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Live Reporting

By Angela Harrison, Marie Jackson, Catherine McGowan and Tom Moseley

All times stated are UK

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  1. Monday recap

    The election campaign formally started after Parliament was dissolved.

    - The Conservatives defended a claim that working families faced a £3,028 average tax rise under Labour after a leading think tank said the figure was "unhelpful"

    - Ed Miliband launched Labour's business manifesto amid a row over corporate backing for its EU policy

    - Nick Clegg said the Lib Dems would occupy the "reasoned centre ground" during the campaign

    - UKIP leader Nigel Farage unveiled his party's five main election pledges

    - The Green Party of England and Wales said it could be in a "decisive" position if there's a hung parliament

    - Chancellor George Osborne said details of the Conservatives' planned £12bn welfare cuts would be set out in a spending review after the general election

    - Three new polls suggest a Conservative-Labour tie (Populus), a 2%Conservative lead (Ashcroft) and a 4% Conservative lead (ComRes)

    We're ending our coverage for the day now - thanks for joining us. We'll be back again at 0600 on Tuesday.

  2. Mike Smithson, political analyst

    @MSmithsonPB

    tweets

    tweet
  3. Tomorrow's Independent

    Independent
  4. Newsnight

    On Newsnight,Tony Blair's former director of communications Alastair Campbell said it seemed as if there was a "post-match analysis" going on, instead of an examination of policies and what the election is about. Of the main leaders, he said only Ed Miliband could "emerge in a different light".

    Conservative peer Lord Finkelstein said the question for the Tories was whether they could "project their record forward" and show their vision. He added that he would not advise Labour to focus on the idea of "Ed Miliband over-performing".

    Meanwhile, the former Lib Dem press secretary Miranda Green wondered where the parties would find "optimism" against a "background which is really grim". People were worn out by austerity and were hankering after something more, she said.

  5. Tuesday's Mail

    Daily Mail
  6. £3,000 tax bill

    On Newsnight, Evan Davis quizzes Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps on the claim that a Labour government would mean working families would pay an extra £3,000 in tax in the next parliament.

    Grant Shapps says the Conservatives stick by that calculation and would not impose more taxes themselves, but Evan Davis tells him the claim is "obviously ridiculous" and the Institute of Fiscal Studies has found it to be so.

  7. Tuesday's Times

    The Times
  8. Tuesday's Guardian

    The Guardian
  9. Tuesday's Telegraph

    Telegraph
  10. 'Dramatic battle for Scotland'

    BBC Political Correspondent James Cook reports that "last year politics came alive in Scotland".

    "Scotland rejected independence but that fervour has not died down..there is a dramatic battle for Scotland's 59 seats."

  11. Tuesday's FT

    FT front page
  12. Tomorrow's Express

    Express front page
  13. Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent

    @BBCRoryCJ

    tweets:Politicians, companies, journalists all accused of failing to take the internet seriously by @Marthalanefox#DimblebyLecture

  14. Polls: Telephone versus internet

    David Cowling, Editor, BBC Political Research, writes:

    "Following the flurry caused by YouGov’s 4% Labour lead this Sunday, we had three polls on Monday telling a different story. Populus had Conservative and Labour tied on 34%; Ashcroft had a 2% Conservative lead (36% versus 34%) and ComRes had a 4% Conservative lead (36% versus 32%).

    "Among all four polls, the average Lib Dem rating was 8%; UKIP’s was 13% and the Greens around 6%. We’ve barely started our long road to 7 May but perhaps this campaign will develop into a battle of methodologies – telephone versus internet polls.

    "The two telephone polls (Ashcroft and ComRes) had the highest Conservative ratings – 36% each; and the two internet polls (YouGov and Populus) had the lowest – 34% and 32%. YouGov represented a 5.5% swing from Conservative to Labour, enough to give Labour a majority. ComRes suggested a 1.5% swing to Labour, barely a ripple on the election pond."

  15. Round up

    On the first formal day of the general election campaign -- the party leaders have begun setting out their positions:

    - David Cameron said he wanted to complete the job of turning the country around and that voters faced a "stark choice" between the Conservatives and Labour

    - At the launch of Labour's business manifesto, party leader Ed Miliband said the Tories' EU policy threatened business

    - The Liberal Democrats said they would keep a future coalition "anchored in the centre ground"

    - UKIP leader Nigel Farage unveiled his party's five main election pledges

    - Welsh Labour and Welsh Conservatives launched their campaigns

    - The Green Party of England and Wales said it could be in a "decisive" position if there's a hung parliament while The Green Party of Scotland launched its manifesto, including a pledge of a £10 minimum wage.

  16. 'Crowded field'

    BBC Political Correspondent Vicki Young says the crucial difference between this election and the last one is that "it's a much more crowded field", with smaller parties playing a bigger role.

  17. Nick Clegg

    @nick_clegg

    tweets:

    Nick Clegg tweet
  18. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Julia Tolton: Why oh why can't I simply put an X against 'Coalition' on my ballot paper and keep everyone in their jobs? It has been a very successful coalition with some very good Lib Dems amongst the good Conservatives in the government. We need to keep continuity to keep the progress.

  19. Ashcroft poll

    Tory peer Lord Ashcroft's latest weekly survey showed his party gaining three points to 36% on last week - when the two main parties were neck and neck - with Labour up one to 34%. The Liberal Democrats were down two points at 6% and UKIP dropped to 10%. The Greens were up two points to 7%, while the SNP fell two points to 4%.

  20. David Cameron

    @David_Cameron

    tweets:

    David Cameron tweet
  21. Labour mug

    mugs

    Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said he would not buy one of Labour's immigration mugs - because the message on them was not clear.

    "I personally would not buy the mug," he told LBC radio's Iain Dale. "I think it can be misconstrued and what's important is that we are quite clear what we mean by our policies...Sometimes people misunderstand what the mug means."

  22. No welfare announcement

    George Osborne

    The Conservatives will not publish details of their planned welfare cuts until after the general election, Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed. Mr Osborne said they would set out how they intend to achieve the planned £12 billion in savings from the welfare budget in a summer spending review, if they are returned to power after the election. He told Channel 4 news: "We will set out our plans as part of a spending review when you can make these balanced judgments."

