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Summary

  1. Two UKIP election candidates were suspended and a third stood down, complaining of bullying and racism.
  2. Campaigners criticised calls from a committee of MPs for a ban on identifying people who are arrested for sexual offences in England and Wales.
  3. Plans to overhaul transport across the North of England - including with multi-billion pound rail schemes - were laid out by government
  4. There are 48 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Dominic Howell and Angela Harrison

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Recap

    Here's a quick recap of today's main political stories:

    That's it for tonight folks, see you at 08:00 GMT on Sunday.

  2. Tomorrow's papers

    Here's a quick teaser as to what will be in a few of tomorrow's papers:

    • The Independent leads on the identification of a major Labour donor which it claims the party has "tried to keep secret" - he's a hedge fund manager. The Times has a statement from the donor, released via Labour, in which he says there is "no mystery" around his identity, and he's "proud" to support the party.
    • The Financial Times reports that weeks before major changes to pension schemes come into effect, "hundreds of thousands of savers" remain unable to arrange the free guidance the government has offered.
    • The Sun's front page mixes coverage of the eclipse and the acquittal of four of its journalists charged with making illegal payments to public officials, under the punning headline: "the Sun Smiles."
  3. 'Groomed online'

    Theresa MAy

    The Home Secretary Theresa May has been speaking about the dangers of children being groomed online by extremists. In light of the recent stories about teenagers heading to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) Ms May called on mothers and fathers to become more aware of what their children got up to online. During a ministerial visit in the Welsh capital, she said: "I think that parents don't sometimes realise the impact of the internet and particularly social media.

    "Sometimes they don't know what interactions their children are having and what is going on can be effectively unseen by parents. One of the messages that I want to give to parents is that if you are concerned they might be being radicalised or if they might be thinking of going to Syria to join terrorist groups please say something as soon possible."

  4. Saturday's Times

    The Times
  5. James Chapman, Daily Mail

    @jameschappers

    tweets: Boris on political selfies: "You're importuning for their vote.. at least give something back, no matter how trivial"

  6. Newsnight

    @BBCNewsnight

    Tweets: Schools reform weighed down by a "gradgrind" from ministers and held back by "conservative elements" @TristramHuntMP told #newsnight

  7. Saturday's Express

    Express
  8. Saturday's Telegraph

    Telegraph
  9. UKIP's turbulent day

    Chris Mason

    Political correspondent, BBC News

    "UKIP are a weather-changing party... but one which bounces off internal turbulence. With three incidents today, it will be intriguing to see whether it affects their standing. They seem to defy gravity - these kinds of headlines don't seem to make a difference."

  10. Tomorrow's Guardian front page

    #bbcpapers #tomorrowspaperstoday

    Guardian
  11. SNP poll

    An article gaining interest at politicshome.com highlights the latest research carried out by Survation for the Daily Record, which puts the SNP on 47% to Labour's 26%. If that were replicated at the general election it would see Nicola Sturgeon's party pick up 53 out of 59 Scottish Westminster seats, while the Lib Dems would be left with just one MP in Scotland.

  12. Saturday's i

    i
  13. Steel: 'No more coalitions'

    Rebecca Keating

    BBC News

    The former Liberal leader, Lord Steel, says "the most" Liberal Democrats would accept in another hung parliament is a "confidence and supply" deal.

    With polls predicting no clear winner at May's general election, the Liberal Democrats could be called upon to shore up a Conservative- or Labour-led government.

    Lord Steel, who agreed the Lib-Lab pact with Jim Callaghan's government in the 1970s, told The Week in Parliament there was a "general feeling" the Liberal Democrats needed to "recharge our values".

    "I'm pretty certain that the mood in the party will be to say the very most we would accept would be confidence and supply," he said.

    "I don't think there will be a mood in the party to go into another coalition with either party," he said.

  14. Saturday's Independent

    independent front page
  15. FT front page

    #bbcpapers #tomorrowspaperstoday

    FT
  16. Rape allegation myths

    Campaigners say proposals to bring back a ban on identifying people arrested for sexual offences in England and Wales would "institutionalise the myth that lots of women lie about rape". Lisa Longstaff, from Women Against Rape, told BBC News the cross-party group of MPs calling for the change had been influenced by celebrities and that such a ban would prevent other victims from coming forward. The Home Affairs Committee says the names of suspects should not be published by the media until they're charged - unless police believe there are "exceptional" circumstances.

  17. Saturday' s Daily Mail

    Front page of Daily Mail
  18. What is British-ness?

    BBC Radio 4 Any Questions

    Asked "What is British-ness?", the panel seem almost united, mentioning tolerance, fair play, respect for individuals and freedom. Mark Littlewood says there is a "strand of small-l liberalism, live-and-live attitude to people that is shared across the political spectrum".

  19. Anonymity for sex crime suspects

    BBC Radio 4

    On the subject of whether suspects of sex crimes should remain anonymous until they are charged - which is an idea mooted by the Home Affairs Select Committee - Labour's Chris Leslie says he thinks it "legitimate" in a case where there are multiple victims "that we do have to have some of that information available". But he accepts that it is a difficult issue. Tory Patrick McLoughlin wades in, and makes reference to the case of BBC presenter Paul Gambaccini who was put through what was described as "12 months of trauma", and then never charged. "That is just not acceptable, once that air of suspicion comes over somebody and then is not charged," says Mr McLoughlin, but he adds "but I don't want to see anything that stops prosecutions taking place".

