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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Election 2015 live: Ed Miliband understands how the UK feels, says Russell Brand

Ipsos Mori poll gives SNP 34-pt lead in ScotlandCameron does not challenge claim Tories would cut tax creditsEd Balls says Tory tax credit cuts would hurt 4.5m familiesRead Andrew Sparrow’s summary of the morning 12.16am AEST A Labour source has been in touch to point out that Ed Miliband’s line on the press in his interview with Russell Brand is rather different from that taken by Sajid Javid, the Conservative culture secretary, in an interview with the Daily Mail today.Asked if the Tories would do any more to implement the Leveson report, Javid said no.Asked if the Tories would try to force the Press to abide by a Leveson-approved system, Mr Javid said: ‘No, we won’t. But Labour will. It interferes with the freedom of the Press. It goes fundamentally against one of the Leveson principles, which is independent self-regulation. I think we have achieved what we set out to do. Everyone accepted the old system, the Press Complaints Commission, didn’t work. Our job is done as a government. It’s up to the Press.’ 12.15am AEST There’s a quieter, perhaps even slightly different, tone to the Ukip campaign which Douglas Carswell is waging to defend the Clacton seat which he held in a by-election just over six months ago following his defection from the Tories.In the constituency widely regarded as the one which is most likely of all to result in a UKIP victory next week, the former Conservative MP was out this morning delivering leaflets in a traditionally strong Labour area where he seemed at his most passionate and comfortable discussing electoral and local government reform, rather than immigration.I am uncomfortable about making distinctions between Christian and non Christian because that is what some nasty people in that part of the world want to do and if you make that distinction then maybe you make that narrative more real. A sensible country has to be able to say to people who genuinely fear persecution: ‘we will accept you’. There should always be room for genuine asylum, that is in Ukip’s policies and it’s important, but we must not define the world in the way sectarian people would define the world.Watching Douglas Carswell canvassing a Clacton Labour stronghold. Quieter to other Ukip fronts (+ more likely to win) 12.04am AEST And here is the key exchange on Rupert Murdoch.Ed Miliband made two points.Brand: If Rupert Murdoch has this kind of power, this kind of media voice, if you are prime minister of Britain, can’t you just go, ‘Right, I’m prime minister now, we are passing some legislation that means that monopolies are going to be significantly broken up. So Rupert Murdoch, it’s been great, but now you can only own 10% or 15% of total media.’ Is that kind of thing a possibility? Because people want it.Miliband: We said in our manifesto you’ve got to look at these issues of media ownership, and I’ve spoken out against Rupert Murdoch on phone hacking, and what happened to ordinary members of the public who were victims of phone hacking and intrusion and all of those things. The thing I would say to you about this, though, is these people are less powerful than they used to be. They are less powerful than they used to be. Media ownership really matters. It is something I care about. As I say, we have set out in our manifesto that we are going to definitely look at the issue. 11.39pm AEST Here is the key exchange where Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband over the need for credible change.As you can see, it is almost a bit of a love-in.Miliband: I think we are in a world where people are passed the idea of, this bloke comes along and he says vote for Ed Miliband and if I’m in Downing Street, on day one life is totally turned upside down. Firstly, I don’t think people want it. And, secondly, I don’t think people would believe it. I think people want a sense that the country is run in a different way, that it is run for them again. I think the fundamental problem with this country is that people think it is run for somebody else and the somebody else is somebody probably right at the top of society. They have got the access, the influence, the power, and it is not run for them. 11.20pm AEST This is what Russell Brand said at the end of the interview.I think we learnt a lot about Labour, we learnt a lot about Ed Miliband. It’s not a perfect interview but personally I found it a very interesting experience. And i think it says a lot about Ed Miliband that he understands the way the media works now, the way the country feels at the moment … that he was prepared to come and talk to us here at the Trews. 