Latest updates as the parties head into the last 10 days of the campaign, as Labour unveils plans to scrap stamp duty for first-time buyers and 5,000 small business owners come out for Cameron
It was the start of the penultimate week of the election campaign and the race for Downing Street stepped up a gear with a “pumped up” prime minister, big promises from the Labour leader and a interview marathon by the Queen of Scots who could be kingmaker come 7 May. David Cameron took his jacket off and flexed his rhetorical muscle in front of small business leaders. In the face of criticism that the Tories are running a dull campaign, the Tory leader appeared to have a new lease of life, telling the crowd he was “pumped up” and feeling “bloody lively”. But if a letter backing the Conservatives signed by the heads of thousands of businesses had initially buoyed the prime minister, the gradual undermining of its impact throughout the day may have taken some of the wind from his blue sails. Ed Miliband moved to shore up the vote from significant chunks of the electorate with serious pledges on housing including a stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £300,000.
If I’m getting lively about it, it’s because I feel bloody lively about it.
OMG I just met Ed Miliband But who should you even vote for? Find out here: http://t.co/tlWnjg8Zw2 ?? https://t.co/udEuW9Yxe7
My colleague Rowena Mason has written a report on tonight’s Panorama with US tipster Nate Silver, who has suggested there could be an “incredibly messy outcome” to the UK general election, here. She writes:
In a BBC Panorama programme broadcast on Monday night, Silver revealed that a model he backs puts the Conservatives on 283 seats, Labour on 270, the SNP on 48, the Lib Dems on 24, the DUP on eight, Ukip on one and the other parties on 16. This suggests that no two parties would be able to form a majority without the help of a third, leading to the possibility of a so-called rainbow coalition.
He said: “If these numbers held steady, you’d have the Tories as the largest party but Labour plus the SNP are more. Even then they are not a majority. The betting markets seem to think there would be more paths for Miliband in that case, but it’s an incredibly messy outcome. There is still enormous uncertainty about who forms a government after 7 May.”
Here’s a round up of reaction from the commentariat on Twitter to Nicola Sturgeon’s day of interviews.
Ian Mulheirn from forecasters Oxford Economics
Wonder How Sturgeon's 'better deal for Scotland' & 'starting HS2 in Scot' fits w her rejection of pork barrel politics... @EvanHD
Thought @EvanHD elegantly tied @NicolaSturgeon in knots on how she could be part of UK progressive alliance but not vote on English finances
Good & humorous Nicola Sturgeon interview with Evan Davis. Even admitted to admiring David Beckham. #GE2015 http://t.co/Omj03WJzbp
Sturgeon's claim that backing a team based on look of the players is "a bit of a woman thing" not going down well... https://t.co/8bx1VFFsN8
Significant: Sturgeon tells @EvanHD that she would back Labour Queen's Speech and seek to exert influence afterwards.
Following on from his demands on education spending earlier today, Nick Clegg has warned there will be more so-called “red lines” before the end of the election campaign.
I can see where compromise is needed – but their sole purpose is to rip apart the union. There are certain circumstances where there are certain compromises you cannot make. It’s a free country and free democracy and the people of Scotland can vote as they wish. I believe it’s up to any political party to say we have a fundamental disagreement and I don’t think there’s any meeting point and we are free to say that.
Partly because politics is so fragmented, election campaigns go on, people are fed up with politics and politicians and people are cynical I think quite a lot of people aren’t going to make up their minds until very late on the day.
Tonight’s Panorama, on BBC One now, is looking at whether the outcome of the most unpredictable elections in decades can be predicted in advance.
Nate Silver, the “box office statistician” who correctly forecast the outcome of the past two US presidential elections, state by state, is applying his talents to see what he can predict for the UK on 7 May.
Looking relaxed and confident, Nicola Sturgeon gave another top flight television performance this evening. That’s not so surprising - Evan Davis is one of our more sympathetic interviewers, and there was an evident rapport between the pair. Given the scheduling and intended audience, Davis couldn’t and didn’t grill Sturgeon on Scottish NHS waitings times, as Eddie Mair did so effectively earlier in the afternoon. The main news lines inevitably emerged around post-election cooperation and the vexed question of EVEL (or in this case SVEL, Scottish votes for English laws).
Just returning to Nick Clegg’s red-line demands (see 17.15), my colleague Frances Perraudin has filed this report. She says:
Nick Clegg has said that the Liberal Democrats would not enter into a coalition with a party that refused to implement its education funding policy, setting out the first of a series of “red lines” which he will announce in the days running up to the general election.
Speaking on the party’s campaign bus on Monday, the deputy prime minister said that the Lib Dem commitment to increase per-pupil spending for two to 19-year-olds in real terms over the next parliament was non-negotiable and would have to be included in any coalition deal.
Are you the most powerful woman in the UK? Davis asks Sturgeon.
Davis asks Sturgeon if she is concerned that arguments over the influence of the SNP is stoking nationalism across the UK.
She doesn’t like Cameron’s tactics, thinks he’s stoking tensions. But she adds there a lot of people in England who are not scared of the SNP, whether they agree with us or not. Sturgeon says she bets there are people in England looking for a passionate party like the SNP.
I’m not a big football fan. I have no issue with England doing well. I would probably support England.