  20. Attacks on female politicians

    BBC Radio 4 Any Questions

    Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt says she and other female politicians have suffered attacks on social media and elsewhere.

    Some had had a "dreadful time for their faith, size.. the way they dress". It had to be stopped, she said and the perpetrators charged.

  21. Will you tell?

    BBC Radio 4 Any Questions

    Jonathan Dimbleby pressed the Conservative and Labour politicians on where they would cut and where they would find money, asking "Will you tell people where the cuts will come or not?"

    Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, says there needs to be "some more frank discussions in the run up the election", adding: "We've got to be honest with pensioners and say 'Your pensions are going to rise in line with inflation but we are already borrowing money from ... the next generation and the un-conceived, and that has to stop'."

    Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt says the party thinks it can alter the TV licence and winter fuel allowance for better-off pensioners and that the party will set out its departmental cut plans before the election.

    David Dimbleby says there were only eight Lib Dems in the Commons for the "yellow budget", but Tessa Munt says many were busy working in their constituencies.

  22. Budget talk

    BBC Radio 4 Any Questions

    Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie MP tells Any Questions in the budget the Chancellor "wanted you to go away thinking everything is fantastic...only problem is, that is not the experience everyone is having". He said the main area of difference between Labour and the coalition was in dealing with the deficit.

    Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP said every Labour government had left office with higher unemployment levels than when it came in. There are many areas where we have made advances, he said, but there is more to do and we have to pay back some of the debt Labour ran up.

  23. Any Questions

    BBC Radio 4 Any Questions

    Starting shortly is Any Questions with Jonathan Dimbleby and guests from Aston University in Birmingham. On the panel tonight are Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie MP, Director General of the the Institute for Economic Affairs, Mark Littlewood, Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, and Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt.

  24. 'Wipe the smile off'

    Nick Clegg says the Liberal Democrats will "wipe the smile off" Alex Salmond's face by beating him in the general election in the Gordon constituency in Aberdeenshire. An opinion poll in Scotland today put support for the Lib Dems at just 4%, but Mr Clegg insists his party "will do so much better than anyone thinks".

    He told a rally at the party's Scottish conference in Aberdeen the Liberal Democrats had shown "incredible resilience in the past five years", and this had helped them to achieve "incredible things".

    He said: "That resilience will see off the SNP challenge in the seats we hold. And it will wipe the smile off Alex Salmond's face in Gordon too."

  25. 'Dressed up policies'

    The Independent

    Across at the Independent, journalist Duncan Exley is providing some analysis to this week's Budget. He said that Chancellor George Osborne has "dressed up policies for the very richest as support for the 'middle class'". He writes: "Increasing the 40p income tax threshold doesn't help the average Briton."

  26. Chancellors' 'debate'

    Sky News

    Ed Balls and George Osborne

    Here's the latest news about the election debates and other TV coverage. Sky News and Facebook say they will host an Ask The Chancellors event next Monday that will involve separate sessions with George Osborne and Ed Balls. They will be quizzed by an audience of entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and local businesses for 30 minutes each during the live broadcast, which will be followed by a Facebook question and answer session for a further 15 minutes. Last week Mr Balls challenged his rival to a head-to-head debate.

  27. 'Not the be all and end all'

    James Landale

    Deputy Political Editor, BBC News

    James Landale (left) with Hermance Clegg and Nick Clegg

    The Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said he's "never thought politics is the be all and end all".

    In an interview with BBC deputy political editor James Landale, he "insists the pollsters and the critics will be proved wrong", but also is "prepared to contemplate what might happen if he was not successful".

  28. Are millions wasted on gulls?

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Gulls on River Thames in Westminster

    Gulls are said to be a major problem in some towns with a report that the prime minister once had the ham stolen from his sandwich. In his Budget speech, George Osborne committed to spend £250,000 on research into what to do about them.

    Lib Dem MP Don Foster, who is standing down this month and has been campaigning on the issue for years, told Giles Dilnot why the aggressive birds had to be controlled. He said "millions of pounds are being wasted" on how to deal with the birds with issues over noise, mess, damage and causing illnesses. Watch their interview

  29. UKIP 'expenses' suspension

    Janice Atkinson

    The Kent and Essex Police have received a report of fraud following the suspension of South East MEP Janice Atkinson from UKIP (left). There have been claims of financial misconduct concerning a member of her staff. Ms Atkinson was due to challenge the Conservatives in Folkestone and Hythe at the general election - but will now face a UKIP disciplinary panel on Monday.

  30. Child abuse

    Yvette Cooper

    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper says child abuse is not being given "the focus, time and resource needed". Her comments follow the news that 260 people have been charged under Operation Notarise, which targeted people suspected of looking at images of child abuse on the internet. Ms Cooper says this is "a tiny proportion of the cases the [National Crime Agency] NCA are aware of", saying the agency has details of at least 20,000 people who have accessed child abuse images, but has arrested fewer than 1,000.

    The NCA says the 260 charged include 16 teachers or school and college staff, a retired magistrate, two doctors and a police service employee.

  31. UKIP resignation letter

    Jonathan Stanley, who has resigned from UKIP and stood down as the party's candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale, has released his resignation letter. He writes: "Recent performances in the handling of issues in Scotland, in the banning of migrant children from state funded education, and in health care have left me unable to campaign for UKIP.

    "This is a sad decision for me."

