a 'bigot' for daring to raise immigration with him – laying bare his contempt for the concerns of millions of voters." – Daily Mail

"The meeting with Gillian Duffy wrecked Gordon Brown's preparations for today's televised leaders' debate and threatens to haunt him to polling day – and beyond. Pictures of the humbled Prime Minister arriving at Mrs Duffy's pebble-dashed terraced house in Rochdale, Lancashire, to apologise for calling the lifelong Labour supporter a "bigot", were beamed around the world. What he said indoors during the 39-minute meeting remains unknown." – The Independent

"Instead of pressing the party’s record on the economy before tonight’s final trial by television, the election machine was reduced to desperate firefighting as Lord Mandelson led a series of Cabinet ministers on to the airwaves." – The Times

Steve Richards 2 "I assume, although I am not wholly certain, that most voters will side with the voter, and not the leader caught by a microphone and then caught again being filmed on a radio show listening to the tape, looking as if he was being tortured. The look was accurate. Acutely aware of how this would play, Brown was in political hell. The entire sequence was destined to happen at some point. Because Brown is obsessed with the media he assumes he is media-aware. He is not." – Steve Richards in The Independent

“The thing about general elections is they reveal the truth about people. What people will see is the contrast between what he was saying publicly and what he was saying privately." – George Osborne quoted in the Daily Express

"She was magnificent, she was eloquent. And she spoke, I suspect, for millions" – Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail

The danger was lurking right under Brown's nose – Andy McSmith in The Independent

Typical Gordon Brown: get in a hole and start digging – Matthew Parris in The Times

The outburst was reminiscent of The Thick of It – Brian Reade in the Mirror

"The saga was a deeply depressing tragicomedy: in a more edified world, we should be talking about public spending cuts and all of the other extraordinarily serious economic, social and cultural issues facing modern Britain. Instead, the nation appears to be only interested in image and personality; what matters are not the issues but politicians’ reactions to them, the way they project their emotions in public, the way they smile." – Allister Heath in City AM

Benedict Brogan "Months ago, the likes of Steve Hilton and George Osborne were predicting – and praying – that it would all come down to the campaign, and the likelihood that Mr Brown would somehow crack under pressure. They kanted to focus voters' minds on the hard truths about Mr Brown – his temper, his indecisiveness, his policy failings. Until Mrs Duffy popped up, they were having to confront some hard truths of their own, not least that Mr Cameron's decision to agree to the televised debates that gave Mr Clegg equal billing, against the advice of many around him, was probably the single biggest strategic mistake of his leadership." – Benedict Brogan in the Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday's coverage on ConHome:

Leading businessmen warn against Lib-Lab coalition

"A group of 55 entrepreneurs has spoken out against the prospect of a Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition, claiming that it would be "disastrous for British business". In a letter to The Times, the signatories claim that they have "created many tens of thousands of jobs in the UK" but that the "ever-increasing tax burden and red tape is destroying the very innovation the UK needs to succeed". Dismissing the idea that Lib Dem involvement in a future government might improve the situation, they say that the policy of Nick Clegg's party is "even worse". – The Times

"A hung parliament could lead to a Greek-style financial crisis, business leaders and economists have warned. They said of a run on the pound and loss of faith in Britain’s ability to tackle its deficit, which is on a par with that of Greece. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said the crisis was spreading ‘like ebola’ across Europe." – Daily Mail

David Cameron has Ed Balls in his sights

Ed Balls "David Cameron said he wants a "Portillo moment" by ousting Ed Balls – as he targeted the Children's Secretary's constituency yesterday. The Tory leader was in the newly-created seat of Morley and Outwood in West Yorks, where Mr Balls has a notional majority of 8,669." – The Sun

> Seats and Candidates: Antony Calvert launches new fundraising website in his bid to give Ed Balls a "Portillo moment"

Guardian poll of Lib Dem targets shows the party gaining at Labour's expense

"The Liberal Democrats are on course to sharply increase their number of MPs, largely at Labour's expense, a Guardian/ICM poll suggests today. The unique ICM poll of voters in seats within the Lib Dems' grasp suggests the party's vote is climbing more strongly in Labour-held marginal seats than in Conservative ones." – Guardian

> ToryDiary: Today's other opinion polls

Tories deny speculation about post election deal with DUP

"The Tories have swiftly dismissed speculation about a possible post-Election pact involving the DUP. A Financial Times report had suggested a deal could be on the agenda if Conservative leader David Cameron needed extra votes to form a Government. "It is complete fiction. We are not in the business of allowing the DUP or their Scottish and Welsh nationalist allies to hold a Conservative Government to ransom, promote instability throughout the United Kingdom and weaken the Union.” – Belfast Telegraph

Norman Lamont: Repeat until polling day – it’s the economy, the economy, the economy. It’s the only message the Conservatives must get across – Lord Lamont in The Times

Robert Chote: The questions the leaders must answer tonight

"When the leaders of the three main parties face off on the economy in their third televised debate tonight, their views on tax and public spending are likely to be the bloodiest battleground. Here are a couple of questions for them, one looking backwards and one looking forwards… Given the scale of the fiscal repair job over the coming Parliament, should we have spent less or taxed more in the run-up to the financial crisis so the public finances would have been in better shape when it hit? Do you really think it is plausible to rely on cutting public spending for as much of the fiscal tightening as your plans imply?" – Robert Chote in The Times

Nick Clegg faces toughest test in final TV debate – Nick Watt in The Guardian

SNP lose court battle over leaders' TV debateReuters

Europe feels shockwaves as bailout faltersThe Guardian

Spain hit as Greek 'illness' spreads over EuropeThe Times

And finally, Boris gives a masterclass in how to behave on the campaign trail

Boris Johnson rosette "Boris Johnson really could teach Gordon Brown a thing or two (or 300) about “real” people on the campaign trail. Yesterday, in Ealing, Boris went walkabout amid scenes of unscripted chaos and never, once, did he blame anyone else for anything, even when he was photographed with a candidate named Bray in front of a horse’s ass… When someone from Poland talks to you, answer back in Polish. “Dzien dobry!” cried Boris at the Pole, who was thrilled. When someone hands you a mobile phone, do not throw it (habits of a lifetime, etc) but talk into it." – Ann Treneman's sketch in The Times

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44 comments for: Thursday 29th April 2010

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