UKIP's Nigel Farage seeking South Thanet selection

Nigel Farage MEP Mr Farage is expected to make his case for selection at a hustings on 26 August

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UKIP leader Nigel Farage has confirmed he is seeking selection as the party's candidate for the Kent seat of South Thanet at the next general election.

In his column for the Independent, Mr Farage, said: "I have thrown my hat in the ring". He is understood to be one of eight candidates for the seat.

Mr Farage, who was born in Kent, has represented south-east England in the European Parliament since 1999.

South Thanet is currently held by the Conservative MP Laura Sandys.

Start Quote

It may seem silly to some that the leader of a party would have to go through the process of being approved and selected but, I assure you, rank means nothing in UKIP”

End Quote Nigel Farage UKIP leader

Following weeks of speculation over which seat he would contest at the 2015 general election, Mr Farage said in his newspaper column that "one of the members of UKIP's Thanet South branch decided to tell a newspaper I was standing in that constituency in 2015".

'Good chance'

He added: "The situation is that there will be a hustings in the constituency... at which the branch will decide who they wish to represent them.

"I have thrown my hat in the ring, but so have others, including a top-class barrister and friend of mine.

"It may seem silly to some that the leader of a party would have to go through the process of being approved and selected but, I assure you, rank means nothing in UKIP."

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Mr Farage believed he had a "good chance" of becoming the party's candidate.

The other candidates understood to be on the party's shortlist for the seat include "a couple of local people and a UKIP councillor", our correspondent added.

Broadstairs beach The constituency, in east Kent, includes the seaside town of Broadstairs

A week ago, UKIP denied Mr Farage wanted to stand in the Kent constituency and said a shortlist had yet to be put together.

The party leader contested the seat at the 2005 general election but came fourth with just 5% of the vote.

The question of where he would stand come the next election came to the fore after he declined to put his name forward for the Newark by-election in June, despite intense speculation. The seat was instead contested by UKIP MEP Roger Helmer.

Mr Farage said at the time that he would not contest the Nottinghamshire seat as he had "no real connections" to the area and that his candidacy would "reinforce the impression UKIP is a one-man band".

Laura Sandys was elected to Parliament for the Conservatives in 2010 and has a majority of 7,617.

She is standing down at the next general election and the Tories have chosen a founding member of UKIP and former leader of the party, Craig MacKinlay, as their candidate.

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  1.  
    23:54: Round-up

    A round-up of some of the key election stories of the day:

     
  2.  
    @BBCNewsnight 23:52: Newsnight

    Tweets: Miranda Green tells us that a debate could change everything: "The 2 main parties are stuck neck and neck so something has to happen."

     
  3.  
    23:39: More from Baker

    Here's a bit more from former Tory chairman Lord Baker who suggested the Tories might have to form a coalition with - wait for it - the Labour Party. (see previous entry 23:22 GMT)

    He told BBC 5 live's Stephen Nolan show: "I'm not advocating there should be a coalition between Labour and Conservatives. What I would like to see is the two parties coming to some sort of agreement. First, I think there should be a constitutional convention to try to resolve how devolution should happen in our country. You can't have devolution just given by one part of our country - Scotland. You've got to take into account the effect of that on Wales, on Northern Ireland and on England itself, which seems to be left out altogether. That means separate parliaments and how voting should be conducted in parliaments.

    "One of the real dangers is that the SNP would be led in the Commons by Alex Salmond, who is a very shrewd politician. He could secure even more levels of devolution. That would lead more to the break-up of the United Kingdom. I think it would be a considerable threat. "

     
  4.  
    23:26: The debate about debates BBC Newsnight BBC Two, 22:30

    The subject of the election TV debates once again featured on Newsnight tonight. Tony Blair's former speech writer, Philip Collins, said David Cameron was prime minister and he "should just get on with it" and have the debates. Journalist Mirander Green from Newsweek said she found Mr Cameron's "one-man block a bit reprehensible". But Tory peer Lord Finklestein said the debates would take " huge amount of time for everyone" away from the campaign trail - and that will also feature in Mr Cameron's decision as to whether he thinks it's advantageous to take part in them.