Davis is grilling Sturgeon on the “English question” - whether or not SNP MPs should be voting on matters that impact England.
Sturgeon says she doesn’t see Scottish interests in a narrow parochial sense. She said she would find common cause with parties from across the UK on issues such as austerity.
Davis says SNP - particularly Alex Salmond - made a lot of the fact that the biggest party in Westminster doesn’t have a “moral right to govern”. He asks what about SNP minority position?
It comes down to arithmetic. If they can’t win a majority on their own and can’t put together a majority then why do they have a right to continue?
Sturgeon isn’t convinced by Miliband’s rejection of a potential “confidence and supply” deal with SNP.
What he says the morning after the election will be different than what he says now. A vote by vote arrangement is both most likely and a way in which a big team of SNP MPs can wield influence for Scotland’s benefit.
Davis reminds Sturgeon that Labour leader Miliband says he won’t do a deal with SNP and asks what she makes of that. Sturgeon is firm:
He should be tougher and not be kicked around by the Tories.
Evan Davis is interviewing SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon now on BBC One.
Davis asks what’s the difference between Labour and Tories if she wants the latter out and former in.
Nicola Sturgeon may feature in four BBC interviews today but the SNP leader still has time to tweet our reporters - at the most awkward of moments.
@libby_brooks mmm...what can I say??
Thanks to reader Andrew Gray who pointed out that Sturgeon has actually done three radio interviews (so far) today, including PM with Eddie Mair.
Mair challenged Sturgeon forensically on her record as health secretary, including a number of un-met targets. The clearly irritated SNP leader took issue with the statistics that Mair was using, and countered:
You can cut this any way you want to. You’re not going to get me to sit hear and say there’s not more work to be done, or that we shouldn’t be improving even further but nor will I sit back and allow the record to be traduced.
I would have the final say. There’s no backseat driver in the SNP.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed Ed Miliband was bullied by the Tories into ruling out a post-election deal with her party.
Earlier he said he was “pumped up” and “bloody lively”, now the prime minister says he’s “fired up” and “hungrier” for re-election than he was five years ago.
I want this very badly. It’s not for me. It’s for people and the jobs in this country. There are 2 million more people in work [since the coalition]. I want to build on that platform. I feel very fired up by it. I see there’s a risk of going right back to square one. I am hungrier than five years ago.
A new poll from ComRes and BBC Newsnight has found 55% believe the leader of the party with most MPs should become prime minister, while a third - or 34% - think it should be the leader who can form a partnership of the largest number of MPs including those from smaller parties.
The results are interesting but it’s also noteworthy to see that, still with 10 days to go, attention is already moving away from the immediacy of the campaign to what will happen from 10pm on May 7 onwards.
Newsnight/ComRes polling data finds 55% believe leader of party with most MPs should become PM: http://t.co/j457T5lbCG
Newsnight/ComRes polling data suggests over half are concerned with the idea of UKIP or SNP supporting a government: http://t.co/VRMd0aIkuj
Ed Miliband has thanked his “fans” and admitted he’d be a “boring night out” in an at-times cringeworthy interview with The Only Way is Essex (Towie) star Lydia Bright.
Bright, who is a celebrity ambassador for the voting campaign Use Your Voice, starts off by asking the Labour leader about his “fanbase” and the so-called Milifandom Twitter movement. What would you say to your fans? she asks.
I’d like to say thank you to my fans. It’s really important that time to register to vote has passed, we encourage people to get out there and vote. Obviously I want them to vote Labour but it’s really important to encourage people to get out there and vote and I think that’s actually what the Milifandom is about.
OMG I just met Ed Miliband But who should you even vote for? Find out here: http://t.co/tlWnjg8Zw2 ?? https://t.co/udEuW9Yxe7
This was Sturgeon’s third radio performance today, and it was another confident one, even if no new ground was broken.
Even if the SNP were to win every seat in Scotland in the general election, I would not take that as a green light to have another referendum.
Welsh equalities charity Diverse Cymru has demanded that the Tories remove its name from this morning’s list of more than 5,000 small business owners backing the party.
The charity’s chairman, Keith Dewhurst, appears as a signatory to the letter.
My colleague Libby Brooks and I are watching a question and answer session with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on BBC Newsbeat now. We won’t post a minute by minute account but will flag anything that stands out. You can watch it here.
What do the real voters think? We have 60 in five key seats giving their view throughout the campaign as part of our polling project with BritainThinks. They each have an app and are telling us what they think of stories as they crop up.
Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg has fleshed out one of his big red lines, the non-negotiable policies in any talks he might hold over a coalition with the Conservatives or Labour.
The next Government must increase spending on nurseries, schools and colleges. That means education spending must rise with both prices and pupil numbers. Without investment in education, there can be no deal with the Liberal Democrats.
Here’s a gallery of election photo highlights of the day featuring some of the photos below.
Good afternoon. Jamie Grierson here. So it’s the penultimate week of the election campaign, I hope you’re all coping with the seemingly relentless efforts of the UK’s parliamentary candidates to win our votes. Please vent, praise, mock and celebrate all things election below the line. I wonder if we can rack up as many comments as Poldark has viewers?
Alongside his poll, Lord Ashcroft has also published the findings of focus groups conducted in Glasgow, Paisley and Edinburth. His report is well worth reading in full, but here are some of the key points.