  32. Unite leader on strike rules

    Len McCluskey

    The head of the Unite union Len McCluskey says he will not "respect" any law passed by a future Conservative government tightening the rules on strike ballots.

    David Cameron has said strikes should not be lawful unless a minimum number of union members vote in a ballot.

    Len McCluskey said this would "oppress the people and remove their freedoms", adding, "Can we respect it? It ain't going to happen."

  33. Leadership - LBC

    Asked about the whether Boris Johnson might be the leader of the Tory party in the future, George Osborne said: "All this speculation about the leadership seems to be predicated on the fact that there might be a vacancy." He said he knew David Cameron "pretty well" and knew he wanted to lead his party. Mr Osborne also added that he personally doesn't think about about one day leading his party, instead he just wants to "focus on the job in hand".

  34. Guardian's of the Galaxy

    Asked on LBC radio which song would get him on to the dance floor, Chancellor George Osborne says: "I quite like The Killers and Spaceman... I also bought the soundtrack to a movie The Guardian's of the Galaxy, it's brilliant."

  35. Chancellors' debate

    On LBC, Mr Osborne is asked about the prospect of a "chancellors' debate" including Danny Alexander from the Liberal Democrats.

    "To paraphrase Ed Miliband - anytime anywhere," he says.

  36. 'Weak opposition' - LBC

    "It would be madness to go back to that chaos," is how Chancellor George Osborne describes a potential Labour government on 8 May. "They don't have a serious economic argument," he adds. Speaking on LBC, he says "there is an absence of argument from the Labour Party" and describes them as "quite a weak opposition".

  37. National debt - LBC

    Osborne says that the national deficit might sound like an "abstract concept", but it "means that this country has to spend billions of pounds on the debt that we owe". He says that it stems growth and needs reducing.

  38. Osborne on LBC

    George Osborne is on LBC Radio. He's talking about the concept of the "northern powerhouse". He said that historically "the Conservative Party was always a bit shy of talking about the north of England". He quickly adds though that "the gap between North and South grew under the last [Labour] government." And he believes that in his Budget he has put forward the Conservative answer "to what is clearly geographical imbalances".

  39. The week in 60 seconds

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Danny Alexander with yellow Budget box

    A red box, a yellow box, Nigel Farage's book, Shapps and/or Green, and coalition talks all feature in a one-minute video guide to the political week from Daily Politics reporter Adam Fleming. Watch it here

  40. 'Drifting through corridors'

    Mark D'Arcy

    Parliamentary correspondent

    In his blog, Mark reports on a peculiar atmosphere in the House of Commons today....

    "Those who remain seem, mostly, to be MPs who're not coming back (voluntarily or otherwise) who drift through the corridors with an abstracted air of premature nostalgia, along with a retinue of parliamentary staffers who'll be uncertain of their future, too," he writes.

    Mark also looks ahead to next week - which will be the last few days of this Parliament.

  41. Farron for Lib Dem leader?

    Tim Farron

    Over at the New Statesman it seems reporter George Eaton knows something we don't... Namely, that Tim Farron will be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats - and even current Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg knows it. The two men couldn't be further apart politically and personally, Mr Eaton writes. Mr Farron is described in the New Statesman piece as "left-leaning, northern (Farron grew up in Preston), comprehensive-educated, Christian and folksy".

  42. Howd statement

    There has been a statement from Stephen Howd of UKIP, who has been suspended, the party says, pending an investigation in to allegations about an "incident" at his office.

    The prospective parliamentary candidate for Scunthorpe, who is a barrister, said: "Allegations of harassment have been made against me. The allegations are contested. They are now the subject of Tribunal proceedings and as such the matter is sub judice and it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment."

  43. Police charges

    Police say 260 people have been charged following a national investigation targeting suspected paedophiles. The National Crime Agency said eight teachers and six government workers were among them, including someone working in the office of a police and crime commissioner.

  44. 'Desperately seeking Nigel'

    House of Commons

    Parliament

    In the Commons, Laura Sandys made her final speech, paying tribute to her constituency of South Thanet where Nigel Farage and 'the Pub Landlord' are standing for election. She said: "I am pleased that my departure has further supported the local economy with half the lobby spending a lot of time in the pubs in my constituency desperately seeking Nigel and hunting down the pub landlord. I am pleased that my departure has offered the pubs, bars and hotels such roaring business."

    Fellow Conservative Sir Edward Leigh, said Laura Sandys was described by the Times newspaper's parliamentary sketch writer as one of the few sane members of the House.

  45. UKIP candidate quits

    More on the departure of UKIP candidate Jonathan Stanley, who has quit the party. It's been reported in the Westmoreland Gazette that he complains UKIP were "not serious" about winning the seat. Reporter Patrick Christys says the party is expected to appoint a new candidate next Wednesday. He quotes a UKIP spokesman as saying: "We are treating Mr Stanley's comments with the incredulity they deserve.

    "Mr Stanley and the party have been drifting apart politically for sometime and his resignation comes as no surprise to us. However, we wish him all the best for the future."

  46. Defence official jailed

    It can now be reported that a Ministry of Defence official, Bettina Jordan-Barber, has been jailed for 12 months after selling stories to the The Sun newspaper for a total of £100,000. She admitted conspiring to commit misconduct in public office. The fact was made public at the end of an Old Bailey trial which saw four Sun journalists cleared of paying public officials for stories.