  23. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader: Why are the SNP being left out of UK polls and forecasts when they are probably the third biggest party? The fact the SNP are based in Scotland will not stop them having real influence across the UK.

  24. Pact would be a 'disaster'

    Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister without portfolio, says the idea of UKIP working with the Conservatives in the event of a hung parliament would be a disaster. UKIP leader Nigel Farage says he has had "informal" conversations with Conservatives about working with them to secure an EU referendum in the next parliament - but not with ministers.

    Mr Trickett said: "UKIP do not stand for working people because they are too busy planning to join the Tories. They are a party of Tory money, Tory people and Tory policies.

    "It is growing increasingly clear that UKIP and the Tories are prepared to work together, which would be a disaster for working families' living standards and British business."

  25. UKIP

    @UKIP

    tweets:

    UKIP tweet
  26. Liberal Democrats

    @LibDems

    tweets:

    Lib Dem tweet
  27. The Labour Party

    @UKLabour

    tweets:

    Labour party tweet
  28. Conservatives

    @Conservatives

    tweets:

    Conservative tweet
  29. Jonathan Isaby, Taxpayers' Alliance chief executive

    @isaby

    tweets: Probably illegal under election law, but wouldn't it be interesting to subject all party election broadcasts to the @C4Gogglebox treatment?

  30. 'Too much like Yoda'

    Lib Dem campaign correspondent Chris Buckler is on the party's battle bus. "According to gossip on board it has in the past served as transport for both the French rugby squad and Crystal Palace. The Lib Dem team started the campaign journey with a kind of caretaker manager in Lord Ashdown, while Nick Clegg was busy at Buckingham Palace. The party's former leader was obviously happy to be back on the campaign trail and refreshingly frank with the press pack. In response to questions about the poor state of the party in the polls, Paddy Ashdown pointed out that he led the Lib Dems at a time when their support was marked by an asterisk, indicating something less than 1%. And he confessed he had watched Channel 4's "brilliant" drama Coalition on Saturday, although he thought the film portrayed him a little too much like Yoda."

    Yoda, a puppet character from Star Wars
  31. Smile!

    A day for firsts. And here's 16-year-old Ewan Rowe, from Solihull, securing one of the first selfies of the campaign trail with Nick Clegg.

    Ewan Rowe from Solihull with Nick Clegg
  32. 'Utter garbage'

    Labour's Chuka Umunna tells BBC Radio 5Live Drive Conservative claims families will be more than £3,000 worse off under Labour are "complete and utter garbage".

  33. MPs no more

    Tim Reid, BBC Scotland political correspondent writes: "At least a dozen former MPs have ignored House of Commons guidance to make clear on their social media profiles by today that they are no longer members of parliament now that it has been dissolved.

    "No one is allowed to use the title member of parliament while the official general election campaign is ongoing. But at least a dozen former members who are candidates are still continuing to do so. The House of Commons advised MPs to alter their social media accounts or to add a disclaimer stating that the account was created when the candidate was an MP. The Electoral Commission has said it is not something which it can enforce."

  34. Cameron's rally

    Carole Walker, the BBC's Conservative Campaign Correspondent, writes: "David Cameron tells first campaign rally he's fighting on his record, his team and his economic plan for the country.

    "Conservative sources say they stand by the claim that Labour would cost working families £3000 in higher taxes but David Cameron did not mention it in his speech to his first campaign rally."

    David Cameron
  35. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Tim: It would appear the current rhetoric from the minority parties; the SNP, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru - and largely from the Labour Party too - is all anti-austerity. Do these parties not recall what got us into this mess 5 years ago? Are they really suggesting that we pretend we're not in debt anymore & just carrying on sticking everything on the Nation's credit card again. I think history has proved that this is a dreadful idea & at least the coalition has had the balls to tackle this, despite how unpopular they knew it would be.

  36. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Ian Frost, Oldham: Specifically, what are the cuts that Ed Balls will make if he is the Chancellor? He has prevaricated for too long - I would like to know what I'm voting for. I'll tell you after the vote won't do!

  37. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Barry Birch, Staffordshire: I would like to ask Mr Cameron after working 70+ hours a week as a publican and only earning less than 8 thousand a year how can we be in this together.

  38. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader: If the PM said our country is doing so well why have people only been offered a one percent pay rise?

  39. Nick Clegg's seat

    The Lib Dem president Sal Brinton says she has "every confidence" that the party leader Nick Clegg will win his seat. Asked by the BBC's Ross Hawkins if she would be the one to negotiate any coalition deal in the event of a hung parliament, she said: "No - and the premise of that question is wrong".

    She added: "Nick Clegg is not going to lose his seat. We are pretty confident of that. Campaigning in Sheffield Hallam is going extremely well, despite Labour gains on that." She added that the party had put together a "coalition negotiation team", which was not going to meet until 8 May.

  40. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Jo Scott Swansea: In 2010 the coalition inherited a government debt of 811 billion pounds. The Telegraph recently stated the debt is now 1,451 billion - a 80% hike! Tell us the truth so we can make an educated decision on May 7th.

  41. How do UK and Scottish polls look?

    Most opinion polls are suggesting a hung Parliament, and that could mean two or more parties having to work together after 7 May. The BBC's Christian Fraser and Jo Coburn use touch-screen software to look at what the polls are saying, and how Scottish results could play a key part at the coming general election. Watch the Daily Politics clip

    Christian Fraser with election graphic on a screen
  42. Have you ever seen an election writ?

    Daily Politics

    Live on BBC Two

    Parliament has been dissolved and the previously-elected MPs lose their titles and privileges until they, or their successors, are elected after 7 May. BBC Parliament's Daniel Brittain explains the legal details of what happens now to ensure that election writs are issued to all 650 constituencies, as he hears about the legal documents and their seals. Watch his film

    Election writ
  43. Chris Leslie: 'What planet?'