11.18pm AEST Michael Gove, the Conservative chief whip and former education secretary, said the claims from Ed Miliband that the Conservatives’ spending plans necessitate a cut in tax credits are based on “a mistake” in their figures and will not happen . First of all, the figures on which they’re extrapolating this alleged cut don’t take account of the full £30bn of savings we’re going to make, including cracking down on tax evasion and tax avoidance. The second mistake is that it doesn’t take account of the introduction of universal credit overall.The past is the best guide to the future. Our track record is the best way in which we can be judge and the fact that we’ve been able to save £21bn in the welfare budget and at the same time reduce inequality and reduce child poverty in this country is an indication of our values and our competence. 11.10pm AEST Brand is now offering his conclusions. He says it says a lot for Miliband that he was willing to come around and talk to Brand.He does not quite say “Vote Labour”, but Brand did come reasonably close to an endorsement. 11.08pm AEST Miliband says he agrees with Brand. He is not offering “giddy euphoria”.The Tories say this is as good as it gets, he says. 11.08pm AEST Miliband says he is not saying he will turn life upside down. That is not what people want, and people would not believe him if he promised it anyway.But people want to know that the country is not just run for those at the top.I completely agree with you, Ed. We don’t want some giddy, Yes we can euphoria ... People don’t want euphoria this time. People want security and stability and an end to this fear. 11.04pm AEST Q: What about Murdoch. Will you change media ownership?Miliband says he has stood up to Murdoch. In its manifesto, Labour says it will look at this. Murdoch is “much less powerful than he used to be”. The British people have more sense than these papers think. 11.02pm AEST Q: At a geopolitical level politicians cannot wield influence.That is not true, says Miliband. 11.00pm AEST Q: No one is proposing an alternative.There is an alternative, says Miliband. 10.59pm AEST Q: We have lost £840bn to tax evasion since the bank bailout.Miliband says it was right to bail out the banks. Remember the queues outside banks. It was right to protect people’s savings. 10.58pm AEST Q: How will that happen?We reform the banks. We need banks, but they have to change. 10.57pm AEST Q: We see bankers committing fraud, and no one goes to prison. Miliband asks Brand if he accepts his fundamental point. 10.54pm AEST I’m listening to it now. I will write it up as I listen, and then post the best quotes. 10.50pm AEST Here is the Russell Brand interview with Ed Miliband.Today's Trews: Milibrand. #Milibrand 10.49pm AEST In an interview with the Evening Standard, David Cameron suggested that he could see Boris Johnson as prime minister. Talking about Johnson’s prospects, he said:I haven’t got a specific job in mind but Boris has got a huge amount of talent and a great track record of running London. I think he can make a contribution at the highest level. 10.45pm AEST On the Jeremy Vine show David Cameron could not say how much the national debt was. Asked how much higher it is is now than it was in 2010, he replied:Of course it’s higher. I haven’t got the figure off the top of my head. But every year you borrow more is a year in which you add to the national debt. 10.43pm AEST Almost 500 voters in Hull have been sent postal ballots missing two candidates, including the Labour incumbent, the Press Association reports.Karl Turner, running to defend Kingston upon Hull East, said he had been told by the returning officer the issue involved the second tranche of postal ballots sent to 476 voters. Green candidate Sarah Walpole is also missing from the ballot papers, all of which will be cancelled and reissued to voters in time for polling day. 10.38pm AEST Michael Gove, the Conservative chief whip, has just told the World at One that the Tories would not cut tax credits. That is not an assurance that David Cameron felt minded to give earlier today.Gove said the Tories would freeze tax credits, but not cut them.We are going to freeze them for two years. We are not going to cut them. 10.25pm AEST When William Hague was Conservative leader after 1997, he announced a plan to legislate to cut taxes as a share of national income regardless of the state of the economy. He was forced to drop the idea when Michael Portillo became shadow chancellor.On the Daily Politics earlier, Hague was asked why the party was now resurrecting a similar idea. He was “ahead of [his] time” in 2000, he replied. 10.17pm AEST A Labour adviser has sent me a note clarifying some of the figures in Labour’s “Tories’ Secret Plan” document. (See 12.27pm.)As I reported earlier, Labour is saying the tax credit cuts (£3.8bn) and child benefit cuts (£4.8bn) could be worth a total of £8.6bn.)However, we are saying that it is more likely that they will take more from child benefit this time by rolling it into universal credit – which would save £4.8bn rather than £1.9bn. The Tories have repeatedly refused to rule out doing this in the last few weeks. 