     
  5.  
    23:22: Tory-Labour grand coalition

    A former chairman of the Conservative Party says a "grand coalition" between Labour and the Tories might be needed after the election to stop the SNP from holding the balance of power if no single party has a working majority. In interviews with the Independent and BBC Radio 5 live, Lord Baker (Kenneth Baker) says such a deal could be needed to "save the United Kingdom". Former prime minister Sir John Major has warned that the SNP would enter any deal with Labour with the "overriding aim" of "prising apart" the union.

     
  6.  
    23:07: Free school expansion

    The Daily Mirror is reporting that David Cameron is planning to expand the free school network if the Conservatives win the election. It says he is set to announce on Monday "plans for at least 153 new ones on top of the 255 already open". Free schools are funded by the state but are semi-independent.

     
  7.  
    22:53: Larges firms to reveal details of pay gap between men and women

    In other news, large firms could be forced to reveal details of the gap between how much they pay male and female employees after the government agreed to implement the measure. The Liberal Democrats had been pushing for the policy in the face of Tory opposition, and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said it was "fantastic news" that her party had won the "argument in government". The measure will be added to legislation currently going through parliament and could come into force within the next 12 months. The move will require firms with more than 250 employees to publish the difference between average pay for their male and female employees.

     
  8.  
    22:32: Tomorrow's Guardian
    Guardian
     
  9.  
    22:29: Tomorrow's Times
    Times
     
  10.  
    @tnewtondunn Tom Newton Dunn, Political Editor, The Sun

    tweets: EXCL: David Cameron becomes first Tory PM to send his daughter to the local state secondary school

     
  11.  
    #bbcpapers 22:11: Sun front page
    The Sun
     
  12.  
    #bbcpapers 22:01: FT front page
    Financial Times
     
  13.  
    21:45: Tomorrow's i
    i
     
  14.  
    @suttonnick 21:40: Nick Sutton, Editor of BBC's World at One

    tweets: Saturday's Daily Mail front page: Exclusive - A mum, her son and THEIR baby #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers

    daily mail
     
  15.  
    #tomorrowspaperstoday #bbcpapers 21:30: Tomorrow's Daily Mirror
    Mirror
     
  16.  
    21:22: 'Gladiatorial contest'
    Toby Young

    Journalist Toby Young, who is the associate editor of The Spectator, told BBC News: "I don't think that a gladiatorial contest is the best way to assess the merits of the leaders.

    "You only have to look what happen in 1960 in America there was a great debate between Nixon and JFK and those who heard the debate on the radio thought that Nixon was the out-and-out winner, but those who saw the debate on television by an overwhelming majority thought JFK was the winner, and that's because JFK had just come back from a sailing trip and was beautifully tanned, beautifully dressed, was much better looking than Nixon - but is that really how we want to assess who the best prime minister is? Who's the best looking? I don't think it is."

     
  17.  
    #tomorrowspaperstoday 21:10: Tomorrow's Independent
    the independent

    Lord Baker, the former chairman of the Conservative party, says the Tories and Labour should consider forming a grand coalition "to keep the UK together", reports tomorrow's Independent.

     
  18.  
    @GuidoFawkes Guido Fawkes, political commentator

    tweets: ITV Hosting a Secret 'Leaders' Debate' Next Friday

     
  19.  
    @geraldhowarth Sir Gerald Howarth, Conservative MP

    tweets: Who do the BBC/ other broadcasters think they are? Completely unaccountable, now want to rig the election by deciding #electiondebate format

     
  20.  
    20:45: Cameron 'slippery' BBC Radio 4

    Labour's shadow culture minister Chris Bryant has described David Cameron as "slippery" because he had argued in favour of the debates when he was in opposition, and now appears unwilling to get involved with them. He did however concede that former prime minister Tony Blair also rejected proposals to have a TV debate when he was in power.

     
  21.  
    20:37: Any Questions - TV debates BBC Radio 4

    Tory Mark Harper said the prime minister was in favour of the debates "but not cramming them into the election campaign". He accused the broadcasters of getting "themselves into a right old mess".