    Chris Leslie, from Labour's treasury team, hit out at George Osborne's comments to Huw Edwards in the past hour, saying: "What planet is he on? He does not seem to realise he has broken most of his promises over the last five years." Asked by Ross Hawkins to say what taxes Labour would levy, Mr Leslie said: "They will have to be fair. For us, it has to be the richest 1%."

  44. 'The view from Labour's bus'

    Peter Hunt, the BBC's Labour Campaign Correspondent, reports on the start of the party's campaign, for a feature called 'On the leader buses':

    While David Cameron undertook a symbolically helpful, but constitutionally unnecessary journey to the Queen - to tell her Parliament was being dissolved - Ed Miliband faced a more challenging task. He was launching his party's business manifesto. Their focus is on "responsible" capitalism and the risks of leaving the EU. Their critics have accused them of having a "sneering hatred" of business.

    In the coming weeks, Labour will attempt to move the debate onto more fertile ground, from their perspective. Expect plenty of talk about the NHS, tuition fees and freezing energy prices. Expect rather less unprompted talk about immigration; the failures of the last Labour government; and on how they'd cut spending if they succeed.

    And also expect an unremitting focus on the character of the man who destroyed (for now) his brother's ambition. Does the Labour leader have the vision? Can he be trusted with the economy? Has he connected with the electorate?

    On television, in marginal constituencies and at photo opportunities political parties never tire of creating, Ed Miliband will be on display.Voters will be able to observe and then pass their judgement.

    David Miliband
  45. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Jack Isherwood, 21, first time voter: Finding it very difficult to understand how Labour is going to guarantee every school leaver an apprenticeship if they want one. Getting an apprenticeship is very hard, I suppose Tesco will be offering apprenticeships in shelf stacking. I am voting Tory, unless I see another option.

  46. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Andrea Carlisle, Plymouth: Parliament has been dissolved, and all MPs are now ordinary citizens, so who's in charge of the country? What would happen if there was a national emergency, or war was declared?

  47. Post update

  48. George Osborne

    "Britain is walking tall again," the Chancellor George Osborne tells Huw Edwards outside number 11 Downing Street. He says people have to vote for what they want - and for who they want to see in number 10.

    "I think the election will focus people's minds and when they see that stark choice they are going to vote for David Cameron," he said.

    Mr Osborne said the Conservatives stood by their view that a Labour government would add £3,000 in tax to a working family.

  49. 'Lame duck' sessions

    Most Americans will find it strange that British MPs have to give up their office and political titles as they stand for election, says Anthony Zurcher, our North America reporter. "In the US members of Congress retain their positions during the campaign and even for two months after election day. Sometimes they're called back to Washington for "lame duck" post-election sessions to vote on major legislation - even if they've been defeated or are soon to be retired. I explain it all in my latest campaignspotting blog post. "

  50. Diane Abbott on immigration

    Labour's Diane Abbott has clarified her position regarding her earlier comments on Labour's immigration pledge. She said: "I am not against immigration controls in principle...We've always had immigration controls....I am against trying to out-UKIP UKIP". Yesterday, Ms Abbott tweeted that a promotional mug setting out the party's immigration policy was "an embarrassment". She added the "real problem is that immigration controls are one of our five pledges at all".

  51. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Sarah: Would Labour reinstate women's retirement age to where it was before the Conservatives came into power? Thank you.

  52. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader in Kent: When will there be more help for workers that commute? Such as a 'workers train/bus fare' (weekly or monthly) as operated in most other countries?

  53. 5 Live in the marginals

    In a blog, the head of news at Five Live Steve Mawhinney outlines the network's plans for the election. He says at its heart "will be an ambitious plan to host 20 programmes across 20 weekdays in 20 of the key marginal seats around the UK".

    "From Fermanagh to Thanet, Cardiff to Dundee, Stockton to St Ives, we will be aiming to get to the heart of what you really care about and finding out how that will shape the way you vote," he writes.

    image from 5 live
  54. Scotland

    In Scotland, the political parties are also hitting the campaign trail. Key figures from Labour and the SNP were in Glasgow's east end while the Liberal Democrats were out in East Dunbartonshire. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson began her campaign in Edinburgh and the city was also the venue for the Greens' manifesto launch. In Westminster, Parliament was formally dissolved after the Prime Minister had an audience with the Queen and in Edinburgh, a proclamation was read out at Mercat Cross, telling voters that a general election had been called.

  55. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Stewart, Leeds: I want a Labour government yet I want out of the EU how can I square that?

  56. Ashdown

    Liberal Democrat campaign chief Lord Ashdown says he would like the party's opinion poll ratings to be higher but insists voters will decide the outcome of the election based on a "sober-minded" assessment of the challenges facing the country. The former party leader said the single-figure poll ratings were not as bad as those the party had in his time in charge and predicted the gap between the Lib Dems and their rivals would narrow. Speaking to reporters on the party's election battle bus he said the Lib Dems were running a "highly targeted strategy" and predicted the tight contest would go "to the wire".

    Paddy Ashdown and Danny Alexander
  57. BBC's Laura Kuenssberg

    @bbclaurak

    tweets: Farage tells me he has informal conversations 'all the time' with conservatives about working with them post May

  58. 'Hate mob'

    The UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, says he is "concerned" about the safety of some of the party's election candidates. He has asked for state-funded security for himself after being repeatedly targeted by protesters. "I think this will be a rough election campaign," he said.

    "I'm less fearful for myself but I'm concerned about some of our other candidates both at local level... and standing in the general election. There is, I'm afraid, something of a trade union-funded hate mob out there that have decided UKIP are a series of things we are not."

  59. Mayor of Calais

    The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart has said migrants in the French town want to travel to England because "they can expect better conditions than anywhere else in Europe or even internationally". In an interview with the Council of Europe's Journal, she claims access to social welfare support "that doesn't exist in other countries" is a key factor.

    The mayor is critical of Britain's approach, claiming Calais had been left to deal with the influx of thousands of migrants, saying: "The main problem is that the migrants that arrive in Calais don't want to ask for asylum. They want to travel on to England. .. There are no ID cards. They can easily find work outside the formal economy, which is not really controlled."