  47. And it's goodbye from him...

    Right, that's it from Matt West and Tom Espiner for today. One of the big political stories today has been the suspension of not one, but two UKIP prospective parliamentary candidates in one day. We leave you in the capable hands of Dominic Howell and Angela Harrison, who will will bringing you the latest politics news until midnight.

  48. UKIP candidate quits

    In yet more news about UKIP, Jonathan Stanley has quit as the party's general election candidate for Westmorland and Lonsdale, claiming there is "open racism and sanctimonious bullying" within the party.

  49. Stephen Howd UKIP suspension

    Sarah Burton

    BBC broadcast journalist

    An update on the suspension of UKIP prospect parliamentary candidate for Scunthorpe, Stephen Howd. A spokesperson for the barristers' regulator, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), said: "We can confirm that a complaint has been received about Mr Howd and that charges have been served in relation to this. We cannot comment further at this point."

  50. Labour election campaign poster

    Labour poster

    One of the biggest concerns of the UK electorate is the fate of the NHS, according to BBC research, and here, with their new campaign poster, are Labour going for the jugular. Not one for the squeamish.

  51. Waving goodbye

    The Daily Telegraph

    Over at The Telegraph, online political editor Rosa Prince has a series on the MPs standing down at this election in which she asks them about their best and worst moments and memories of being an MP.

    Today, she features Labour's Tessa Jowell - who is to stand as London mayor - who described how a bus taking "big leaders" to the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games got lost, and Universities Minister David Willetts, who told her that on his first day in the Commons he was mistaken for someone coming to fix the central heating.

  52. Ed Miliband - Zero hours contracts

    Ed Miliband

    A question from the floor of the Federation of Small Business Conference on zero hours contracts. Andrew Postlethwaite, who runs a business reconstructing murder scenes for the police, says he uses people on zero hours contracts. "If murders don't happen on a regular basis, I can't employ people to do the work," he says.

    After commenting on the unusual nature of the question, Mr Miliband says: "What you don't want is people on zero hours contracts when they're actually doing regular work month after month... I don't actually think is a big issue in most small businesses.

    "I think this is some of the larger businesses.. who are doing this... There's a place you get to where the burden of risk is only falling on the employee, and if you're a large employer I think some of the risk has to be borne by you."

  53. Clarkson petition delivered

    Blonde girl sat on tank outside BBC

    Pretty sure this is a first. Political blogger Guido Fawkes has a penchant for the physical metaphor, and here once again he's at it, actually parking a tank on the BBC's... erm... lawn. Can't think why. We suppose it might have something to do with some bloke called... Jeremy Clarkson.

  54. UKIP scandal

    Nigel Farage on the LIb Dems hompeage

    It didn't take long for one of the political parties to find a way of poking fun at Nigel Farage and UKIP over the latest expenses scandal. A day after Danny Alexander was well and truly ribbed over his yellow box, the Lib Dems have been trying out some wit themselves.

    This time it's a UKIP dinner expense claim calculator. If were were being cruel we might say this suggests a Lib Dem concern is trying to ensure UKIP remain the UK's fourth largest political party rather than becoming the third.

  55. Mark D'Arcy, BBC political correspondent

    @DArcyTiP

    tweets: Wise parting thoughts for @HouseofCommons from @Laura_Sandys - a real loss to Parliament. Tells MPs not to play gossip column game..

  56. UKIP scandal

    The World at One BBC Radio 4

    More on the UKIP expenses scandal. Tory MEP Sajjad Karim - who chairs the European Parliament's anti-sleaze advisory committee on the conduct of members - says he is seeking an investigation into the expenses practices of UKIP MEPs and others in its grouping.

    "What is even more concerning is whether this is symptomatic of the activities that may be being carried out within this group," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One earlier today.

    "I think there are now plenty of grounds to put forward an argument, and I certainly am, to the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, to open up a much wider investigation into this particular grouping's finances."

    The owner of the restaurant that hosted the function said he blew the whistle when he became aware that taxpayers' money might be at stake, not that of a private donor.

  57. Chris Mason, BBC political reporter

    @ChrisMasonBBC

    tweets: YouGov: "Our latest voting intention figures for The Sun this morning are CON 35%, LAB 33%, LDEM 8%, UKIP 13%, GRN 6%."

  58. SundayPoliticsWest

    @SunPoliticsWest

    Stonehenge

    tweets: Planning cttee at #Wiltshire Council has refused plans to create a new car park for 133 vehicles at @EH_Stonehenge

  59. Ed Miliband woos small business

    Ed Miliband

    After the spat between big business and Labour earlier this year over tax, Ed Miliband is addressing Federation of Small Business leaders at their conference. On business rates, he says: "When it comes to cutting taxes for businesses, we will put small businesses first in line," he says. "If we win the election we will straight away cut business rates, then freeze them again next year."

  60. 'Sigh of relief' in EU

    David Cameron says a few other European Union (EU) leaders - naming no names - have wished him well in his re-election efforts. But he also suggests a number of his colleagues will be "breathing a sigh of relief" if it is Ed Miliband, not him, representing the UK at the next summit in June.

    Some EU leaders want an "easy life", he suggests, and his plans for a renegotiation and referendum on the UK's membership do not fit in with that.

  61. Second UKIP candidate suspended

    Stephen Howd

    UKIP has sent a statement about the suspension of a second prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) in 24 hours. "UKIP has suspended the Scunthorpe PPC Stephen Howd whilst an investigation takes place into an alleged incident at his workplace." Mr Howd, a barrister, was the Conservative Party PPC for Cleethorpes in the 2001 general election.