Douglas Alexander in Paisley was “an exceptionally good local MP. Very genuine and knowledgeable”. Mark Lazarowicz in Edinburgh was “a really honest guy, a man of the people like his predecessor”. Ian Davidson was “a very, very good local MP. When I’ve gone to him with something he’s always sorted it out. But he’s going to suffer for the sins of others.”
This was largely a reflection of Scottish Labour’s overall brand, since several said they knew nothing about him until he took over. But those who had taken against him either accused him darkly of being a “Blairite”, which was an end to the matter as far as they were concerned, or thought he seemed “angry” and was “a shouter”: “He’s very negative. A merchant of doom”. One observation was that “he never looks as if he’s really that happy. It’s as if it’s torture for him, as though it’s a real chore”. Some did have a more positive view: “I think he genuinely cares, but they are just puppets for English Labour so they aren’t going to change anything.”
One thing nobody said [the SNP] should push for, and very few said they wanted, was an early second independence referendum. “We need to move on. I think everyone’s acknowledged that”; “I voted Yes but I don’t think you can keep having referendums until you get the answer you want. Apart from anything else, if we voted for independence people would then start saying they wanted a referendum to join the Union. It should be a generational thing, not every few years.”
In the end the DUP didn’t need to exercise its veto as the Sinn Fein gay marriage bill was defeated by 49-47 votes at the Northern Ireland Assembly this afternoon. Regardless of the result, however, the controversy over the DUP and its attitudes to the gay community will reverberate through the remainder of this election.
In his GB poll, Lord Ashcroft also found that Labour supporters were more enthusiastic about Ed Miliband.
There has been little change in people’s preference of prime minister over the course of the campaign. I found just over half of voters saying either that they were satisfied with David Cameron (32%) or that they were dissatisfied but preferred him to Ed Miliband (23%). Just under three in ten (29%) said they were dissatisfied and would rather see Miliband at Number Ten ...
One notable change since I last asked this question in February was the rise in the proportion of Labour voters who say they would prefer to see Miliband as PM. This will be partly down to potential Labour voters who find him an insurmountable barrier switching to another party, and partly to existing Labour voters thinking Miliband has had a good campaign. I also suspect that some who have decided to vote Labour despite their doubts about its leader are now telling themselves that he might not be so bad after all.
Lord Ashcroft has also published four constituency polls, in seats where Ukip were posing a challenge. They are seats Ashcroft has polled before.
In all four, the Ukip vote has fallen.
My latest round of constituency polling covers four seats in which I have previously found UKIP to be doing well. These include two seats where I found the party in second place to the Tories (Castle Point and Great Yarmouth), and two where I found them second to Labour (Cannock Chase and Great Grimsby).
In all cases I have found the Ukip share down, and in two of the four they have fallen from second to third. Labour are now six points ahead of the Tories in Cannock Chase, and 17 points ahead of Ukip in Great Grimsby, where there was only a single point between the parties last December.
Here is a summary of the Ashcroft poll results (pdf).
Lord Ashcroft’s latest poll gives the Tories a six-point lead.
The Conservatives lead Labour by 36 per cent to 30 per cent in this week’sAshcroft National Poll, conducted over the past weekend. The Tories are up two points since last week and Labour are unchanged. The Liberal Democrats are down a point at nine per cent, Ukip down two at 11 per cent, the Greens up three at seven per cent and the SNP down two at four per cent. The Conservatives have now led in six of the last eight rounds, and this week’s finding equals the highest the party has yet recorded in the ANP – though the figures are within the margin of error of a much closer result.
Given that David Cameron’s “passion” is a topic for the day, I suppose there might be some interest in his revelation, on Classic FM, about he proposed to his wife. On the sofa, while watching the Martin Scorsese’s crime film, Mean Streets.
It doesn’t sound very romantic. I’m surprised she said yes.
Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics interviews have been among the highlights of the election. He is almost invariably better briefed than his interviewees, and he chews them up so regularly that a Neil mauling has ceased to become news. But, even by Neil’s standards, today’s take-down of David Gauke over the CCHQ-concocted small business leaders letter in the Telegraph was particularly good. Here it is.
Ed Brown has got an interesting post about the Labour stamp duty policy on the Newsnight blog. He says that the benefits will overwhelmingly go to people in the south of England, and that richer first-time buyers will gain more than poorer ones. It is on the Newsnight blog at 11.58am.
In a broad discussion that covered issues including policing, immigration and counter-terrorism, Theresa May the Conservative home secretary, Yvette Cooper the Labour shadow home secretary , Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, Ukip’s Steven Woolfe and Plaid Cymru’s Simon Thomas went head-to-head. Here are the key points covered by each representative:
Ivan Lewis, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, has backed the concerns raised by the DUP about the Conservatives’ anti-SNP rhetoric.
The DUP are right to express concern that Tory election strategy and rhetoric are deeply damaging to the union. Through their increasingly desperate attempts to spread fear and division, the Tories are undermining our shared duty to put the unity and integrity of the country first.
In contrast, Labour has made it clear we will do no post-election deals with the SNP and will consider the implications of further devolution in a constitutional convention which will consider relevant issues in a responsible and measured way.