10.08pm AEST Martin McGuinness’s idea for a Northern Ireland only referendum on gay marriage equality is winning some surprising support today. The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said that “I can support a referendum in principle.”We must remember that a referendum in the UK has no binding legal effect. Even if the public were to vote in favour of marriage equality, the Assembly would have to pass enabling legislation and as we have seen this week, the Assembly is incapable of making this necessary legal change. 10.03pm AEST The Conservatives have promised to introduce a law banning increases in income tax, VAT or national insurance over the next parliament. Columnists Hugh Muir and Owen Jones discuss whether it’s a good idea to imply that without a law tying their hands, the Tories wouldn’t keep to their promise. Tax pledges normally play well with the public – but will this one make any difference to the polls? 9.59pm AEST Cameron says the election is very close. And that’s it. The Jeremy Vine interview is over. 9.58pm AEST Cameron says he was always planning to announce new policies during the campaign.Q: And what about the “pumped up” rhetoric? Were you told to make it look as if you wanted the job? 9.55pm AEST Q: You have been making lots of unfunded commitments during the campaign. On inheritance tax, for example.Cameron says that promise is funded. It would be funded by changes to pension tax relief for the wealthy. 9.50pm AEST Speaking after he took part in an energetic if uncoordinated exercise dance with pensioners in Yoker, in the Labour-held seat of Glasgow North West, Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader, said: If this poll is repeated on polling day, David Cameron will be uncorking the champagne because he might cling onto power, not because Scotland went out and voted Tory but because Scotland voted against the Labour party and made sure David Cameron was leader of the largest party.We’re behind in the polls, there’s no point in denying that here in Scotland but we’ve got a huge amount of energy, a great amount of determination and look, a week is a long time in politics and we will keep working away.[The] last thing Scotland needs is for the SNP to win this number of seats and for Scotland to be trapped again in a conversation about a referendum.I don’t want to disappoint you but that’s not happening. We’re out campaigning every day and I will be campaigning in my seat later today, once I have recovered from the exhaustion of dancing here. We will win our seat here [and] I won’t lose my seat. 9.46pm AEST Jeremy Vine plays a clip from David Gauke, the Conservative Treasury minister, saying details of the planned £12bn welfare cuts would not be explained before the election. 9.35pm AEST Cameron says Labour are planning to run a deficit in perpetuity. That is absurd, he says. People running businesses, and families, know that you can run an overdraft for some of the time, but not all of the time.Q: Ed Balls said this morning they would cut the deficit by 2020. 9.29pm AEST Jeremy Vine is now interviewing David Cameron on BBC Radio 2. 9.27pm AEST We have have very few proper press conferences from the main parties during this election but, to their credit, Labour held one today and they used it to deliver a well-aimed hit at the Tories. Since David Cameron and George Osborne have refused to say where they will cut the welfare budget, Labour decided to try an approach long-favoured by unscrupulous lobby correspondents and make up the figures for themselves.No government led by me as prime minister will cut the tax credits that working people rely on. Instead, we will raise them at least in line with inflation in every budget. I know what needs to be done without reaching into the wallets of hard-working people and taking their money. So here’s the choice. You get me, you get that guarantee about taxes. You get Ed Miliband and you’ve got someone who attacked every single spending reduction and saving that we had to make. Every single change to welfare he has opposed. You can only draw one conclusion from that. He would make a different cut. He would put up taxes, reach into your pay packet and cut your pay. That’s the choice. I say working people in this country have paid enough tax.You’ve got millions more people who may well note vote who are not watching, frankly, who are not watching, not listening and are planning not to vote and therefore I will do anything and engage with anyone to try and persuade people to vote ...Russell Brand is somebody who has in the past expressed that view that voting doesn’t change anything, I believe voting is the thing that changes thing. Look at the history.On the Margaret Hodge question, these were shares which were transferred by her family out of Germany before the second world war. That is the history of this. And Margaret has brought those shares onshore and paid the appropriate tax. I think she’s done the right thing. 