  60. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    BBC News website reader: Can the politicians just do two things: 1. Stop harping on about the last 2 parliaments. 2. Tell us what they will do and how much it will cost each of us in plus and minus terms. I am 68 and have not voted for years because of the above and can only see the same again!

  61. More from the campaign trail

    Aiden James, BBC News

    Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who also went to see the Queen today, argues that the "last thing" the country needs is to be pulled left or right by Labour or the Conservatives. UKIP leader Nigel Farage outlined five key pledges from his party and said there was time for an in/out referendum on the EU to be held this year. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon called this "a social justice election" and demanded an end to austerity, as did Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth, who foresaw a "great opportunity" for Wales if his party held the balance of power. And actor Martin Freeman became the first celebrity to endorse a party in the campaign, appearing in a new Labour election broadcast.

  62. 'Great opportunity' for Wales

    Rhun ap Iorwerth

    Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth tells the BBC that there would be "a great opportunity" for Wales if Plaid held the balance of power. "The stronger Plaid Cymru is, the stronger Wales will be in any talks on deals following May 7," he says. The Welsh Assembly Member describes his party's years of coalition with Labour in Cardiff from 2007-11 as "some of the most progressive years since devolution". The "austerity experiment" has failed and it is time to try something new, he adds.

  63. The day so far

    Aiden James, BBC News

    It is time for us to hand over to our colleagues, Angela Harrison and Tom Moseley, for continuing live coverage of the first official day of the election campaign. Parliament has dissolved and there are no longer any MPs until the results are declared after 7 May. Following an audience with the Queen, David Cameron said the Conservatives had "turned the country around" and urged voters to let him finish the job. Labour leader Ed Miliband launched his party's business manifesto and warned of the consequences of an EU referendum for the UK economy.

  64. Betting

    Bookmakers William Hill say someone has staked the first five-figure sum on the political make-up of the next government. A gambler in Wiltshire has put £10,000 on the Tories to win an overall majority at odds of 11/2. He would win £55,000 if the Conservatives won outright.

    The bookie has cuts the odds on a Conservative majority government to 9/2 - making it third favourite, after a Labour-led minority administration (2/1) or a Tory-led one (3/1).

  65. Tory majority 'not likely'

    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said she would prefer to see the Tories rule as a minority government rather than enter into another coalition. Ms Davidson said a Conservative majority at the general election "doesn't look likely right now" as she launched her party's campaign in Edinburgh. She pointed to the example of the SNP minority government at Holyrood from 2007-11. "I think I would prefer a minority government, and we've seen in Scotland how that can work," she said. However, she added that the Conservatives would continue to work for an overall majority.

  66. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Lee, Guildford: As an undecided voter I'd much prefer to hear parties trying to win my vote rather than this seemingly constant rhetoric of trying to discourage us of voting for other parties. All this sniping of other parties is very petty and one of the reasons that younger people are being put off voting.

  67. Sinn Fein

    In Belfast, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said his party was "totally and absolutely opposed to austerity north and south" - while the parties at Westminster were committed to further austerity. Launching a "people's pact" at Belfast Castle, Mr Adams said: "Any parties which contemplate endorsing or supporting a cabinet of millionaires who are behind budget cuts, cuts to public services and cuts to social protections are ignoring the needs of the people in favour of narrow self-interest."

  68. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader: Please ask the politicians to stop going back on what happened in the past. We want to know what they are going to do in the future.

  69. Royal proclamation in Edinburgh

    Royal proclamation

    More pageantry as the royal proclamation for the election of a new Parliament is read out in Edinburgh, marking the official start of the election campaign.

  70. £3,000 figure 'a guess'

    Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has conceded the party's claim that Labour would raise taxes for working families by £3,028 is a "guess". He said the Conservatives need to "have to have a way of explaining how the Labour plans would affect this country" and the number is based on previous statements by Labour figures. "Unless they're doing to tell us exactly how they're going to do it, then I'm afraid we're left having to guess," he said.

  71. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Terry Johnston: Nigel Farage is spinning a big con with EU withdrawal. Will he tell the people of this country how long it will take to deregulate Britain from the EU? It could take years. We will NOT get our contributions back overnight. Leaving the EU will be a massive retrograde step for this country. You can't leave a "club" and then stand outside and expect to influence how it works. You have be in the EU to get the best for Britain.

  72. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Norman Robson: Can anyone explain why Cameron was allowed to give a party political broadcast, when the piece was supposed to be about the dissolution of parliament?

  73. 'More than happy' with Labour ad

    Gina Miller

    Investment manager Gina Miller tells BBC News she is "more than happy" to be quoted in the Labour Financial Times ad. "This is all getting a bit silly," she says. "I was consulted, I saw the quote that was going to go in and I was more than happy for it to be included in the advert. I happen to be a Labour supporter but this was about business leaving Europe and whether it was a good thing." Staying in the EU means "stability", she adds.

  74. More on 'Labour's £3,000 tax hike'

    Reality Check

    It turns out that the figures the Conservatives are using for working households also include so-called “mixed” households (in which at least one adult is employed and at least one is not), which means there are 17 million of them. That means a tax rise of £3,028 for each of them would raise more than £50bn. But thanks to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which has explained that the figure is reached by adding up all the annual tax rises the Conservatives predict that Labour would have to make by 2020, a method it describes as “at best, unhelpful”. But the IFS also estimates that the total amount of extra money that Labour would need would be £6bn, not £30bn anyway.

  75. Boris Johnson

    The Daily Telegraph

    writes: "Well, folks, this is it, then. Monday is the day that the royal hands are kissed (not, I think, literally)... As it happens, I agree strongly with the betting markets in thinking that the country, in the end, will get it right. People will see that there is a choice between a Conservative Party that has done an outstanding job of turning the economy round, delivering record employment, record numbers of new businesses, record apprenticeships - and a high-taxing, union-dominated Labour Party that would take this country back to the Seventies." Read more

  76. UKIP 'momentum'

    Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    Nigel Farage surrounded by reporters

    Nigel Farage thinks UKIP is going into this election campaign with both money and momentum. The party is polling in the low double figures, which is the best it could have hoped for. It has unveiled a raft of new policies in an attempt to broaden its appeal, but an EU exit and immigration remain high priorities. Another priority is to get Mr Farage elected to Parliament.