     
  22.  
    20:32: Net Migration BBC Radio 4

    The panel has moved on to issue of the UK's net migration figures. Leader of the Plaid Cymru group at Westminster Elfyn Llwyd described David Cameron's "no-ifs-and-buts" pledge as "the greatest faux pas in the last five years".

     
  23.  
    20:28: Abuse BBC Radio 4

    Minister for disabled people Mark Harper MP told Any Questions: "A number of professionals knew what was going on and significant numbers of children suffered significant abuse over a number of years. We need a dialogue [with professionals] but we need to take further steps to make sure children are protected."

     
  24.  
    20:28: Abuse BBC Radio 4

    The Any Questions panel have been talking about the government's plan to bring in legislation to make teachers and others in authority raise the alarm if they think a child is being abused. The idea is that this would be an extension of the crime of wilful neglect and it follows a report about the sexual exploitation of teenage girls and children in Oxfordshire. Leader of the Plaid Cymru group at Westminster Elfyn Llwyd MP said there were enough laws in this area already. "What we need is to ensure better training for professionals such as teachers, but we should not place a burden on them by making it mandatory," he said.

     
  25.  
    20:22: Radio 4's Any Questions

    Political debate continues right now from Monmouth School in Wales with the President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton, Labour's Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant, Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper, and the leader of the Plaid Cymru group at Westminster Elfyn Llwyd. To listen live click here.

     
  26.  
    20:14: More from Elstein

    Here's a bit more from former TV executive David Elstein: "The next step on this interesting chain of events would probably be going all the way round the second seven-way debate - the BBC one - all the way to the Sky and Channel 4 head-to-head with Miliband and if he [David Cameron] can drag that forward to the end of March, and the broadcasters willing, Ed Miliband says he's willing, it's actually a bit tricky then for Cameron to say well I'm still not going to do it.

    "Me feeling is that he [David Cameron] is not going to do the second seven-way debate, I think that's pretty clear, so the BBC will have a rather awkward decision to make as to whether to make it a six-way debate. I don't think Sky and Channel 4 can possibly empty chair the prime minister in a two-handed debate; it then turns into an interview with Ed Miliband, and under the Ofcom code of conduct they would then have to offer Cameron his own 90-minute interview with or without an empty chair."

     
  27.  
    20:04: Tories 'might do deal with ITV'
    David Elstein

    Former TV news executive David Elstein said the game David Cameron and broadcasters were playing was "somewhere between tennis and chess".

    He said: "Even as the broadcasters put out their fairly defiant statement, Sky and Channel 4 completely undercut it, by saying they were willing to move the head-to-head with Ed Miliband anywhere from 30 April right through to next week, that puts the ball back in David Cameron's court because what he has insisted is he is not going to do anything after 30 March.

    "My guess is the way it will play out is this. The Conservatives will now try and unwrap the broadcasting cabal by going direct to ITV - who are scheduled to do the first seven-way debate on 2 April - and say look 'I'm willing to do it before 30 March you're trying to do it on 2 April why don't we compromise?' And given that the chairman of ITV happens to be a former chairman of the Conservative party you would have thought that was a conversation that might go reasonably well."

     
  28.  
    SNP doubles crowdfunding appeals 19:50: The Guardian

    The Guardian considers the health of the SNP's election war chest, following the party's use of the site Crowdfunder to fundraise. The paper's Scotland correspondent Severin Carrell has blogged that: "Has this crowdfunding appeal flagged up an unexpected issue for the SNP? Is it running short of money, for what is emerging as the biggest and most expensive general election campaign in its history?"

     
  29.  
    19:27: Look ahead Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

    In his look ahead to next week in Parliament, Mark D'Arcy says we will see "the (likely) final Commons speeches of Gordon Brown and Jack Straw, the completion (or maybe defeat) of a myriad of private members' bills - plus a series of tussles between ministers and backbenchers over plain packaging of cigarettes, EU issues and defence spending".