Here’s a Guardian video with a clip from Ed Miliband’s home ownership speech.
Lord Bell, the former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, told the World at One that he thought the Conservatives would win a majority. He explained why:
It’s worth remembering that in 1992 18% of voters made their mind up on polling day – that’s one in five. Now, if the same happens this time then you’ll get a very different result to what’s being shown in the polls. Normally what happens with undecided voters – again, according to research – is that they fall two-to-one in favour of the incumbent.
Ed Miliband has told PinkNews that Labour is in favour of the legal recognision of humanist weddings. He said:
There was widespread support for humanist marriage across parliament during the passage of equal marriage and across the country, including from Labour. We still support the legal recognition of humanist marriages and we’ll review the law for those who wish to marry with a humanist celebration.
During his Q&A earlier, Ed Miliband was asked what he wanted to be when he was seven. A bus conductor, Miliband replied. That was because in those days Lonodn buses had machines that “turned round the tickets” and Miliband was “particularly fascinated” by them.
Here is the gadget he was talking about.
The type of ticket machine that inspired a 7 year old @Ed_Miliband to become a bus conductor(pix ex @Timebus)#ge2015 pic.twitter.com/ZRPzPnJVys
Telegraph, 2008: David Miliband's boyhood ambition also to be bus conductor. Is @Ed_Miliband trolling his brother?! http://t.co/uWpFTscjev
The Sinn Fein motion supporting Same Sex Marriage will of course fail to be pushed through the Northern Ireland Assembly. Under the complex rules governing powersharing any unionist or nationalist party can call on a “petition of concern” and state that any proposal cannot pass through the regional parliament because it does not have sufficient cross-community support.
However, the debate coming on the day Health Minister Jim Wells resigned over alleged anti-gay/homophobic remarks could also have potential consequences for one key electoral battleground. In East Belfast the Democratic Unionist Party has been given a clear run by unionist rivals to unseat the outgoing Alliance MP Naomi Long. To do that the DUP has to pick some votes from the more affluent middle class areas of the constituency that usually vote for the Ulster Unionists. These so-called soft “Prod in the garden centre” unionists are socially liberal and normally repelled by the DUP’s moral and religious crusades. While the DUP’s candidate and ex Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson has a reputation for reaching out beyond the party’s traditional Evangelical Christian base, the Wells furore might dissuade liberal minded unionists in East Belfast from voting for him. Naomi Long was certainly quick to remind these voters of the DUP’s record on gay rights and equality today.
The finest mind in the universe has just backed Labour http://t.co/5Qen0szvyL
A Conservative council candidate has been suspended from the party for saying she could not support Ed Miliband because he was a Jew, the BBC reports.
The latest Guardian projection has the Tories on 274 seats and Labour on 270. The SNP are projected to win 54 seats and the Lib Dems 27.
The government I lead is determined to restore the dream of home ownership.
The SNP position is now utterly ridiculous. Their manifesto commits them to vote for fair taxes at the top to provide additional funds for public services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
But it goes on to make clear that on no account must these changes help Scotland – because that would mean the pooling and sharing of risk and resources across the UK, something to which they are fundamentally opposed.
Nicola Sturgeon says this isn’t about another referendum.
But her deputy leader - when he thought he was only taking to the party faithful – has given the game away.
Why is Cameron turning up the volume so obviously? This poll, in the Times’s Red Box email briefing, helps to explain why.
YouGov asked respondents whether they had seen “a lot” or “a fair amount” of various politicians. Ed Miliband came out top. David Cameron scored about the same as Nicola Sturgeon and Nigel Farage.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has issued a statement accusing Labour and the Tories of “treating voters with contempt” on the grounds that they won’t accept the likelihood of a hung parliament.
As we enter the final ten days of the election campaign, it is clear that the Westminster parties have hit the panic button.
Instead of embracing the multi-party election that the public want, Labour and the Tories are clinging to the idea that they are entitled to a majority in Westminster - which every poll indicates isn’t going to happen.
The National Association of Estate Agents has welcomed Labour’s plans to abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £300,000. This is from its managing director, Mark Hayward:
This could be a real vote swinger for those looking to step on the housing ladder. Scrapping stamp duty for homes under the price of £300,000 would only mean good things for hopeful first time buyers (FTB). For many, hidden costs such as stamp duty can be the difference between being able to afford a home, and not being able to afford one. Our recent research showed that just under a third of house sales were made to first time buyers, and hopefully we’ll see this significantly increase over the next three years.
The SNP has launched its rural manifesto. “SNP MPs will stand up for key measures like protecting the Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation and press for Scotland’s farmers to receive their fair share of CAP convergence funding,” said the SNP’s Richard Lochhead.
The Guardian’s ICM poll is just out. It gives the Conservatives a 3-point lead, up 1 from last week. Here the start of Tom Clark’s story.
Conservative support has edged up in the latest Guardian/ICM campaign poll, with David Cameron’s party registering a three-point lead over Labour.
The Tories have advanced by one percentage point on the previous ICM survey a week ago, to stand at 35%. Labour stands still on 32%.
Here is a Guardian video of David Cameron giving his “pumped up” speech at the Conservative small business manifesto launch.
