Thursday, 23 April 2015


Must do better
The parties have had their homework marked, and there's a fair bit of red ink around. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said Labour and the Conservatives were "too vague" about how they intended to make savings, and the detail of the SNP's plans was at odds with their "anti-austerity rhetoric". The Lib Dems were awarded a "small tick" for showing their workings, but were told off for not saying enough about how they'd raise money from cracking down on tax avoidance. With all four parties on the naughty step, the IFS report card dominated the day's election news.
Forget stats, focus on the big choice
Forget the dizzying list of stats - the millions, billions and percentages - for just a moment. Forget those clever folk at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Forget the claims and counter-claims that "we've spelt out our plans" and the "it's the other lot whose 'numbers simply don't add up'".

Focus instead on what has been missing from this election campaign so far. That is the scale of the choice the electorate are facing. A choice that has been masked by deliberate evasiveness and obfuscation on all sides, by vague ambitions dressed up to sound hard and specific and, above all, by the political cross-dressing of the two big parties.

First Labour tried to convince voters that the deficit, which Ed Miliband had forgotten to mention in his Party Conference speech, was in truth the first thing on his mind at all times.Then the Conservatives, who have endlessly warned about the risks of unfunded tax and spending promises, splashed the cash on pledges to fund the NHS, an inheritance tax cut, more childcare places and more besides. Read more >
Nick Robinson
Political editor
Prepare to vote in the dark
Ed Miliband and George Osborne were both in Warwickshire to defend their respective records
As already mentioned, the IFS have criticised four of the largest parties for a lack of detail on their taxing and spending proposals. The think tank says the manifestos leave voters "in the dark". But the parties have sought to shed some light on their own credentials. Chancellor George Osborne said the Conservatives had "a balanced and clear plan" whereas Labour wanted to borrow £90bn more. But Ed Miliband rejected that claim, arguing the Tories were committed to the "deepest cuts". For the Lib Dems, David Laws his party had been found "more transparent" than other parties, and the SNP's John Swinney said his party would ensure "the necessary resources to end austerity". Read more >
Too many council coronations?
Too many councillors are being elected unopposed, according to John Turner from the Association of Electoral Administrators. He said there was an "epidemic" of uncontested council seats. More than 9,000 councillors will be elected on 7 May. Read more >
Cash for carers pledged by Lib Dems
The Lib Dems are launching a disability manifesto, which includes a commitment to a support package for carers worth £150m. The Lib Dems want to increase from £110 per week to £150 the amount people can earn without losing their carer's allowance. Read more >
Watch: Daily Politics education debate
Andrew Neil and the BBC's education editor Branwen Jeffreys are joined by leading politicians to debate school reform, education standards and university funding. Watch >
The day in pictures

BBC News picture editor Phil Coomes rounds up the best images from the campaign trail, including this of David Cameron emerging from the sleeper train to Cornwall. Read more >
Gordon Brown gives a dressing down
On Tuesday, Sir John Major took aim at the SNP. Last night, it was the turn of another former PM. Gordon Brown told a small meeting in Fife that the SNP is a "protest group" which could usher in "constitutional chaos". He also had some words for David Cameron, whom he accused of "whipping up English nationalism". Read more >
Farage warns of enemy within
Nigel Farage has told the BBC the tone he's used on immigration and HIV was designed to "get noticed". In an interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis He insisted his party was offering "positive" solutions on immigration but maintained people in the UK should be concerned about "those within that wish to fight us". Read more >
Who are the candidates?
Thousands of candidates will be vying for votes across the UK on 7 May. Who are the people who want to be MPs? BBC News' Nick Eardley looks at how they divide along gender, party and regional lines. Read more >
Coming up: Question Time
Tonight's Question Time comes from West Bromwich and features the Conservatives' William Hague, Labour's Harriet Harman, the SNP's John Swinney, the Greens' Natalie Bennett and UKIP's Paul Nuttall. Watch from 22:45 on BBC Two or follow our online coverage.

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