     
  30.  
    19:23: Salmond: We'll call the tune in Westminster
    Alex Salmond

    Scotland will be able to "call the tune" at Westminster after the general election, working with Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, Alex Salmond has said. The former First Minister predicted "neither Tory or Labour will win an overall majority - neither are fit to govern". Speaking in Aberdeenshire, he said: "It is also clear that Scotland is swinging behind SNP candidates the length and breadth of the country. In that situation Scotland can call the tune in the next Westminster Parliament."

     
  31.  
    19:20: Your views

    We have been asking for your views on today's political events, here's a selection of some of them:

    Jamie Page:

    Talk about the BBC getting too high an opinion of itself. Very unedifying. Do not pretend you are pushing ahead with your debate plans on my behalf because you most categorically are not.

    Jim Quaife:

    There is a fundamental question. When did it become acceptable for the media to call the shots? In the current climate of openness one is sometimes reluctant to go against a trend because it might appear to be negative, but regretfully on past performance the level of debate is uninspiring - more akin to a "television show" than serious debate.

    Richard Le Vesconte:

    Cameron and Milliband. Neither of them would say anything worthwhile. How about two empty chairs?

    Keith Davey:

    Cameron's bluff called - imagine he will now pull out entirely. Not a satisfactory way to treat the 22 mlln [sic] people who had enough commitment to the democratic process to watch last time. Tories showing contempt for the electorate if they think people are so gullible to believe their justification for just one debate - just running scared - more honest to say so. Suggest viewing PM Questions each week if you need further examples of contempt for the democratic process and valid questions simply ignored if raising inconvenient issues - see immigration target pledge and PMs response earlier this week.

    You can get in touch by clicking on the "Get Involved" tab above.

     
  32.  
    18:51: Greens on childcare Ross Hawkins Political correspondent, BBC News

    The Green Party has voted to support free universal education and childcare for children aged one to six. The policy was proposed in a motion from the leader Natalie Bennett at the party conference in Liverpool. Despite her support, it does not automatically become a manifesto commitment - instead it will be one of the party's long term aims listed on its website.

     
  33.  
    18:39: Any Questions BBC Radio 4

    Stay with the Politics Live page for the latest political news and comment. At 20:00, we'll be tuning in to Any Questions. Jonathan Dimbleby will be at Monmouth School in Wales with:

    • President of the Liberal Democrats Sal Brinton
    • Labour's shadow culture minister Chris Bryant MP
    • Minister for disabled people Mark Harper MP
    • Leader of the Plaid Cymru group at Westminster Elfyn Llwyd MP.
     
  34.  
    @May2015NS May2015.com - The New Statesman's elections site

    Tweets: This is why Plaid Cymru should never have been invited to #tvdebates. 1/7th as popular as SNP

    Graph of votes
     
  35.  
    18:18: Broadcasters' reaction

    Jonathan Levy, speaking on behalf of the broadcasters, said: "The debates will go ahead with the leaders that turn up and the invitation will remain open to the prime minister should he wish to reconsider his position."

    He added that the group would welcome the opportunity to discuss its proposals with the prime minister.

     
  36.  
    18:11: TV debate

    If you've just joined us, a key story which broke an hour ago is that the broadcasters say they will press ahead with their plans for three TV election debates even though David Cameron has said he will only take part in one. Downing Street says it's "disappointing" the broadcasters have rejected its proposal for the prime minister to debate with six other party leaders. BBC political correspondent Carole Walker says there is a "tense stand-off" between the Conservatives and the broadcasters, "with neither side willing to step down".

     
  37.  
    17:53: More from Ed Miliband

    The leader of the Labour party said: "I think these debates should happen whether David Cameron agrees to them or not, but I think it will be judgement day on the prime minister if he refuses to turn up to these debates because I think people will conclude that he's running from his record, that he can't defend what he's done in government, he can't explain what his future plans are and he's a Prime Minister running scared."