By an unhappy coincidence - at least for the Democratic Unionist Party - the Northern Ireland Assembly will discuss a Sinn Fein motion in support of same sex marriage.
Sinn Fein is putting it forward in response to next month’s gay marriage equality referendum in the Irish Republic.
Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, has had a run-in with the DJ Liz Kershaw over Labour’s plans for rent controls, the Independent reports. Kershaw, who rents out a house herself inherited from her grandmother, said the policy was “half-baked and doomed”.
I think this is half-baked and doomed, if there is a sense that rents are going to be very rigidly controlled.
What will happen is that properties will become vacant. If interest rates on mortgages go up, what about the landlords buying with a mortgage? Their monthly payments sky-rocket - and there’s no control on that, because the Bank of England decides that - and your rent is frozen for three years.
An SNP candidate has said that some people who voted against Scottish independence last September were “gullible”. Mhairi Black, the 20-year-old politics student who is challenging Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, in Paisley and Renfrewshire South, triggered a row in October last year when she described some of those who rejected independence as “gullible” and “selfish”. In February she suggested she had changed her mind, but in a radio interview today she said she still thought some of the “no” voters were “gullible”.
The exact quote is some were gullible, and I think there was an element of truth to that. However, what it is about realising is people are looking for change, they are looking for that fresh start I have just mentioned and the only people who are offering that right now are the SNP.
No, I don’t think so, I think there was an element of gullibility in terms of the lies that some people were told. Maybe the word wasn’t the wisest. However what it is about recognising is that people were scared quite often.
Nick Clegg is on the Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show. He said the Lib Dems would have a “moral obligation” to speak to the party with the largest mandate after the election.
Clegg tells Jeremy Vine: 'I have a moral obligation to talk to the party with the greatest mandate (votes and seats) first'.
A Lib Dem candidate has been suspended by the party, the Press Association reports.
A Liberal Democrat general election candidate has been suspended by the party over allegations that he falsified his council nomination papers.
Patrick Haveron, also the parliamentary candidate for South West Surrey, has been accused of falsifying his papers for the Waverley Borough Council election.
And here are more details from the TNS poll from Scotland that I mentioned earlier. (See 11.26am.) This is from the TNS news release.
A new TNS poll in Scotland shows no sign of the gap between the SNP and Labour decreasing, with voter intention as follows:
The survey of 1003 adults in Scotland reveals that over two thirds (67%) say they are certain to vote. This is higher than the rest of the UK, where 62% said they would definitely vote in the most recent TNS UK-wide poll. Indeed, SNP supporters are most likely to say they are certain to vote (82%).
Among those certain to vote, almost one in three (29%) remain undecided, a much higher proportion than was evident at this stage of the run-up to the independence referendum.
Populus has released a new poll it has carried out for the FT. Here is the FT write-up (subscription).
Labour is three points ahead of the Conservatives, according to a new poll by Populus which suggests that Tory attacks on Ed Miliband’s party have so far failed to dent his lead ...
But with only 10 days until polling day Labour is still at 36 per cent against the Tories’ 33 per cent, according to the poll by Populus, carried out between April 24 and 26. That is a slightly bigger lead than Labour’s 2 point advantage a week earlier ...
Q: [From the FT’s George Parker] The FT is reporting today that the government would oppose a potential takeover of BP. What would your view be?
In his Q&A Ed Miliband is now talking about the DUP warning about the Conservative anti-SNP election tactics.
The union is very important, says Miliband. We should concentrate on what unites us, not what divides us.
Guardian events are holding an election night special, on the Friday after the election. It will be hosted by Jonathan Freedland with a rotating panel featuring Polly Toynbee, Hugh Muir, Owen Jones, Matthew d’Ancona, Deborah Orr, Rafael Behr, Gaby Hinsliff and Guardian pollster Alberto Nardelli. The full details are here.
Q: Will Labour match the Conservative pledge to create another 2m jobs?
Miliband says this is a figure plucked out of the air. The Conservatives have no idea how they will achieve this.
Q: You will give first-time buyers living locally the first call on buying home. That sounds like a way of stopping immigrants from buying homes.
Some Labour supporters in the audience boo. Miliband asks them not to; the journalists are doing their job, he says.
Miliband is now taking questions from journalists. There is a live feed on the BBC website.
Here’s today’s Guardian three-minute election video. Hugh Muir and Simon Jenkins are discussing whether David Cameron is on his way out.
More on David Cameron’s “passion” strategy. I thought angry Cameron would probably go down quite well on television (see 11.23am), but Joey Jones, Sky’s deputy political editor, disagrees.
I'm not sure about the Cameron passion strategy thus far. In small clips (how most people consume it), risks looking purple and shouty.
As Ed Miliband speaks, Ed Balls and Jim Murphy are winding up an event in Glasgow.
And remember this, 25% of those who voted no, did so with the best of intentions to get maximum devolution, that means everything apart from defence and foreign affairs. It is that we will hold Westminster to. You see we expect them to disappoint us, but when they start to disappoint substantial numbers of people who voted no, then there’s a game-changer for what happens on the road to independence.
Ed Miliband is speaking in Stockton South now. He is giving a speech on living standards.
He says Boris Johnson was defending “state-sponsored tax avoidance” on the Andrew Marr show. But Labour will be the first government for 200 years to abolish non-dom status, he says.