9.23pm AEST The Conservatives’ tax lock law “could cause monumental damage if it has to be defied in the event of a deterioration of the economy”, according to an analyst quoted by Bloomberg Business.Steve Barrow, head of G-10 strategy at Standard Bank, said in a research note that such a law showed the Conservatives were “the more desperate party” as the general election draws closer.George Osborne, now chancellor of the exchequer, told Parliament at the time: “No other Chancellor in the long history of the office has felt the need to pass a law in order to convince people that he has the political will to implement his own budget.”He also pointed out that the law represented “a constitutional first” by imposing no legal sanction if the goals were missed. The Conservatives confirmed Wednesday that their own proposed law would likewise lack any punishment for those breaking it. 8.37pm AEST The latest STV News poll suggests that the SNP is set to take every one of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. Based on the latest Ipsos-Mori findings, which put the SNP at 54%, up two points since January, and Labour down 4 points to 20%, the Electoral Calculus website indicates that Nicola Sturgeon’s party will win every seat, while other calculators give Labour and the Liberal Democrats one seat each.At a campaign event in Glasgow, Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy told my colleague Severin Carrell that David Cameron would be “uncorking the champagne” if the poll was repeating on 7 May..@JimForScotland says @David_Cameron "will be uncorking the champagne" if @STVNews 54% SNP poll is repeated at #GE2015: he'll beat @UKLabour 8.28pm AEST Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, has responded to the latest Scottish poll.Forget polls - only votes win elections. The more seats @theSNP win, the stronger Scotland will be. Let's keep working hard. #GE15 #voteSNP 8.21pm AEST A new Ipsos Mori poll gives the SNP a 34-point lead in Scotland. And it shows Labour just 3 points ahead of the Tories. Our latest #GE2015 poll for @STVNews – SNP 54% (+2), Lab 20 (-4), Cons 17% (+5), LD 5% (+1), Green 2% (-2). Tables on our website shortly.If this 54 SNP/20 Lab MORI poll happens, #SNP wld win 58/59 seats in Scotland on uniform swing 8.21pm AEST One trend where polls have been consistent for months – across phone polls, internet surveys and constituency polling – is Scotland.Nicola Sturgeon’s party remains on course to winning nearly all of Scotland’s 59 seats. In fact, if anything, support for the SNP is increasing. The latest Ipsos Mori poll has the party on 54%.More evidence total victory for SNP in Scotland. Our latest poll for @STV News – SNP 54% (+2), Lab 20 (-4), Cons 17% (+5), LD 5% (+1)! 8.17pm AEST Q: Was it really necessary to bring in Paul Greengrass, ie Hollywood, to do a Labour party political broadcast?Miliband says Greengrass is a friend. He has known him for some years. Greengrass offered to help. But Miliband does not think Matt Damon has anything to worry about. 8.12pm AEST Q: Will you be bullied by Nicola Sturgeon if you are prime minister?There is not going to be a Labour/SNP government, says Miliband. 8.11pm AEST Q: Why won’t you promise an extra £8bn for the NHS?Miliband says he will only make promises he can keep. 8.10pm AEST On ITV’s This Morning Ed Miliband defends his decision to speak to Russell Brand. A lot of politicians do not like moving outside their “comfort zone”. They will only engage with people interested in politics. But he says he thinks it is important to engage with people who are not interested too. 8.03pm AEST Ed Miliband is about to be interviewed on ITV’s This Morning.I will be keeping an eye on it, and posting the highlights, although these interviews haven’t always been essential viewing. 7.48pm AEST The Liberal Democrats have today set out their plans to extend the free school meals programme - which they introduced in September 2014 to give all four-to-seven-year-olds a free meal at lunch times - to all primary school children, so four-to-11-year-olds. The party says the plans will benefit 1.9m children and save parents around £400 per child per year. 7.44pm AEST Nicola Sturgeon has delivered another stirring speech at a women’s business breakfast in Glasgow, urging voters across the country to unite in supporting the SNP in making Scotland’s voice heard in Westminster, and changing the fundamental nature of that parliament itself. Saying that she was sending a message to those who voted no as well as yes in the referendum, and those who had never voted for the SNP previously as well as long-time supporters, Sturgeon said:On May 7th we can seize this historic moment to shift the balance of power from the corridors of Westminster to the streets of Scotland. By voting SNP, we can make our nation’s voice heard like never before. Together we can unite to make Scotland better. 