     
  38.  
    17:49: 'Above their station' BBC Radio 4
    Philip Davies

    "I think the broadcasters are getting above their station," according to Tory MP Philip Davies. He told Radio 4's PM: "I think the broadcasters have got to be responsible here, and given that we don't have a presidential system in this country... I don't really see why the broadcasters should turn it into one." He also said that he would be happy to debate with Ed Miliband, saying "No more empty chairs".

     
  39.  
    17:48: Farage in profile James Landale Deputy Political Editor, BBC News
    Nigel Farage

    Away from the TV debates reaction for a second..."Sometimes we forget just how far UKIP has come in a relatively short space of time," James Landale writes in a profile of the UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

     
  40.  
    17:45: PM: Free vote on hunting ban
    The Last Tally Ho?

    The Countryside Alliance magazine's spring issue will reportedly include a piece by David Cameron which includes a pledge that: "The Hunting Act has done nothing for animal welfare. A Conservative Government will give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act on a free vote, with a government Bill in government time."

     
  41.  
    @joncraig Jon Craig, Sky

    tweets: Just spent 24 hours in Scotland. Politicians & political journalists gripped by Ashcroft polling suggesting SNP landslide & Labour wipeout.

     
  42.  
    17:29: Plaid Cymru response: 'Delighted'

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: "I'm delighted that the broadcasters are holding firm, it would have been wrong for one individual to dictate and change the terms of these debates. So I'm very pleased the broadcasters are sticking with their original plans and that people will have the option of listening and hearing the range of political opinion that's available on 7 May."

     
  43.  
    17:21: Craig Oliver response in full

    David Cameron's communications chief Craig Oliver has said: "I made the prime minister's final position clear in my last letter - he is willing to do a seven-way debate in the week beginning March 23. Clearly it is disappointing that you are not prepared to take him up on that offer. I am ready to discuss at your convenience the logistics of making the debate we have suggested happen."

     
  44.  
    17:20: Ashdown on TV debates
    Paddy AShdown

    Former leader of the Lib Dems Paddy Ashdown said these debates belong to the British people. He said that he thought the broadcasters had got themselves into a "bit of a muddle" but "even if it is imperfect we [the Lib Dems] will take part".

     
  45.  
    17:16: Miliband response

    Ed Miliband says it's "make up your mind time with David Cameron"...."he is a prime minister that is running scared".

     
  46.  
    17:16: Greens on TV debates

    The leader of the Greens, Natalie Bennett, said she thought the broadcasters were doing the "right thing" and it was time to "move on from the debate about the debates and start debating the issues". She accused David Cameron of "damaging trust in British politics".

     
  47.  
    17:10: DUP response: 'Shambles'

    But Peter Robinson, leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland, said the debate negotiations had been the "greatest electoral shambles of all time". He said there was "very considerable doubt as to whether the debates will take place". He added: "The broadcasters are not in the position to dictate in the way they are seeking to do." He said they were allowing "parties which are smaller than mine" to take part.

     
  48.  
    17:03: David Cameron's spokesman response

    David Cameron's communications chief Craig Oliver says they have made their final offer and are willing to discuss it, but are disappointed with the broadcasters' decision.

     
  49.  
    16:59: Sturgeon on TV debate developments

    Scottish National Party Leader Nicola Sturgeon said: "David Cameron is clearly running scared of having to answer for his government's record of failure and incompetence - and this arrogance in trying to lay down the law has become his comeuppance. It is entirely up to David Cameron to decide whether having an empty podium will do a better job for the Tories than he is capable of."

     
  50.  
    @politicshome PoliticsHome

    tweets: .@David_Cameron is "doing further damage to trust in British politics" by refusing to take part in more than one TV debate, @natalieben says

     
  51.  
    16:49: TV debates reaction - 'flash of steel'

    Stewart Purvis - former Ofcom partner for content and standards - has told BBC News that there is a "flash of steel" in the broadcasters' reply. He said he thought there was a feeling the broadcasters "had to reply" to the "really very aggressive" letter from the prime minister's communications chief Craig Oliver. He also described the seven-way debates as definitely having "public value", saying they would be "a very worthwhile programme".