Here is some interesting polling from Scotland.
YouGov for @scotlandinunion 14% are voting tactically, inc 20% Tory & 27% Lib Dems. More to follow
TNS poll on Scotland: SNP 54% (+2), Lab 22% (-2), Con 13% (0), LD 6% (0), Green 2% (-1), UKIP 2% (+1)
David Cameron has found an extra gear. After complaints about the lacklustre nature of the Conservative campaign reached a crescendo at the weekend, Cameron has managed to re-energise himself. We saw that yesterday, and the new, pumped-up, no-jacket, slightly sweary passion candidate was on stage again this morning. Journalists are using the hashtags #passion #fierycam and - a bit more cynically, but not inaccurately - #essaycrisis.
When I hold those receptions at Downing Street and when I get the people who got start-up loans coming into Downing Street and telling me what they’ve done, often giving up a well-paid career, taking a risk, having a punt, having a go, that pumps me up ...
It’s decision time – that’s what pumps me up ...
Not sure what Cameron had for breakfast this morning. Maybe it was three shredded wheat? Maybe a spoonful of panic? pic.twitter.com/XcxXWDh3TZ
Judging from my Twitter feed there seems to be a certain degree of scepticism about Cameron's newly found #passion
When are David Cameron's handlers planning to dress him in Terry Butcher's Bloodstained Bandage of Passion?
The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Mike Nesbitt has said Jim Wells’ resignation as regional health minister was “the right thing to do”
Nesbitt said the job of being in charge of the local health service “was far too important” for a minister embroiled in the anti-gay controversy.
The Cameron event is now over.
In his final answer he referred to a note from Peter Mandelson about the impact of the SNP on a minority Labour government. (See 10.36am.) He was talking about a briefing note from Mandelson’s firm, Global Counsel, about the strategy the SNP may follow after the election. I’ve put the two key sentences in bold, but I’ve quoted a larger chunk, because it is relatively interesting.
Sustaining Labour in power would provide the SNP with alternative means to push deeper the wedge between Scotland and England ...
The SNP would be able to do this in three principle ways. The first, and most immediate, would be to harden the terms of the Scotland bill that must go through parliament soon after the election ....
Q: What is your reaction to Len McCluskey’s comments?
Q: Will you admit that your campaign lacked passion previously?
Cameron says the Conservatives often do not wear their passion on their sleeves. But don’t mistake that for thinking that they are not passionate.
Cameron says what pumps him up is that “it’s decision time”.
At BuzzFeed Jim Waterson has a helpful piece on the genesis of the Conservative party’s small business letter.
Q: Is this your response to Ed Miliband’s “hell, yes” moment?
Cameron says he prefers to speak in plain English, rather than American learned from a coach.
Cameron is now taking questions.
Cameron is winding up his speech now.
Sean Kemp, a former Lib Dem adviser, is a bit sceptical of the passion outburst.
At the end of this speech Cameron will tear off his shirt before ripping up a book of small business regulation with his bare hands #passion
David Cameron is giving a speech in London launching the Conservative’s small business manifesto. There is a live feed on the BBC parliament channel, and on the BBC website.
Like yesterday, Cameron is noticeably more energised than he has been in other speeches during the campaign. And like yesterday, he is speaking off the cuff, rather than using a text.
No seats for Cameron speech in central London this morning. Presumably this adds to the energy levels pic.twitter.com/KLRiwBhtXt
Cameron isn't using a microphone. He's just shouting. #passion pic.twitter.com/YHV9Mz2u2U
Meeting small businesses "pumps me up!" yells a hoarse, passionate, Cameron. #passion #GE2015
Cameron is in the Chartered Accountants' Hall and he is PUMPED.
"That pumps me up" howls Cameron. He's going to be careful not to stray into Howard Dean scream territory
Cameron literally jumped up onto the stage like a jack-in-the-box. #GE2015
As the Liberal Democrat battle bus makes its way to Eastleigh, a senior party source has been briefing journalists on why the constituency provides a good example of how the party can defy the odds in next week’s election.
“We won the byelection in Eastleigh in, it’s fair to say, some quite difficult circumstances. The MP had just gone to jail, so that’s never good,” they said.
It is unusual to get firm policy announcements at this stage in an election campaign, but Labour have produced one - the abolition of stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £300,000.
This panicky, unfunded announcement is something Labour have tried before – and it failed. Coming from the people who crashed the housing market and repeatedly raised stamp duty, this won’t distract from Ed Miliband’s inability to say what deals he will make with the SNP to prop him up in Downing Street.
In contrast to Ed Miliband’s gimmicks, because of our balanced economic plan, we’ve been able to deliver lasting reforms - cutting stamp duty for 98% of people who would have paid it.
Here are today’s YouGov GB polling figures.
Update: Lab lead at 1 - Latest YouGov / The Sun results 26th Apr - Con 33%, Lab 34%, LD 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 5%; APP -13 http://t.co/YwxRqm16Ui
The Green party is today promoting its housing policies. It says it would scrap right to buy, introduce rent controls, pegging annual rent increases in the private sector to CPI inflation, and set up a living rent commission to “investigate ways to bring rent levels down”.
Natalie Bennett, the Green party leader, was due to be giving a speech on these plans, but it has been cancelled because she has lost her voice.