7.41pm AEST 7.33pm AEST The Cameron speech and Q&A is now over. I will post a summary of the key points from the Labour and Tory events soon. 7.32pm AEST Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor and a former Treasury official, has written a blog saying it is wrong for the Tories to say there would be no tax rises under them in the next parliament. A range of tax increases, on things like fuel and tobacco, are already planned, he writes.He also says the Tory plan, announced today, not to extend the scope of VAT is a mistake.If you want a good indicator of the fact that this ‘announcement’ has been cobbled together at the last minute by a Tory leadership in the grip of a giant wobble, look no further than the throwaway promise that there will be ‘no extension in the scope of VAT’. That’s been thrown in to avoid accusations that they’re planning a raid on the VAT zero rates having forgotten to pledge their protection in the Tory manifesto. But it’s clearly been written by someone who knows nothing about VAT. The scope of VAT is constantly changing as new products and services come onto the market and a decision needs to be taken on their VAT treatment or as unscrupulous tax accountants come up with ingenious ways to avoid the tax and legislation is required to counteract them. Saying there will be ‘no extension’ in the scope of VAT is both financially illiterate and fiscally irresponsible, but I guess on that charge, the Tories currently think: in for a penny …. 7.24pm AEST Q: If you are prime minister, will you resign if you fail to deliver this tax lock within 100 days?Cameron says this is what the Conservatives will deliver. He knows that taxes can be cut. 7.23pm AEST Cameron is now taking questions from audience members, not journalists. The first isn’t really a question, but a rant about Mike O’Brien, the Labour candidate for North Warwickshire and Bedworth. 7.21pm AEST Q: Five years ago you promised not to put up VAT. But you did. Is this pledge designed to ensure you don’t break your promise again?Cameron says he can make this pledge because he has seen the books. He has been prime minister for five years. 7.20pm AEST Cameron is now taking questions.Q: Why should people trust you on tax, if you say you need to pass a law on this? 7.18pm AEST Back in Birmingham, Cameron is in full pumped up mode. There is one thing he want to “get of [his] chest”, he says. It is the fact that while he has been clearing up the economic mess left by Labour, they have been on the sidelines criticising. It is like trying to put out a fire and having the arsonist who started it next to you criticising you. 7.16pm AEST Michael Crick from Channel 4 News posted this on Twitter after the Labour press conference.Ed Miliband asked by invited member of Labour audience about Margaret Hodge's offshore tax arrangements. Passes Q, and others, to Ed Balls 7.13pm AEST BBC News and Sky have given up their coverage of the Cameron speech, but there is a live feed on the BBC website. I will be monitoring it, and posting the highlights. 7.10pm AEST Cameron says he is today in a position to promise that the Tories would legislate to block increases in income tax, national insurance and VAT. He can say this because he has seen the books, he says. 7.08pm AEST David Cameron is speaking in Birmingham now.From what I’ve heard, it sounds like a fairly standard stump speech. But he includes a new attack on the SNP, quoting from an SNP candidate who said if he were elected to Westminster, he would be able to take on the enemy.A hung parliament could mean punishing, all-night sittings and constant media scrutiny, but I would relish the chance to take Scotland’s fight to the enemy camp. 7.02pm AEST Q: What did you learn from meeting Russell Brand?Miliband says 7m people are not registered to vote. That is shocking. And there are more people who will not vote. 6.58pm AEST Q: Does your promise not to raise national insurance include a promise not to raise the ceiling?Yes, says Balls. He says Labour is not going to change national insurance. All its plans are paid for. 6.55pm AEST Q: Can you guarantee to approving the maingate decision on Trident early in 2016, which would be before the Holyrood election?Miliband says Labour will do whatever it takes to keep Britain safe. The warning from former defence chiefs today needs to be taken seriously. 