     
  52.  
    @hopisen Hopi Sen, blogger

    tweets: Countdown until Clegg et al realise that broadcasters are now proposing to give Ed M his own show if Cameron says no, and so demand balance.

     
  53.  
    16:42: Farage on the debates

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "I am pleased that the broadcasters have stood firm at last, but it would have been far better had they stuck with their original proposal, which included fewer parties. Nonetheless we accept the challenge."

     
  54.  
    @robindbrant Robin Brant - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: So it's Final offer v final offer in #ge2015 TV debates stand off

     
  55.  
    16:29: TV debates

    You will find more on the TV election debates here.

     
  56.  
    @montie Tim Montgomerie - columnist at The Times

    Tweets: The broadcasters' position is ridiculous: include Plaid Cymru but not the DUP?

     
  57.  
    Carole Walker, BBC Political correspondent

    tweets: Broadcasters appear to be standing by threat to hold debates - even without PM

     
  58.  
    16:15: Two seven-way debates, two hours long

    The broadcasters say "there needs to be two seven-way debates of a minimum of two hours each, within the election campaign, allowing time to properly represent the views of all parties, covering a broad range of subjects". This has been the position broadcasters have outlined in the past.

     
  59.  
    16:12: Full statement

    You can read the full letter from the broadcasters on the TV debates here.

     
  60.  
    16:10: Broadcasters' statement

    The statement says: "The broadcasters would like the prime minister to reconsider taking part in all of these debates. 22 million people watched the leaders' debates in 2010 and there is a public desire and expectation for them to happen again in 2015.

    "The broadcasters' proposals have come after extensive work over the last six months to ensure the public have the opportunity to watch televised election debates once more. The group have worked in an independent, impartial manner, treating invited parties on an equitable basis. They have listened to the views expressed by all parties and adapted the proposals to take into account electoral support.

    "The broadcasters will continue to work closely with all parties invited to take part in the televised debates to bring them to their millions of viewers across the UK. The heads of news of all four broadcasters would welcome the opportunity to meet Mr Cameron, or his representatives, to discuss the debates."

     
  61.  
    @joeyjonessky Joey Jones. Sky News deputy political editor

    tweets: Quite a confrontation between broadcasters and PM just before election. Right or wrong, @David_Cameron isolated. May get quite nasty.

     
  62.  
    16:08: More from broadcasters

    The broadcasters say the debates will go ahead on the following dates:

    • 2 April: ITV produce seven-way debate with the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, UKIP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru
    • 16 April: BBC produce seven-way debate with the Conservative Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, UKIP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru
    • 30 April: Sky News and Channel 4 produce head-to-head debate between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition
     
  63.  
    @nick_clegg Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader

    tweets: Come on @David_Cameron you haven't got your own way so accept it and take part. #tvdebates

     
  64.  
    16:06: Analysis Alex Forsyth Political correspondent, BBC News

    This is a big decision for the broadcasters to take, because it runs the risk of allowing Ed Miliband the chance to get his message across unchallenged if David Cameron is "empty chaired".

     
  65.  
    16:02: TV debates to go ahead

    The broadcasters - which include BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4 - have released a joint statement regarding the TV election debates. They have said that the debates will go ahead as planned, in the same format as originally proposed, and they have asked the prime minster to reconsider his position. The broadcasters intend to forge ahead with plans for three debates to take place on 2 April ITV 16 April BBC and 30 April (Sky News and Channel 4).

     
  66.  
    15:58: Look back

    Team change here and a good time to take a quick look back at some of the main stories of the day:

    • Some Scottish Labour MPs are urging Ed Miliband to rule out a coalition with the SNP after the general election
    • Free TV licences and bus passes for pensioners would stay under a Labour government, Ed Miliband has said, but winter fuel allowances would be taken from better-off pensioners
    • At the Green party conference, leader Natalie Bennett said the poorest in society had been "blamed for the mistakes of the wealthy" and called for a "peaceful political revolution" to end the "failed experiment of austerity"
    • Plaid Cymru demand equal funding for Wales and Scotland in any Westminster coalition talks after the general election in May
    • Researchers at Oxford University estimate the number of migrants settling in England increased by 565,000 in the past three years, with two-thirds coming from other EU countries
    • UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he will "do his best" to avoid personal attacks on his opponents during the general election campaign
    • Drivers in England will get 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parking spaces, the government has said
     
  67.  
    15:47: Greens 'idealistic'
    Comres/ITV poll

    The Comres/ITV poll mentioned below also asked respondents the words or phrases they associated with the Greens, UKIP and the Lib Dems.