  62. David Cameron on UKIP 'disasters'

    David Cameron

    Asked to comment on the suspension of Janice Atkinson, UKIP MEP for the South East, Mr Cameron said that the expenses incident looked "very serious". "It's just the latest in a whole set of catastrophic blunders, disasters, missteps by this party," he said. "And I think it underlines my point, which is, when it comes to 7 May... it is a choice of which team do you want to run the country?... This just highlights the latest example of the chaos I think we could have if we end up with a weak Labour prime minister, propped up by the SNP, having to haggle and deal with other parties."

  63. David Cameron on Grexit fears

    David Cameron

    David Cameron is talking to the press about the outcome of the latest EU leaders' summit in Brussels, the last before the general election. He says the main issue has been the crisis in Greece. "I've urged my colleagues to resolve this crisis," he says. A Greek exit from the eurozone would have a major effect on the European economic bloc, and by association, the UK, he adds.

  64. BreakingBreaking News

    Second UKIP candidate suspended

    A second UKIP candidate has been suspended by the party today. Stephen Howd, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Scunthorpe is being investigated over an alleged incident at his workplace. Mr Howd, 49, from Hook near Goole, is a barrister who is based in Leeds.

  65. Budget bounce?

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Peter Kellner

    Mr Kellner says it could be the last ten days before we see a break between the two main parties n the polls. But another weekend to look at would be Easter weekend when the first of the leader's debates are held. Mr Kellner says if one of the party leader's "does fantastically well" in the leader's debates "that could be an early game changer".

  66. Budget bounce?

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    There doesn't appear to have been much of a "Budget bounce" in the opinion polls, YouGov's Peter Kellner tells the Daily Politics.

    He says: "Over the last three or four months we've had occasionally tiny Labour leads or occasionally tiny Conservative leads". He adds he doesn't think voters see the Budget as "a screaming joy". "People are not jumping up and down shouting happy days are here again," he says

    "But on balance they are giving the government the benefit of the doubt. If you regarded the Budget as the beginning of a football match that is going to least seven weeks then they have got an early goal."

  67. UKIP scandal

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Mr Goodwin suggests that last Autumn's by-elections gave a perhaps false impression that UKIP were polling at around 19%. He suggests that the party is polling "about where we would expect them to be" in the electoral cycle. And he says the likelihood is that their share of the vote will be around 12% as the election gets closer.

    The one thing UKIP hasn't had to contend with is operating during the so-called short campaign - which begins on 30 March - when all the political parties will be subject to Ofcom regulations but when UKIP will be treated as a major party for the first time.

    That will mean that Nigel Farage will be afforded plenty of time on the airwaves, as will many members of his party. It's unclear whether that will boost votes for the party of cost them votes, Mr Goodwin says.

  68. UKIP scandal

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Mr Goodwin says there appear to be "no shortage of UKIP related scandals". The biggest problem for Nigel Farage, he says, is that "when you look at them nearly all of them are self-inflicted".

    Mr Goodwin adds: "If you're an insurgent political party, really trying to break the mould you have to have ruthless party discipline".

    George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times tells the Daily Politics, UKIP "face a danger of looking less like lovable rouges and more just like rogues".

  69. UKIP scandal

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Andrew Neil and Matthew Goodwin

    Mr Goodwin says UKIP is still a political party that is growing very quickly and might not have the formidable vetting process that most of the main bigger political parties will have.

    While today's latest scandal might not necessarily be damaging in terms of the national opinion polls, it could have an impact on those marginal seats in Kent that are looking too close to call at the moment "and that's where a scandal like this could make a difference," he says.

  70. UKIP scandal

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Dr Matthew Goodwin, an academic who specialises in right wing political parties, tells the Daily Politics that the latest UKIP scandal will contribute to "a general squeezing" of UKIP's vote share. It's down to 14% from a high of 17% last Autumn, he points out.

    He adds there is a local element here in that Janice Atkinson was due to fight the Folkestone and Hythe, which is a neighbouring constituency to Thanet South.

    Mr Goodwin says lots of voters in Thanet South will get the same news as Folkestone and Hythe, so there may well be "collateral damage that, to be blunt, Nigel Farage could do without right now".

  71. The Daily and Sunday Politics

    @daily_politics

    Daily and Sunday Politics

    Betty Boothroyd

    tweets: "I did not ask for any concessions and I never got any" Betty Boothroyd tells @Jo_Coburn in film for Friday #bbcdp

  72. Leader's debates

    Prime ministerial debate on general election

    Mr Farage's TV leader's debate comments come after a surprise announcement on Tuesday by Prime Minister David Cameron who said he had agreed with broadcasters to appear in one debate featuring seven leaders, to be hosted by ITV on April 2, as well as a separate grilling by interviewer Jeremy Paxman and an event in front of a studio audience.

    There was no confirmation of the new plan from the broadcasters - the BBC, ITV, Sky News and Channel 4 - who have previously threatened to "empty-chair" the prime minister if he failed to turn up to three planned debates during the campaign, including a head-to-head with Ed Miliband.

  73. David Aaronovitch, columnist at The Times

    @DAaronovitch

    tweets: Just to be clear, neither contention is true. Labour won't destroy the economy and the Tories won't destroy the NHS.