  77. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Chris Channon, Nottingham: Given that disabled people make up over 10% of the UK's population, can I ask what future provisions each party intends to make to ensure that they lead healthy, positive and, where possible, productive lives as possible?

  78. From across the Atlantic

    Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

    As an American political reporter I find all the pageantry surrounding the start of the general election quite exciting. In 1996, US President Bill Clinton didn't even bother to formally announce he was running for re-election.

    Bill Clinton
  79. Assistant Editor and chief political correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Christopher Hope

    @christopherhope

    tweets:

    @christopherhope tweet
  80. Nigel Farage sets out his stall

    Speaking in Westminister a moment ago - and unveiling UKIP's five pledges to voters - Nigel Farage says UKIP offers a "completely distinctive plan from the other political parties." He says UKIP is the only party saying the UK should have a trade association with Europe rather than membership of the EU. Because it favours EU withdrawal, UKIP is also the only party with "a solution to the immigration crisis", he argues. And he says UKIP would spend £3bn extra on the NHS using money saved from annual EU contributions.

  81. Martin Freeman in Labour broadcast

    Martin Freeman in Labour advert

    An early celebrity endorsement. Actor Martin Freeman - aka Dr Watson and Bilbo Baggins - gives his support for Labour in a new party broadcast. In it, he says the election is "a choice between two completely different sets of values". He says Labour's values are those of "community, compassion, fairness - I think, all the best things about this country". He also claims that "it seems that the Tories don't really believe in the NHS" and have "sod all to offer the young", in a film which also features the voice of fellow Labour supporter David Tennant.

  82. Robin Brant, BBC political correspondent

    @robindbrant

    tweets: New #ge2015 poster from @UKIP (not unveiled yet)

    UKIP van
  83. Laura Kuenssberg, BBC Newsnight chief correspondent

    @bbclaurak

    tweets: At UKIP launch, they are outside Home of EU parl in London, numbers of snappers they could only have dreamt of 5 yrs ago

  84. Simon Hughes on coalition

    Simon Hughes

    Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes says his party has "played our part" in delivering one of the highest rates of growth in Europe. "Nobody's pretending that people are having an easy time," he says, "but we've pulled the economy back from the brink and we're proud of that." He says the Lib Dems in coalition have been able to stop the Conservatives "doing extreme things that we thought were bad for the country". He also claims that his party's record on tuition fees "comes up rarely" on the doorstep now.

  85. Bus stopped?

    Labour battle van with AA van

    Oh dear, looks like there might be trouble with Labour's gold bus before it even gets going. Insert "wheels have come off/campaign stalled/etc" joke here...

  86. 'End to austerity'

    Nicola Sturgeon on the campaign trail in Glasgow

    Not quite kissing a baby but almost hugging one... Nicola Sturgeon has also been campaigning in Glasgow this morning. As Gordon Brown promised - just across town in fact - that this was "a social justice election", the SNP leader told another audience: "We can achieve an end to the austerity cuts - implemented by the Tories and backed by Labour - which are causing so much damage in our communities and holding our economy back."

  87. Party positions

    Norman Smith

    Assistant political editor

    The battle lines are drawn. The Conservatives will focus remorselessly on the economy and leadership, while Labour want to concentrate on the NHS and the cost of living. The Lib Dems, meanwhile, are promising to cut less that the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour. UKIP have been focusing on immigration and proposing to introduce an Australian-style points system.

  88. Tamara Cohen, Daily Mail political correspondent

    @tamcohen

    tweets: Lord Ashdown says he's an expert in 'cruel and unusual punishments' and they will be used on any lib dem who talks about a 2nd coalition

  89. 'Desperate and made up'

    BBC Radio 4

    Also on the World at One, Labour Treasury spokesman Chris Leslie says Paul Johnson's assessment of the £3,000 number "put the nail in the coffin of these totally desperate and made up figures" from the Conservatives.

    Chris Leslie
  90. Shapps defends Conservatives' sums

    BBC Radio 4

    Grant Shapps

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps defended the £3,000 figure a short time ago on the World at One, after IFS head Paul Johnson said the calculation made the assumption - which Labour denies - that Ed Miliband would balance the current budget by 2017 and raise half the money needed to do that through tax rises. "We've already been told by Labour that they subscribe to £30 billion of consolidation over the next two years," Mr Shapps says. He adds:"All we're saying is this is how it would fall on working people."

  91. James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    @jameschappers

    tweets:@NicolaSturgeon 's net approval rating across UK is +7, compared to Cameron -5, Miliband -39, Clegg -47. Will she win Thursday's debate?

  92. Brown speech

    Gordon Brown

    From a distance it could be 2010 all over again... Gordon Brown gave a speech a short time ago in Glasgow. He announced that Labour would spend an extra £800 million in Scotland on the NHS, tackling poverty and creating jobs if they're elected.

  93. About the £3,000 figure

    Anthony Reuben

    Head of statistics

    More on the Conservatives' claim that under a Labour government, taxes would have to rise by £3,000 per working household in Britain. Well, the figure has been repeated in a Tory graphic and also in David Cameron's speech. And it's become more specific - it's now £3,028 per working family, which puts the total raised by 11.2 million households at £33.9bn. Now, the Conservatives say that Labour has committed to save £30bn a year - half through tax rises and half through spending cuts. Labour denies this and says the figures are made up. If they aren't made up, £3,028 per working household would raise considerably more than the half of £30bn that the Conservatives say they need.

  94. Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor

    @bbckamal

    tweets: Two of the businesses quoted in FT advert - SCM Direct and Redbus - tell @markabroad they were happy to be quoted and back Labour on EU

  95. Miliband protest

    Protesters outside Labour event

    This was the welcome Ed Miliband and Ed Balls received earlier in the City. Protesters dressed as Alex Salmond, criticising any possible government involving Labour and the SNP.