The Green party believes a house should be a home, not an asset for investors.
At the moment, the private rental market is structured in a way that benefits landlords over tenants, and treats homes as investment vehicles. As more people rent, rather than own, their homes, it is vital that we correct this imbalance.
TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE LETTER: 'A change now would be far too risky' #tomorrowspaperstoday #BBCPapers pic.twitter.com/VxIOT0uZt2
The Conservative letter in the Telegraph from 5,000 small business owners backing the Tories has received unexpected criticism - from the political editor of the Tory-supporting Sun.
CCHQ high priests give a letter from 5,000 small businessmen to the paper of big company bosses and colonels. Sums up all their problems.
Here’s Michael Fallon, the Conservative defence secretary, on Nicola Sturgeon’s comments on Today.
When Ed Miliband’s biggest union paymaster is saying that he will be forced to do deals with the SNP, it’s no surprise that Nicola Sturgeon knows she will be pulling Ed Miliband’s strings if he gets into Downing Street.
I did not see a lot of Twitter comment on the Nicola Sturgeon interview on Today, but the comments I have seen from journalists are very positive. Here are three of them.
From the BBC’s Jonny Dymond
Like her, loathe her, caricature her, whatever. @NicolaSturgeon is a class politician. Her @BBCr4today interview is worth a listen.
Have to say, @NicolaSturgeon, whatever one thinks of her politics, is doing a masterful job in her BBC Radio 4 interview today
Just heard Nicola on Today. Not many pols can get so many words in edgeways with the loquacious and redoubtable Mr Naughtie!
Gradually, it is becoming clearer and clearer exactly how a minority Labour government might operate with SNP support. Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, and Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, have been answering endless questions about this, and each time the fog of uncertainty gets a little thinner. After Sturgeon’s Today interview, I think the picture is fairly clear.
Here are the key points.
I have said that we would not do anything that would help to put the Conservatives into power. And therefore, if there is an anti-Tory majority, we want to work with Labour and other anti-Tory parties to make sure the Tories are locked out of Downing Street.
Exercising influence in a parliament is not just about the Queen’s speech. It is about how you exercise influence on an issue by issue, vote by vote basis through the entirety of a parliament ...
Ed Miliband can say what he wants right now. But he can’t deny reality. And if there is situation after the election where neither of the big parties has a majority, then they will have to reflect how people voted and they will have to, on a practical level, be prepared to talk to and to compromise with others in order to get their policies through.
You can take a very cynical view and say that we are driven purely by narrow party political interest. Actually, I’m not. I believe in independence ... but fundamentally, first and foremost, what drives me are the interests of the Scottish people. And it is not in the interests of the Scottish people to have a Tory government.
No, I don’t. I want to make sure that that decision is driven by what people in Scotland want.
I have said clearly that I condemn remarks like that and I will continue to do so ... The voters will pass their verdict on him. I lead by example in terms of the tone I expect to be set.
We're in Glasgow with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning @naughtiej #r4today pic.twitter.com/AZ79I679Rf
Q: What do you expect to happen at the election?
Sturgeon says the election could herald an age of multi-party politics. That would be a breath of fresh air, she says.
Q: Do you want a second referendum as quickly as you can?
No, says Sturgeon. That decision must be driven by the views of the people of Scotland.
Q: You don’t want the UK to have sovereignty over Scotland. Why should anyone think you want it to work?
That is a fair question, says Sturgeon.
Q: Between 2009-10 and this year, health spending in England rose by 6% in real terms. In Scotland they rose by 1%. Who is more austere?
Sturgeon says those figures do not include non-profit capital spending.
Q: So Miliband would not have to do a deal with you?
Sturgeon says the SNP want to lock the Tories out of Downing Street. After that, they would use their influence on a case by case basis.
Q: After 7 May, do you expect to have a handle on power?
Nicola Sturgeon says she hopes the SNP will “weild influence in the House of Commons”. People have to vote first. But she would expect the people of Scotland’s views to be taken into account at Westminster.
The Today programme is doing a series of leader interviews before the election. Today Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, is on.
James Naughtie is interviewing her in Glasgow.
Good morning. I’m taking over from Claire now.
Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, has responded to Nigel Dodds’ article in the Guardian criticising the Conservatives’ stance on Scotland. She said:
In this election campaign David Cameron is avoiding talking about the cost of living crisis, the NHS or immigration because he is running from his record and has nothing to say about the future.
Instead, all the Tories do is talk about some non-existent deal with the SNP. It’s not true, it isn’t working and it is dangerously divisive for the future of the United Kingdom.
That Telegraph letter from 5,000 small business owners pledging support for a Conservative victory has unsurprisingly got some people wondering how such an enterprise came about.
We reported earlier this month that Tory peer Karren Brady was trying to drum up support for such a letter.
Find Tory fingerprints on "bosses" letter to @Telegraph. First, see fabricated story here: http://t.co/9e1MRl1Qd1 pic.twitter.com/OhdhQMTO0A
Northern Ireland’s first minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said he would have supported Wells if his party colleague had wanted to stay on in the health ministry:
Jim and Grace have been foremost in our prayers over the last few months.
Almost daily he has updated me on Grace’s progress. I trust she will make a full and speedy recovery.