  74. David Aaronovitch, columnist at The Times

    @DAaronovitch

    tweets: So Labour will destroy the economy versus the Tories will destroy the NHS. Message from the 2 big parties is clear. Vote for someone else.

  75. Joe Murphy, political editor at the Evening Standard

    @JoeMurphyLondon

    tweets: BREAKING Kent police probe UKIP expenses allegation - a complaint has been received and investigation is now "ongoing"

  76. Leader's debates

    UKIP leader Nigel Farage has complained about being left out of one TV leader's debate. On his LBC radio show earlier today Mr Farage said broadcast regulator Ofcom said UKIP should be treated as a "major party" by broadcasters in allocating party election broadcasts.

    He said: "Ofcom have made it clear UKIP is one of the four major parties and it appears one of the items is a three-way Question Time with Cameron, Miliband and Clegg.

    "Everything is being done to shut out the UKIP voice. I will tell you why they want to shut UKIP out.

    "Immigration is now the biggest issue in voters' minds, because of its impact on our lives in this country. Only UKIP offers a pragmatic sensible solution of an Australian-style points system, and they will do whatever they can to stop that view being heard."

    Mr Farage is going to be involved in one TV leaders' debate under current plans.

  77. Nicola Sturgeon and post-election negotiations

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Continuing with the eclipse metaphors, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon insists she won't be over-shadowed by former SNP leader Alex Salmond, who is to stand for a Westminster seat at the general election.

    "People often say to me, would you rather Alex just retired and went away, and the answer to that is no, he's a huge force in politics, she says.

    But she insists it will be her in the room negotiating any possible coalition after the UK general election, rather than Mr Salmond.

    "There is no doubt about that. I'm the leader of the SNP, I'm the first minister of Scotland," she says.

    On any post election negotiations with Labour leader Ed Miliband, she reiterates that a formal coalition between Ed Miliband and the SNP is "highly unlikely" but she's not ruled it out. Deal-breakers include austerity measures.

  78. Lib Dems will confound expectations

    Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg reckons predictions of his party suffering an "apocalypse" will be confounded. Mr Clegg says one of the "surprises" of the general election will be "how many, not how few, Lib Dem MPs are returned, including in Scotland". He was speaking to the BBC ahead of the party's Scottish conference.

  79. Payment practices portal

    It's a payment practices portal plan paradise. Large firms may have to start to disclose the terms by which they pay suppliers, from April 2016, under government payments practices plans. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) wants large firms to "publish their payment practices twice a year to make sure that small companies do not get caught out".

    Under the new rules, large companies will be required to disclose:

    •Payment terms

    •Average time taken to pay

    •Proportion of invoices paid beyond agreed terms

    •Proportion of invoices paid: in 30 days or less; between 31-60 days; and beyond 60 days

    •Any late payment interest owed and paid.

    However, like any contract, important details are buried in the small print of the BIS statement. "These plans are subject to the will of Parliament," it says.

  80. Mike Smithson, editor of Political Betting

    @MSmithsonPB

    tweets: LAB moves to 3 point lead with Populus online Con 31 (-3) Lab 34 (nc) LD 9 (+1) UKIP 17 (+2) GN 5 (nc)

  81. John Rentoul, columnist at the Indpendent

    @JohnRentoul

    tweets: Labour soars to 3-point lead with Populus, conducted on Budget day and yesterday

  82. Nicola Sturgeon agrees eclipse is 'damp squib'

    BBC Radio 4

    Nicola Sturgeon

    SNP leader and Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has told Women's Hour that, like the host Jane Garvey, she didn't really notice the solar eclipse in Glasgow. "I was thinking to myself this morning, the sun is very often obscured in Scotland, and in Glasgow, so I'm not sure if we noticed too much difference."

  83. Kate Jermey, KTP Manager @unibirmingham

    @KatieJatWork

    Nick Clegg

    tweets: Nick Clegg echoes importance of prompt payment to small firms, backed in Young report #FSBConf #ibacksmallbusiness

  84. Jill Rutter, former civil servant, now at the Institute for Government

    @jillongovt

    tweets: nothing on @DefraGovUK website about @Ruralpay write-off - just messages from a week ago on new way to claim. is there a statement?

  85. George Osborne - 'Heartfelt thanks' to business

    George Osborne

    Mr Osborne gives a "big heartfelt thank you" to Federation of Small Business types at their conference for their support for austerity measures.

    "In 2011 and in 2012, when times were tougher... there were many voices out there saying that we should give up, that we should pursue a plan B, that we should back a lot of borrowing and government spending... and that was the way to get Britain out of the economic problems that it found itself in... And the business community... did not waver," Mr Osborne says.

    "Because you stuck with me... we managed to see off those who always want to borrow more and expand the size of the state to a point where it's unaffordable and your taxes go up."

  86. Electoral reform

    Nigel Farage

    Mr Farage is asked a question about electoral reform by a class of politics sixth form students in Christchurch. He says he thinks the first past the post system of voting "is bust".

    Mr Farage adds it used to work perfectly well when the UK had a two party system and the party that one the election typically won more than 50% of the vote, but today he says it is quite likely the two biggest parties will not manage to achieve two thirds of the vote together.

    Mr Farage is in favour of electoral reform. He favours the AV plus system, he says.

    LBC host Nick Ferrari asks the class to cheer when he calls out the name of the four biggest parties as a way of gauging their voting intentions.

    As he mentions the Lib Dems there is silence, Labour gets a big cheer, the Conservatives a lesser cheer while UKIP gets a [some might suggest reluctant] cheer from one or two members of the class.