  96. 'Unhelpful' tax claim

    BBC Radio 4

    Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has examined the Conservatives' claim that households would pay £3,000 more in tax under a Labour government. He tells BBC Radio 4's the World at One that the total figure is not an annual one but a figure over four years, which has been divided by the number of working households, rather than all households. "If you simply say it's a £3,000 increase in taxes, I think that's unhelpful," he adds.

  97. Ross Hawkins, BBC political correspondent

    @rosschawkins

    tweets: (Fair enough for Labour to highlight worried businesses, but must have known we'd do a ring round)

  98. House of Commons

    @HouseofCommons

    tweets: Parliament returns on 18 May and the State Opening will be on 27 May. See key dates for #GE2015 here

  99. Kellogg's 'concerned' about Labour ad

    Kamal Ahmed, BBC Business Editor

    Kellogg's has joined Siemens in voicing disquiet about Labour's advertisement in the FT. A spokesman said: "We were told about this on Sunday afternoon and we were really clear that we are not party political. We were concerned about it." The spokesman said that "eyebrows were raised internally" about the use of the quote. It appears that the company was told about the advert when it was too late to remove the quote, which is from a speech by Jonathan Myers, head of Kellogg's UK and EU operations, made in Manchester in March 2014.

  100. In Pictures

    Here's a gallery of some of the images from the fledgling election campaign for you to enjoy over lunch. Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Nigel Farage and some cute animals all feature.

  101. More on Siemens

    Juergen Maier

    "Certainly for the [Financial Times] article to be very closely aligned to a 'Vote Labour' campaign is not what Siemens would want," UK chief executive Juergen Maier tells BBC special correspondent Lucy Manning.

  102. Siemens boss on Labour

    Siemens UK chief executive Juergen Maier spoke to the BBC a short time ago. "I was informed that there was going to be comments and quotes about the position of the Labour Party and the EU and as you know I am very supportive of Britain remaining in the EU," he said. "I'm not saying that they've overstepped the mark. What I'm saying is that we don't want to see our comments attributed to specifically to any one political party."

  103. Columnist for @TheTimes, Tim Montgomerie

    @montie

    tweets:

    @montie tweet
  104. Paddy Ashdown, ex Leader of the Lib Dems

    @paddyashdown

    tweets: Just seen the Tory Battle bus - mistook it for the BA shuttle to Gatwick!

  105. 'Deal breaker'

    Daily Politics

    Live on BBC Two

    Stewart Hosie

    If Labour continued to fund the UK's Trident weapons system this would be "a deal breaker on any sort of long-term arrangement" says SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie, on the BBC 2's Daily Politics.

  106. Post update

    @DailyMirror

    The Mirror

    tweets:

    @DailyMirror tweet
  107. Carole Walker, BBC political correspondent

    @carolewalkercw

    tweets: David Cameron's campaign battle bus. I will be spending a lot of time on board in next 6 weeks

    Conservative battle bus
  108. BBC Reality Check

    @BBCRealityCheck

    tweets:

    @BBCRealityCheck tweet
  109. 'Simply quoted public statements'

    Ed Miliband

    Ed Miliband has defended Labour's use of quotes from six of Britain's biggest business leaders to warn about the risks of leaving the European Union. The boss of Siemens has said the party "overstepped the mark". Speaking at Labour's business manifesto launch, Mr Miliband said: "We've simply quoted public statements by these businesses about the place of Britain in the European Union. And I think lots of businesses all around this country are not necessarily going to be supporting Labour or the Conservatives but they do have a very strong view about our place in the EU."

  110. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    James Hales: My mother has had to sell her home and use all of her life savings to pay for her care in a residential home. 100 thousand pounds has already gone. She has never claimed any benefits in her lifetime and has always paid into the system. How do you think she feels having to sell all her assets and have nothing to pass on to her family? What is the government going to do about this situation?

  111. More on referendum risk

    Iain Watson

    Political correspondent

    Quote Message: The boss of Siemens, Juergen Maier, told me he knew in advance that Labour would include the company in their FT advert. He says he doesn't feel comfortable about being used for political purposes, but does agree with the sentiment about the risk of an EU referendum.
  112. Trending topics

    The election campaign is officially under way, but the political chatter is yet to knock #WrestleMania (which has nothing to do with Ed Miliband's toughness) off of top spot in Twitter's trends.

    Downing Street was a hot topic as we waited for David Cameron to emerge - but it was a fox chasing a duck outside Number 10 that had people tweeting. The BBC's Rebecca Keating wondered if it was UKIP ramping up their "fox in the Westminster hen house" line...

    The Green Party mug (left) and the Labour Party mug (right)

    The Green Party is also garnering some attention after releasing their own mug in response to a Labour vessel carrying their "Controls on immigration" pledge that got a lot of criticism at the weekend.

    Meanwhile, there are three #GE2015 stories trending on Facebook: Reality TV star Katie Hopkins vowing to leave the UK if Labour win the election; a combative interview by the BBC's Andrew Neil with Labour campaign co-ordinator Lucy Powell; and a new satirical mash-up video by Cassetteboy that takes aim at Mr Cameron, George Osborne and Nigel Farage.

  113. Referendum risk

    Daily Politics

    Live on BBC Two

    Labour's Pat McFadden faced questions a few moments ago on BBC 2's Daily Politics on the subject of Europe. "Exit from the EU places a major question mark over our trade and jobs," he said. That, of course, ties in with Ed Miliband's message this morning on the threat of a referendum to business. Read more here.

  114. Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror

    @Kevin_Maguire

    tweets: Just some of the things Cameron forgot to mention on steps of No 10: lower pay, zero-hours contracts, food banks, bedroom tax, NHS queues...

  115. Nicholas Watt, the Guardian

    @nicholaswatt

    tweets: PMs rarely mention opponent's name. 3 mentions of @Ed_Miliband shows need to highlight binary choice at heart of @Conservatives campaign

  116. Labour 'chaos'

    “This election takes place when the world is dangerous and uncertain. We need strong leadership to safeguard our national and our economic security,” says David Cameron. He adds that after the election it will either be himself or Ed Miliband who will be prime minister and voting for the latter would spell “chaos”.