6.53pm AEST Q: Why should people trust you when you won’t say what taxes you would raise?Milband says Labour has said what taxes it would raise. 6.51pm AEST Q: Don’t the Tory plans today for a tax lock blow a hole in your analysis?No, says Balls. People will not believe the Tories. 6.49pm AEST Miliband is now taking questions from journalists.Q: If you are criticising the Tories for not saying where they will cut, shouldn’t you say more about the cuts you would make? 6.46pm AEST The Labour document also claims that the Tories have made unfunded spending commitments worth almost £7bn during the election campaign. Here is the key passage. 6.44pm AEST Q: Will Labour stop free schools that are being planned?Miliband says Labour will not close existing free schools. 6.40pm AEST Miliband says the bedroom tax is “a horrendous policy that does not even work”. 6.40pm AEST Q: Do you support the right to buy?Miliband says he supports the principle of right to buy because he thinks home ownership is a good thing. 6.38pm AEST Here is more from the Labour documents.This is what it says about the Tory plans for welfare. It is written as a spoof Tory memo (so “we” refers to the Tories).Our plans mean we will have to cut Tax Credits again. If, as in this parliament, we make just under a third of our welfare savings from Tax Credits, this will mean cutting £3.4 billion from Tax Credits over and above the cuts we have already set out. This would mean:We will also have to cut Child Benefit. As you know, we plan to do this by incorporating it into Universal Credit. People have tried to get this out of us, but we have successfully avoided confirming this is our plan. This would save around £4.8 billion, meaning: 6.34pm AEST Q: How will the mansion tax work? Will basic rate tax payers have to pay?Ed Balls says basic rate taxpayers will be able to defer paying the mansion tax until their home is sold. They will not have to move out. 6.31pm AEST The Labour document is presented as a spoof internal Tory memo.Our public position is that we are planning a consolidation of £30 billion in the next Parliament, with £13 billion from departmental savings.As you know, this was never the complete picture. After coming under pressure and rushing out our unfunded commitments in the campaign, the state of play is now even more difficult. 6.28pm AEST The panel are now taking questions.Ed Miliband says they will start with questions from the invited audience, before taking questions from journalists. 6.27pm AEST At the Labour press conference Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, is speaking now.She says the Tories cut child benefit and tax credits after the 2010 election. 6.24pm AEST Back to the Labour press conference, where Ball is saying that £5.8bn would be cut from tax credits under the Tory plans. 6.24pm AEST Jim Murphy, the Scottish Labour leader, has insisted he plans to remain Labour MP for East Renfrewshire for a full five years if he defies the polls and holds his seat next week. A Lord Ashcroft poll suggested last week that the SNP had taken a 9 point lead over Murphy, on a 26.5% swing, in a seat where previously the Tories were his fiercest competitors. 6.21pm AEST Balls says David Cameron said before the 2010 that it was “a lie” to say that the Tories would cut tax credits.But they did, he says. 6.21pm AEST And here is the Labour poster about the plans.Extreme Tory plans to slash benefit spending by £12 billion will mean a raid of £3.8 billion on tax credits. 6.19pm AEST Here is the Labour briefing on what Labour is calling “the Tories’ secret plan” (pdf). 6.19pm AEST Balls says the IFS said recently the Tories were at risk of giving a misleading impression of what the cuts would look like. They were right. 6.17pm AEST Balls is quoting Robert Chote, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility, and Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, about the Tories plannning remarkably deep cuts.And he repeats the line he used in his Today interview. People understand the phrase “once bitten, twice shy”, he says.The reality of those cuts is devastating. 6.15pm AEST Miliband hands over to Ed Balls, who, he says, is giving a presentation on the Tories’ secret plans.The Tories would cut spending by £58bn, Balls says. 6.11pm AEST Miliband says he has a “tough but balanced” plan to cut the deficit every years.But he will protect family budgets too, he says. 6.10pm AEST Miliband is now on the Tory threat to family finances.He says Labour is releasing figures showing that 7.5m families would lose out under planned Tory cuts. They would lose £760 each on average. 6.07pm AEST Ed Milband has just started his speech at the Labour event this morning.There is a live feed on the BBC website. 