    The Greens were most likely to be thought of as "idealistic" (41%), UKIP most likely to be seen as "dangerous" (46%) and the Lib Dems most likely to be seen as "middle class" (38%).

     
  68.  
    15:40: Mental health care

    The government is publishing a consultation paper on plans to give people with mental health conditions in England greater control of their care. Ministers promised changes after revelations about abuse at Winterbourne View hospital in Bristol. Care minister Norman Lamb says the changes would put people in charge of their care and promote community support as an alternative to hospital, admitting many families feel "their concerns are ignored".

     
  69.  
    15:33: Plaid Cymru conference
    Leanne Wood

    Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has told her party's spring conference in Caernarfon that she wants income tax powers to be devolved without any referendum. She told party activists: "The Westminster parties have entrenched Wales' funding disadvantage. They should be able to commit to the same funding per head for Wales as Scotland. An additional £1.2 billion for our public services and greater resources to strengthen our country's economic prospects and end Wales' fiscal dependency for once and for all." She also added that her party would create a drugs fund to boost access to new medicines.

     
  70.  
    15:26: Cameron 'cowardice' over debates
    David Cameron MP

    Labourlist has some robust criticism in response to David Cameron's refusal to participate in a head-to-head debate with Ed Miliband: "If he really thought he had a plan, he'd be willing to defend it on whatever TV format he could.

    "His cowardice shows the modern-day Tory party has no heart or soul. It, fundamentally, doesn't know what it stands for."

     
  71.  
    15:19: Ukraine

    The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has warned Russia of tighter sanctions over Ukraine. Speaking during a visit to Poland, Mr Hammond said the European Union was ready to take further measures and the conditions of the Minsk ceasefire agreement must be upheld.

     
  72.  
    15:11: DUP will not seek 'narrow party advantage'
    Peter Robinson

    The DUP has released a statement saying it will not align itself with the main parties to seek narrow advantage in any coalition negotiations - but will focus on delivering for Northern Ireland.

    DUP leader and Northern Ireland first minister Peter Robinson MLA said: "Our MPs will not be part of any government coalition. We will not be seeking any Cabinet seats or any narrow party political advantage. The DUP will use its influence to further the best interests of Northern Ireland and of the Union. Unlike other parties we are not ideologically tied to any one of the major parties at Westminster but can do business with either the Conservatives or Labour."

     
  73.  
    @MSmithsonPB Mike Smithson
    ComRes/ITV poll

    tweets: ComRes/ITV poll on public reaction to GRN party policies

     
  74.  
    @MichaelPDeacon Michael Deacon, Telegraph sketchwriter

    tweets: ‏THE WAITING IS ALMOST AT AN END. Green Party press officer says Fully Costed Manifesto will be published "towards the end of March"

     
  75.  
    @johnestevens John Stevens, Daily Mail reporter

    tweets: "Visual minuting" of Natalie's speech #greensurge #gpconf

    Green confernce
     
  76.  
    @TotalPolitics Total Politics

    tweets: Weekly polling review: Conservatives pulling ahead?

     
  77.  
    14:48: 'Vote for the party that cares'
    Green conference

    "I say to you very simply, vote for the party that cares", Ms Bennett tells her conference as she brings her speech to an end. "Vote for the common good. Vote for the politics of the future. Vote Green."

     
  78.  
    14:47: 'Change Britain'

    There are people who want to see business as usual, Natalie Bennett says. To counteract them, we need people use their votes, she adds. If we all vote Green, "we can change Britain".