  117. James Chapman, Daily Mail political editor

    @jameschappers

    tweets: Cameron, on steps of No10, seeks to crystallise the choice: 'The next Prime Minister walking through that door will be me or Ed Miliband'

  118. PM speech

    “Britain is back on her feet again,” says the prime minister outside No 10.

    David Cameron
  119. Cameron speaks

    "Together we are turning our country around. We must see this thorugh together," David Cameron says.

  120. Pic: Battle buses

    Lib Dem and Conservative battle buses
  121. Greens 'must do better' on BME

    BBC Asian Network

    Bennett

    Green Party leader Natalie Bennett appears on the BBC's Asian Network and admits the party is not doing very well with fielding black and minority ethnic (BME) candidates: "There was a survey that we ran - which was incomplete because we're still selecting candidates now - that we ran 4% and I'm very disappointed in that figure and it needs to increase.

    "I'm proud of the fact that we have the first, I believe, BME deputy leader Shahrar Ali that any political party has had. But we've got to do a lot better on this, we have a very good record on gender of candidates and we're looking to transfer all the mechanisms we used to promote women candidates to promote BME candidates."

  122. Visiting the Queen

    Nick Clegg just walked into the palace and moments later the PM came back out again. Wonder if they exchanged a word or two as they passed in the corridor...

  123. Soho squat

    Outside of the main political parties, other campaign launches are happening this week. Left Unity, a broad left party formed in 2013, said it had chosen a Soho squat as its venue to highlight the number of large buildings sitting empty in London. Film director Ken Loach, who co-founded the party, will attend the launch tomorrow. Left Unity is planning to stand candidates in around 10 constituencies, mainly where Labour has a big majority.

  124. James Forsyth

    @JGForsyth

    The Spectator

    tweets: Ukip will be disappointed: Farage several places away from Cameron in debate lineup: NB, Clegg, Farage, Mili, LW, Sturgeon DC via @paulwaugh

  125. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Brian Dodson: If "MPs" are in between jobs am I correct in assuming they will not be receiving salary or expenses?

  126. 'Threatening a lurch'

    Here’s a bit more from Nick Clegg, who gave a press conference outside No 10 a short time ago.

    Quote Message: "It is my view that the era of single-party government is now over in British politics. About the very last thing the country now needs is a lurch to the left or the right and yet that is exactly what the Conservative and Labour parties are now threatening.” from Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister
    Nick CleggDeputy Prime Minister
  127. BBC's Robin Brant

    @robindbrant

    tweets: acc to @tnewtondunn the line up for debate on thursday sees farage next to @Ed_Miliband with @David_Cameron on the end, which he'll like

  128. Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of the Sun

    @tnewtondunn

    tweets: Revealed - Thursday's 7 way debate stage order: Left to right; Bennett, Clegg, Farage, Miliband, Wood, Sturgeon, Cameron.

  129. Pic: Clegg leaving Downing Street

    Nick Clegg
  130. Miliband on donors

    “We don’t always do what our donors say,” says Ed Miliband, continuing his Q&A in the City. The audience laugh as he says that is what makes his party different from the Conservatives. He was asked a question about Assem Allam, who is one of the party’s biggest donors but disagrees with some of Mr Miliband’s views on business. Mr Miliband insists Labour is taking a “pro-business approach”.

  131. Clegg heads to the palace

    Nick Clegg has just left Downing Street to make his way to Buckingham Palace.

  132. Andy Bell, 5 News political editor

    @andybell5news

    tweets: Miliband tells me Labour is a pro business party not a "business as usual" party #GE2015

  133. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Pensioner: As a pensioner I have no trust in Labour. They will increase taxes to pay for deficit and the NHS. Conservatives on the other hand they have done a good job to create more jobs.

  134. Iain Watson, BBC political correspondent

    @iainjwatson

    tweets: Challenged that some of the businesses in a Labour FT advert don't support the party, Ed Miliband says they believe UK must stay in EU

  135. Cameron meeting the Queen

    A rather windswept David Cameron leaving Downing Street a short time ago. We expect him to spend roughly 20 minutes with the Queen. 

    David Cameron
  136. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    BBC News website reader: If the Tory-led coalition have done such a great job how come the rich have got so much richer whilst the majority of us have got a great deal poorer, the NHS is on its knees, productivity is at its lowest for decades etc!

  137. Get involved

    Text: 61124

    Ursula from Driffield, East Yorkshire: The SNP will hold the rest of the UK to ransom for favours given to labour party! This is a very frightening thought for the rest of us.

  138. Cameron at the Palace

    PM's car

    The prime minister's car arrives at the palace.

  139. PM arrives

    Nicholas Witchell

    Royal correspondent

    This is a courtesy call to inform to Queen that Parliament has been dissolved. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act means the royal prerogative is no longer required.

  140. PM leaves Downing Street

    David Cameron
  141. Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor

    @bbckamal

    tweets: Siemens on Labour: "We did not give them permission [to use the quote]. We did not know about this. We are an a-political organisation."

  142. Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor

    @bbckamal

    tweets: Am told Siemens not happy their UK CEO quoted in Labour business manifesto advert in FT. Spokeswoman tells me Lab "over-stepped the mark"

  143. Off to see the Queen

    David Cameron leaves Downing Street on his journey to Buckingham Palace.

  144. Journalist Rob Merrick

    @Rob_Merrick

    tweets: My 8-year-old didn't like me coming to work in school hols just because there's an election..."Why can't David Cameron carry on doing it?"

  145. 'Keep the Tories out'

    Nicola Sturgeon

    SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon tells Scottish voters to vote SNP "if you want Scotland's voice to be heard in the next House of Commons". She urges voters to "send a big SNP team to Westminster". She repeats an assertion that the SNP would "never put the Tories into office". She adds that "if there are more anti-Tory MPs" than Conservatives after the election then, "if we work together, we can keep the Tories out of office".