6.04pm AEST It is 20 years to the day since Tony Blair won the vote on changing Clause 4 of Labour’s constitution. My colleague Jason Rodrigues has written about it on our archive blog. 5.52pm AEST Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, has given several interviews this morning, including the Today one. If you believe in the theory that how a politician sounds is a good guide to who is winning an election - and there are worse ways of reading a campaign - then Labour are doing well, because Balls certainly sounded remarkably chipper. One obvious point to make about the Conservative tax lock plan is that is not the move one would expect from a party confident, or even half-confident, of winning an election. Politicians who expect to run the Treasury for the next five years are loath to limit their options (which partly explains the George Osborne quote from 2009 - see 8.08am.)This is the most last-minute desperate gimmick I have seen in an election in a very long time. These promises were made by David Cameron in his manifesto. He has decided three weeks on, people aren’t believing them, he is going to try again. But the reason is people remember before the last election he promised not to raise VAT and he raised it and he said it was a ‘lie’ that he would cut tax credits and then he cut tax credits for millions of families in our country.I don’t think he was sucking up to him. I think he was challenging him hard ...I think in an election campaign we have to go out and talk to everybody and we want young people who might be thinking ‘am I going to vote?’ think ‘well, actually there is a big choice.’ If Russell Brand could be persuaded not to go around telling everybody not to vote instead to say ‘there is a choice here’ then that will be a good thing. 5.50pm AEST What do the real voters think? We have 60 in five key seats giving their view throughout the campaign as part of our polling project with BritainThinks. They each have an app and are telling us what they think of stories and key issues as they crop up. 5.24pm AEST Q: Isn’t it a bit demeaning for Ed Miliband to be interviewed by “that great political philosopher” Russell Brand?Balls says politicians should give interviews to may people. 5.21pm AEST Balls says the recovery is not working for ordinary people. There are 1.8m zero hours contracts.Q: And 60% of people want to be one one. 5.20pm AEST Balls says he wants to get a surplus by 2019-20.Q: Where will the money come from? 5.18pm AEST Q: When will you get rid of the deficit?Balls says he will get rid of the current deficit by 2019-20. But he would like to do that earlier. 5.16pm AEST Balls says the Tories will cut welfare by £12bn.Labour will increase tax credits, at least in line with inflation. The Tories will cut them, affecting 4.5m people. 5.13pm AEST John Humphrys is interviewing Ed Balls.Q: Did you see this tax lock law coming?There is a good phrase in the English language: ‘once bitten, twice shy’. 5.08pm AEST Good morning. I’m taking over from Claire.Ed Balls will be on the Today programme shortly.No other chancellor in the long history of the office has felt the need to pass a law in order to convince people that he has the political will to implement his own Budget. As one commentator observed this week, there are only two conclusions. Either the chancellor has lost confidence in himself to stick to his resolution, and is, so to speak, asking the police to help him, or he fears that everyone else has lost confidence in his ability to keep his word, but hopes that they might believe in the statute book if not in him. Neither is much of a recommendation for the chancellor of the day. 5.04pm AEST I’m just about to hand over to Andrew Sparrow but can’t resist sharing this gleeful moment for the Guardian’s Scotland reporter Libby Brooks on Twitter yesterday:@libby_brooks mmm...what can I say??@libby_brooks sorry! 4.59pm AEST My colleague Amelia Gentleman has written an excellent piece on the immigration debate and the election campaign in Wolverhampton.In the former seat of Enoch Powell, she finds, immigration is not the issue on most voters’ minds:Even in the local Ukip campaign headquarters, the single pledge framed and hung on the wall is not about immigration. Instead it promises: “We will work to provide more free parking for the high street.” 4.47pm AEST The Mirror reports this morning that work and pensions secretary – and tub-thumper for the £12bn welfare cuts – Iain Duncan Smith failed to turn up to his own constituency hustings. It reports:Voters from Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency last night called for him to be sanctioned – with his MP’s salary suspended – for failing to show up at his local hustings.Candidates from six other parties – Labour, Green, Lib Dem, Class War, TUSC and Ukip – managed to make the event at Woodford Memorial Hall. But the sitting MP failed to show up in his constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green in north London. 