    Mr Ferrari suggests Mr Farage "has some work to do".

  87. EU referendum

    Could the House of Lords stop an EU referendum bill going through parliament? Mr Farage says he thinks it is "very unlikely the House of Lords would stop this". He says if the House of Lords tried to block legislation "so fundamental as a referendum on our EU membership" they would be "signing their own death warrant and we would be moving to an elected senate very quickly indeed".

    What Mr Farage says he is more concerned about is how the referendum is conducted, who is eligible to vote, and what the question is.

    "What I do not want to see is David Cameron do what Harold Wilson did 40 years ago and hold a referendum which is not full, free and fair," he says.

  88. Public sector finances

    Government borrowing excluding state-controlled banks totalled £6.9bn in February - down by a third from a year earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). As in January, finances were boosted by a strong recovery in income taxes. The government's latest target is to borrow £90.2bn in the current fiscal year, which looks likely.

  89. George Osborne on the Eclipse economy

    George Osborne

    Ah, druids. Chancellor George Osborne has kicked off a speech at the Federation of Small Business Conference in Birmingham with a reference to the solar eclipse and likening it to the UK economy. "In ancient days, ancient British druids and Roman auguries would look at an eclipse, and they would ask the question whether it heralded times of chaos or times of prosperity ahead... The shadow is starting to pass away from the sun, and the sun is starting to shine again."

  90. Sun sting

    Mr Farage is asked again about the revelations in the Sun. Asked if his has spoken to UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson yet, he says he has, but that he spoke to her after midnight. Ms Atkinson was in bed asleep and he didn't get a particularly clear answer.

    He says the party will hold a full disciplinary hearing on Monday to determine the truth of the situation.

    Referring to MPs Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw being caught apparently offering their services to a private company for cash, Mr Farage says two senior politicians, one from the Conservatives and one from Labour, have been disbarred from standing as MPs in the next election.

    The fact that UKIP is potentially joining that club is not "a source of happiness to me", Mr Farage says.

  91. Farage and MP spouse employment

    Mr Farage is asked next whether MPs should employ their wives. He says one in four MPs employ a family member.

    He says there are "all sorts of MPs and MEPs from this country. Some clearly are pretty lazy and don't work very hard but some work incredibly hard and work extraordinary hours".

    He adds if those MPs have got someone at home that they can work with at 11 or 12 o'clock at night, that would be preferable given that it would be rather difficult to ask your secretary to work until that time of night.

  92. NHS spending

    Mr Farage says he would urge the richest 5% to 7% of people in the country to take out private healthcare "to relieve some of the burden" on the NHS. "If you can afford it, take out private healthcare.".

    "If you're in a high-powered job," he adds, "getting a GPs appointment now is almost impossible anyway."

  93. Phone Farage

    Nigel Farage

    UKIP Nigel Farage is taking calls on his LBC phone-in programme. The first caller asks whether Mr Farage can be trusted not to privatise the NHS, given his previous record of trying to push through a UKIP private health insurance policy.

    "We (UKIP) have decided, actually, if you look at what's happened since 1997, the increasing privatisation of the NHS hasn't worked," he says, giving the examples of PFI and outsourcing.

    "We're saying this: we want the NHS free at the point of delivery, but we want it better run."

  94. Paper review

    The Times is leading on a plan to turn A roads into mini-motorways in the UK as part of an £11bn "roads revolution" to be announced next week. Roundabouts and traffic lights are to go, slip roads are to be added, and cyclists and tractors discouraged from using the busiest A roads, it says. Beep beep!

    The Guardian says 298,000 migrants are contributing to the UK economy "but you won't hear the story from politicians" for "fear of blighting their political hopes".

    The Financial Times talks of a Labour accusation that Chancellor George Osborne is engaging in pork barrel politics with his Budget, by appealing to marginal seats.

    The Telegraph leads on Mr Osborne hinting that the threshold for the 40p rate of tax will be shifted to £50,000 should the Tories be in a position to bring in that policy after the election. True blue.

    And the Daily Mail has fresh allegations about a police cover-up of MP Cyril Smith's activities.

  95. Farage statement

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage has spoken to the BBC again this morning following the Sun's revelations about one of his MEP's, who has been suspended.

    He spoke to BBC Kent's Maggie Doyle earlier.

    "Well it looks bad, it looks very bad. It couldn't look worse. I'm astonished by it frankly," he says.

    "What we need to do, very quickly, is to have a disciplinary hearing to establish what the relationship was over this matter between a member of staff and between Janice Atkinson. That clearly we don't know at this stage and we don't fully understand.

    "There will be a disciplinary hearing very early next week as soon as we can possibly convene it, at which, as I say, we will establish the truth of this - what the intention was, what the relationship was… [between the] member of staff and Janice Atkinson."

    "But all I can say is - and I shouldn't really be pre-judging anything - all I can say is there is going to have to be an extraordinary reason to explain why this has happened," he adds.

  96. Defence spending

    RAF Tornado

    The Ministry of Defence's equipment plan is at "real risk" from cost overruns and potential spending cuts, an influential group of MPs has said. The Public Accounts Committee said the department had admitted its 10-year plan may cost at least £5.2bn more than the £163bn forecast. It also raised concerns about the MoD's assumptions that its funding would increase over the coming years.