  146. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Graeme Lowe: Ed Miliband is right to say that business is wary of the Conservatives' plan for an EU referendum but what he doesn't say is that business is much more worried about an SNP/Labour double act.

  147. Get involved

    Email: politics@bbc.co.uk

    Alistair shields, Surrey: So we have begun with a duck and fox in Downing Street? Ken Livingstone claims proportional representation is the way forward and the greens want to implement Stalinism while the SNP already seem to have done that at their conference. How will we sustain such excitement until voting day?

  148. Blogger Guido Fawkes

    @GuidoFawkes

    catches out Labour candidate Lucy Powell as she fails to change her Twitter bio from "MP" to "candidate". She referred to her middle name in her reply, but did in the meantime change her bio.

    @GuidoFawkes tweet
  149. 'Historic government'

    Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, on his way to see the Queen, tells reporters: "This has been a historic government." It was formed during an economic emergency "by two parties acting in the national interest", he claims. The Lib Dem leader argues that "the last thing the country now needs is a lurch to the left or the right" under Labour or the Conservatives, and reckons his party will do "massively better than some of the low expectations that have been set for us".

  150. Pic: Deputy PM meets the press

    Nick Clegg
  151. 'Two years of uncertainty'

    Ed Miliband says that the Conservatives would mean a UK "inside the European Union banging on the door to leave or, even worse, outside the European Union banging on the door to be let back in". The run up to a referendum, which the Tories have promised in 2017, means "two years of uncertainty", Mr Miliband argues. The UK "must be a committed member of a reformed European Union" instead.

  152. 'Must provide apprenticeship'

    Any firm that gets a government contract "must provide apprenticeships for the next generation", Ed Miliband says.“We will start a revolution in vocational educational,” he promises.

  153. 'Chance to succeed'

    "Britain can only succeed when all businesses have the chance to succeed," Ed Miliband says. This includes "the multinational company and the family firm". In his election campaign speech at Bloomberg in London, the Labour leader says his party will balance the books, invest in infrastructure and "won't risk jobs, exports and investment" or cause "years of uncertainty by threatening to leave the European Union".

  154. Miliband speech begins

    Miliband
  155. Post update

  156. UKIP's priorities

    Robin Brant, BBC Political Correspondent

    UKIP has long faced the accusation that it is simply a one-man band. A Farage cult. It's something he and the party have repeatedly dismissed. But this election is all about Nigel. UKIP's number one priority is to get him elected to Parliament. This is his sixth and almost certainly last attempt. If he doesn't win in South Thanet he's said he'll resign as leader, leaving UKIP minus its biggest asset. UKIP has branched out with a raft of new policies but immigration remains at the core. A demand for a referendum on leaving the EU is top of its wish list. UKIP is targeting around 20 seats. The very least it has to do to have a good night on 7 May is hold Clacton and Rochester and get Farage elected in Kent. Two things are certain in the coming weeks: there will be organised anti-UKIP protests on the campaign trail and elements of racism (isolated elements, the party says) will emerge from within it, again.

  157. #MyFirstElection: A working graduate

    Victoria Matthie

    Victoria Matthie has recently graduated from university in Liverpool, and now works at a law firm in Manchester. She tells 5 Live's My First Election series that she wants politicians to help young people succeed in their careers and get onto the property ladder. You can watch here.

  158. Conservative strategy

    BBC correspondent Jonny Dymond

    The Conservative challenge is not a simple one. A political strategy that revolves around beating a simple message - "We've got a plan, Labour will ruin it" - into voters' heads for six long weeks already feels thin. A nervy interview last week and some patchy polls will not have boosted the morale of party campaigners. The party needs to lever seats out of the hands of Labour in English constituencies, and to take Liberal Democrat strongholds; that needs to be done from the political centre. At the same time it needs to push back a challenge from the right, in the form of UKIP, without alienating latte-loving metropolitan sophisticates or pragmatic business backers.

  159. Labour's gold bus?

    Labour battle van

    You've seen the pink bus, now there's this. Apparently it's gold, according to Getty who took the picture.

  160. UK 'can overtake Germany'

    BBC News Channel

    Grant Shapps

    Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps wants to get across a "positive" message on the economy. He tells the BBC: "We overtook France in the last year as the second-biggest economy in Europe. We can overtake Germany in perhaps 10 or 15 years if we carry this on. Or we can throw it all away." He repeats the accusation that Labour would "slam families with another £3,000 in tax". He also uses David Cameron's phrase that voters face a "stark choice" between the parties.

  161. Conservative tax claims

    Reality Check

    The Reality Check team is having a think about the figure tweeted by the Conservative Party press office this morning, that “@Ed_Milibandwill also raise taxes on every working family in Britain by £3,000”. Labour says this figure is “totally made up” and the Conservatives say they won’t show us their workings until the prime minister has spoken. Just looking at what the figures would mean though, according to theOffice for National Statisticsthere are 11.6 million working households in the UK. If you exclude Northern Ireland to get a figure for working families in Britain you get to about 11.2 million. If each of them will be paying an extra £3,000, they will raise about 33.6bn. So, we’re waiting for details from the Tories of why Labour needs to raise an extra £33.6bn in taxes.

  162. Campaign kicks off

    Another contender for most cheerful politician of the day. Nigel Farage brandishing UKIP's pledge card earlier.

    Nigel Farage
  163. Grant Shapps, Conservative candidate

    @grantshapps

    tweets: About to join @BBCNews to discuss the General Election - formally launching today. A clear choice: competence with @Conservatives or chaos!

  164. Fixed-term Parliament

    BBC News Channel

    The Parliament that has just been dissolved was fixed at five years under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Before that, prime ministers had the power to call an election at an earlier time if they chose to. Prof Vernon Bogdanor tells the BBC that the act came about because the Lib Dems wanted "a kind of fixed-term contract" for their coalition deal with the Conservatives. "It's very controversial," he adds. "It could be repealed in the next Parliament."

  165. David Cameron

    @David_Cameron

    You Tube