     
  79.  
    ‏@rosschawkins Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Free social care paid for by wealth tax, higher taxes on those earning over 100k, tax avoidance, Robin Hood tax under Green plan

     
  80.  
    14:45: Young 'have it tough'

    Younger generations "have it tough", Ms Bennett says. That's not the fault of their elders, she adds. "We need to look out for each other."

     
  81.  
    ‏@SophyRidgeSky Sophy Ridge, Political correspondent, Sky News

    tweets: Financial transactions tax - "Robin Hood tax" - and more tax on those earning over £150k going down well in hall #GreenSurge

     
  82.  

    A financial transaction tax would be introduced by the Greens and those earning over £100,000 "should pay more, says Ms Bennett.

     
  83.  
    14:43: Care plan 'means jobs'

    Free social care for those over 65 would mean 200,000 new jobs and training places, Ms Bennett says. It will be a core pledge in their manifesto.

     
  84.  
    @rosschawkins 14:43: Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: Natalie Bennett wants free social care for over 65s

     
  85.  
    14:42: 'New taxes are needed'

    The Greens will restore equal care for all - that principle should apply to social care too, Green leader Natalie Bennett says. "Those who have the most should contribute most - new taxes are needed."

     
  86.  
    14:41: Remove market from NHS

    That's why I'm delighted to work to introduce an NHS reinstatement bill that removes the market from the NHS, Natalie Bennett says.

     
  87.  
    14:41: Bennett - NHS

    In the NHS, the infiltration of the profit must be reversed, Ms Bennett says. The market "costs us big time", she adds.

     
  88.  
    @LabourList LabourList

    ‏tweets: 12 target seats Labour are worried they might not win because of the Greens labli.st/1KxwLym

     
  89.  
    14:39: Greens: Power and wealth

    The current model of economics and society serves those with power and wealth, says Green leader Natalie Bennett. We must be citizens first and foremost - paying to common funds to look after the old, weak, poor and sick. This is what the politics of the future will look like, she adds.

     
  90.  
    14:38: No Tory deal

    "Just imagine a strong group of Green MPs", Natalie Bennett says. That group would never support a Tory government, she continues. They would have a huge say and could help develop that new politics she has been talking about, she says.

     
  91.  
    14:37: Climate change

    Speaking about climate change, Natalie Bennett says "we have to be up to the task". She says change has to come - the market is short-sighted and short-term. It is blind and senseless and works for the 1%.

     
  92.  
    @jameschappers James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    tweets: .@natalieben: "Noone should be worrying about a fracking drill burrowing into the heart of their community". Eh? #gpconf

     
  93.  
    14:36: Food banks

    Almost half jobs since 2010 are for self-employed people, but many of them are living in poverty, Natalie Bennett says. Individual charity isn't a substitute for collective justice, she says of food banks.

     
  94.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: Ed M last week "a society that works for all and not just a few"; Bennett today "society that works for the many not just the few"

     
  95.  
    @rosschawkins Ross Hawkins - BBC political correspondent

    Tweets: Bennett words almost identical to Miliband's — society that works for the many not just the few

     
  96.  
    14:35: 'Demand for change is louder'

    Up and down the country campaigns demanding new politics are growing, Natalie Bennett says: "The demand for change is louder and clearer, at last, the people are fighting back."

     
  97.  
    14:34: 'Green surge'

    The Green surge is more than a hashtag or numbers, Natalie Bennett says. It's the result of members' "commitment" and "hard work". The Greens are a "central player" in British politics, she says.

     
  98.  
    14:33: 'Nobody should live in fear'
    Bennett

    Nobody should live in fear of not being able to put food on the table or going into debt to pay for education, Natalie Bennett says. The politics of the future is not the politics of transaction, she says. That is the "old" and "failed" politics.

     
  99.  
    14:29: 'Politics of the future'

    The "politics of the future delivers for everyone" in our one planet, Natalie Bennett adds. "That's the politics of the Green Party."

     
  100.  
    14:28: 'Agents of change'

    "Britain could be a very different country on 8 May", Natalie Bennett tells delegates at the party's conference. The Greens can be the "agents of change" looking to the "politics of the future", she says.

     

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