I know Jim was enjoying leading change within the department and putting in place new policies that were making our health service better.
I would have wanted it to be otherwise but I respect Jim’s decision. However, he is right to put his family first and I will fully support his decision. With such a significant portfolio, there should be an orderly transition; therefore Jim will continue in post until 11 May when the new minister will take up office.
I place on record my thanks, and that of my party, for Jim’s service and trust everyone will accept the stress and strain Jim has encountered over these past months and offer him and his family support and encouragement as Grace battles her illness.
The Guardian’s Ireland correspondent, Henry McDonald, has more on the resignation of Jim Wells:
Northern Ireland’s DUP health minister has just released a statement explaining his personal reasons for stepping down from the power-sharing cabinet at Stormont.
On the row over his anti-gay remarks and his doorstep exchange with a lesbian couple at the weekend, the South Down assemblyman and party candidate for South Down insisted that “at no time did I set out to upset or offend anyone and it has upset me greatly that the comments made have caused distress to some within our community”.
I am deeply saddened that some of those who represent a different viewpoint from me have attacked my family and me in a deeply personal, nasty and in some cases threatening way. Some of the outbursts on social media have been particularly abusive and menacing in nature.
But he said his main reason for resigning was due to his wife’s grave illness:
As many people are aware I have been focused on helping my wife during her fight for life.
Those who know my family and I, know the last three months have been the toughest of our lives as we watched my wife, Grace, suffer two successive strokes and battle through major heart surgery.
My colleague Frances Perraudin continues her trek around the UK aboard the Lib Dem battle bus and sends this dispatch:
The Liberal Democrat battle bus is on its way to Eastleigh this morning, where the party retained the seat from Ukip’s advances in a 2013 byelection.
Nick Clegg will give a speech to activists saying that his party is fighting ‘60 Eastleighs’ in this general election.
Disappointing news. I posted a picture of Sturgeon in my morning briefing gamely braving a gym beam, and said she did not fall off.
It turns out I was wrong.
@Claire_Phipps Good morning! I witnessed Sturgeon’s beam walk and can confirm she fell off
@Claire_Phipps Sorry to say she did. Ms Sturgeon then contemplated trying to swing on this but decided against it pic.twitter.com/KR0CXBjuLh
Hillary Benn, shadow local government secretary, is on the Today programme now, talking about Labour’s housing proposals.
Benn says the number of homes being built needs to increase substantially. He says Labour is committed to 200,000 extra homes a year by 2020.
Hilary Benn says stamp duty would go up for foreign buyers of homes to help pay for three year stamp duty holiday for many 1st time buyers
Ireland correspondent Henry McDonald has this report:
Northern Ireland’s health minister has resigned after uttering anti-gay remarks during the general election campaign.
Democratic Unionist party (DUP) candidate Jim Wells now faces a police investigation over a further anti-gay controversy involving a lesbian couple at the weekend.
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian election live blog. For the election that is next week. Ten days away. That thought might make you feel excited, trepidatious, fatigued or just plain angry. Fear not: we cover all bases here.
I’m Claire Phipps and I’ll be starting off the blog, helpfully providing you with what you need to know to get through the morning, before handing over to Andrew Sparrow. We’re on Twitter, @Claire_Phipps and @AndrewSparrow, and hovering below the line, too, so come and share your thoughts.
Take the ‘right’ of SNP MPs to vote in the Commons, or the supposed lack of legitimacy that stems from it. No one who purports to be a unionist can question it. They have the right.
That’s why we fought and won the referendum: to enshrine the rights of Scots to go on sending representatives, fully equal to every other, to Westminster. Glib and lazy talk about SNP MPs somehow not being as entitled to vote in every division in the Commons as any other British MP simply fuels nationalist paranoia.
If you want political excitement, go to Greece. If you want more showbiz in this election, go to Hollywood.
Here and now in the UK I’m focused on something real. A stronger economy – something that excites millions more: more jobs, more homes, more business, more childcare, more security in retirement.
UK. Failure to win majority against either Brown in crisis or Miliband would mean chop for Cameron. Open talk today in party and press.
one of the boldest policy announcements of the election campaign, designed to steal David Cameron’s thunder
We run small businesses right across the country. We work hard, make sacrifices and invest our own money to help our businesses grow and succeed. It was tough during the recession, but we kept going.
This Conservative-led government has been genuinely committed to making sure Britain is open for business. They’ve managed to get the economy moving again by tackling the deficit, helping to keep interest rates low and inflation down.
The immorality of homes becoming sterile investments takes us straight to the other big fault line: rising inequality and stalled social mobility. The two are linked, because if you must cling precariously to the home base you have — rented or mortgaged, council or private — it reduces your ability to move, change, re-educate yourself and leave a dead-end job and rock the financial boat with a small enterprise.
Cameron is right to hold his nerve. He does not need every single beneficiary of the recovery to vote for him. He just requires a sufficiency of pencils to hover for long enough in the polling booth, as voters decide, at the only moment that matters, that this is no time for a change.
Why panic when such an outcome remains possible – plausible, even?
.@nick_clegg: "In this General Election, we are fighting 60 Eastleighs" #GE2015 http://t.co/YOro5TVMk4 pic.twitter.com/o5HG7i2r5S Continue reading...