4.33pm AEST My colleague Larry Elliott has this story on Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize-winning US economist, who has attacked Conservative austerity measures – and Labour’s limp response. Krugman says:Cameron is campaigning largely on a spurious claim to have ‘rescued’ the British economy – and promising, if he stays in power, to continue making substantial cuts in the years ahead.Labour, sad to say, are echoing that position. So both major parties are in effect promising a new round of austerity that might well hold back a recovery that has, so far, come nowhere near to making up the ground lost during the recession and the initial phase of austerity.” 4.25pm AEST William Hague has been on the Today programme. He’s not standing in this election, of course, but is nonetheless very pleased about Cameron’s proposed tax lock, he tells Radio 4’s Justin Webb.And a lock is a world away from a pledge, it turns out. It is “categoric legislation … a clear guarantee”:The difference is to put it into the law of the land … [It] not only underlines the commitment but makes it more difficult to change that commitment.This [tax] is at the heart of what parliamentary votes take place about.The difference now, of course, is that five years ago we were dealing with a huge deficit – almost Greek – which has now been halved.Hague: One or the reasons we’ve been bringing down the deficit … is to make the British economy more resilient in the event of unexpected crises.That resilience means that if there are further unforeseen crises … the economy is in a far stronger position.Hague: We have aid a great deal about what we will do on benefits [he mentions the two-year freeze on working-age benefits].What we’ve set out is more detail than any other party and we’ve got the track record to go with it.Conservative MPs would always vote to secure the national interest.We don’t know what a Labour government would put to the Commons. 4.02pm AEST The final day of the penultimate week of the election campaign and here we are again: liveblogging all the developments from 7am till even the politicians turn in for the night.I’m Claire Phipps, starting the blog this morning, before handing over to Andrew Sparrow to take you through the day. We’re on Twitter, @Claire_Phipps and @AndrewSparrow, so please come and share your thoughts there or in the comments below.This is the clearest choice on the economy for a generation. And beyond the plain facts, it also comes down to gut instinct.When you’re standing in the polling booth, ask yourself: on the things that matter in your life, who do you really trust? It says something about the scepticism of electorate if politicians have to pledge new law guaranteeing something they promised to do anywayNo government led by me will cut the tax credits that working people rely on while giving tax breaks to the richest.Instead, a Labour government will raise them at least in line with inflation in every budget.It doesn't matter which media lunatic a party leader meets with after dark - as long as they encourage others to vote is seeking to shift up a gear in his election campaign with the broadcast of a surprise conversation with comedian Russell Brand about the value of voting and a warning about the threat to living standards posed by Conservative spending cuts. More than two years after first announcing a desire to cut £12bn from the social security budget in 2017–18, the Conservatives have provided details of just a 10th of this.It is hard to see how such savings could be achieved without sharp reductions in the generosity of, or eligibility to, one or more of child benefit, disability benefits, housing benefit and tax credits.Those sneering at Miliband for being interviewed by a much-followed figure should ask themselves: what have I done to engage disillusioned young people who feel politics has little to offer?If the answer is very little, or nothing, then perhaps a bit of humility is in order. It is a matter of deep concern that so many people have so little faith in democracy. He is exasperated with the perception that he’s lazy or suffers from a sense of entitlement. He feels he has worked flat-out this year and, since the campaign began, has been visiting five or six constituencies a day, flying across the Pennines and flogging down the M5 in his battlebus.But he has been trying to pace himself because he hates getting overtired –forgetting his football team was a clanger caused by excessively long days. Labour could, during the closing stages of the campaign, plausibly argue that having a Scottish MP as foreign secretary offers a potentially more influential voice for the country at Westminster than a bulked-up bloc of backbench SNP MPs ever would.Social v Press preview of @rustyrockets Miliband has 90k views. Sun frontpage mocking 25 RTs Continue reading...