  97. Farage statement

    Nigel Farage

    Nigel Farage has told the BBC there will be an "immediate investigation as to what the truth of this is" in relation to the allegations of financial wrongdoing by a staff member of one of his most high profile MEPs, Janice Atkinson.

    "All I will say is, we have got the spotlight very much on us as UKIP," he said.

    "We've got to behave absolutely properly and if we see anything we think is wrong, we will come down on it like a tonne of bricks."

    Mr Farage will be doing his regulator phone in on LBC later this morning, we'll bring you more on that as it happens.

  98. Famer's IT system

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    For months the government has been urging farmers in England to use its new online system for claiming subsidies from the EU. More than 74,000 have tried to do so. But they've had such problems with the £154m computer system it has now been abandoned. The Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is now sending out paper forms to farmers for their claims. Back to paper and biros for now.

    Brian Glick, editor of Computer Weekly, explains that while it is embarrassing for the government, it's just one particular part of the system - the mapping tool - that doesn't work as it should. He expects some tinkering with the system before it is relaunched later this year or the beginning of next.

  99. Northern powerhouse?

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    Let's talk road and rail. Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin talks on Today about the government's plans to improve the road and rail network in the north of England.

    He says the government sees the railways as "an absolutely essential part" of the UK and its economy. He says 800 miles of railway lines in the north will be electrified - they currently run off diesel engines - over the next five years.

    Mr McLoughlin also suggests local authorities in the north will take over responsibility for issues railway franchises in the future.

  100. Sex crime suspects

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    Jill Saward, who was raped in 1986, tells Today the suggestion that suspects should be given anonymity is unenforceable due to social media. "Anyone who is named - there is no way that social media will keep it quiet... Names come out as soon as anyone is arrested."

    She adds the recommendation is insulting to victims. "We are at epidemic levels - 80,000 women, at least 10,000 men... those are the figures each year for rape, and the miniscule number that actually make it to court, and are found guilty - we have to redress the balance," she adds.

  101. Higher rate tax pledge

    The Conservatives will take nearly a million people out of the 40p higher rate of tax in the months following the general election, George Osborne has suggested according to the Daily Telegraph.

    The newspaper reports the chancellor as saying his Liberal Democrat colleagues blocked him from raising the higher rate tax threshold in his pre-election Budget on Wednesday.

  102. The Economist

    @TheEconomist

    Union Jack umbrella

    tweets: Boosting the personal allowance is a middle-class tax cut dressed up in working-class clothes.

  103. Sex crime suspects

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, tells Today there are good reasons for providing anonymity to those people accused of sexual offences. "We had some very compelling evidence from Paul Gambaccini when he came before the committee," he says. "Someone who has not been charged with any offence whose reputation should be absolutely untarnished."

  104. Former Australian prime minister Fraser dies

    Malcolm Fraser died following a brief illness, his office said.
    Image caption: Malcolm Fraser died following a brief illness, his office said

    Former Australian prime minister, Malcolm Fraser, has died at the age of 84 after a short illness. Mr Fraser served as prime minister for three terms over a seven year period. He came to power following a constitutional crisis which was caused by the dissolution of the Australian parliament by the governor general Sir John Kerr.

  105. Sex crime suspects

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    There are strong arguments both for and against naming sex crime suspects, BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says. Naming suspects can encourage victims to come forward, but it can cause "immense damage to the reputation of someone who may be innocent" he says.

  106. Farmers IT payment system problems

    Oh dear. A big government IT project looks like its about to be mothballed (at least temporarily). Haven't we been here before? The multi-million pound government IT system to process EU subsidy payments for farmers has been largely abandoned following "performance problems". The system will be re-launched next week with farmers asked to submit basic payment scheme claims on paper forms. Farmers say they have struggled with the £154m website for months.

  107. UKIP MEP suspension

    BBC Radio 4 Today

    UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage (2L) smiles sitting with UKIP MEP candidates Janice Atkinson (L) and Diane James (3R) and Ray Finch (2R)

    BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith gives some context to the suspension of UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson (left) over an expenses claim. Her chief of staff, Christine Hewitt, was apparently filmed asking a restaurant manager for an invoice for over £3,000 for a bill, when the actual bill had been around £900.

    Norman Smith tells Today there's a sense of "here we go again" into another UKIP "scandal", "row" or "rumpus". UKIP "just seem to go from one bad headline to the next" he adds.

  108. Northern Powerhouse

    Hitachi Class 395 Javelin train

    Multimillion pound plans for overhaul the rail network in the north of England - part of a government plan to create a "Northern powerhouse" - will be laid out later. However, the Maritime and Transport union has said the proposals are "pie-in-the-sky nonsense".

  109. Sex crime suspects

    MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee have said sex crime suspects deserve anonymity, with "zero tolerance" of their identities being leaked - unless they've been charged or police need to name them.

  110. Post update

    Matthew West

    Politics Reporter

    Morning everyone. Yes quite a bit to digest from overnight. We'll bring you reaction to the latest news as it happens but if you want to get in touch with us please do at politics@bbc.co.uk or via twitter @bbcpolitics.

  111. Hello

    Tom Espiner

    Politics Reporter

    Good morning. We're guessing that you'll be quite curious about the eclipse this morning, but there's also a lot going on in the politics world too. The government is due to lay out further plans for the road and rail network in the north of England later, MPs have said sex crime suspects deserve anonymity, and a UKIP MEP has been suspended over an expenses claim by one of her staff. And the day is still young.