Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Big beasts stalk the land
Today it was as if a deep tremor shook the earth, awakening a herd of big beasts from hibernation. Lords Forsyth, Steel, Owen and Ashdown all got involved to tell each other's parties they are doing it wrong when it comes to the SNP (apart from Forsyth, that is, who told his own party its strategy was misguided). There was also a knight thrown in for good measure - Sir John Major, that is, who gave a speech in which he predicted that a Labour government supported by the SNP would produce "mayhem". How does the SNP feel about this? One of its own veterans, John Swinney, said Sir John's message "doesn't respect democracy - and is completely wrong".
Labour, Lib Dem and DUP pledges
Apart from all the talk about Sir John Major, what else has been going on today? Well, Ed Miliband gave a speech at Manchester Metropolitan University, saying if Labour were elected they would have a rescue plan for the NHS, and that would mean bringing in a mansion tax on the most expensive homes and a tobacco levy, ASAP. That, he said, would help to pay for thousands of nurses.

Nick Clegg's been out campaigning in Cornwall on the Lib Dems countryside charter. He said that if you own a second home in a rural beauty spot, they would make you pay double council tax. Local councils would be able to charge some people 200% council tax.

And finally, the Democratic Unionist Party have released their manifesto, saying never before have their MPs been so important in Westminster and only the DUP is big enough and strong enough to negotiate for Northern Ireland. Watch Eleanor's 60-second round-up >
Eleanor Garnier
Political correspondent
Major warnings
Sir John addressed an audience in Solihull in stark terms
A series of warning shots were fired today about how pro-Union parties should relate to the SNP. Ed Miliband accused David Cameron of "demeaning his office" by, in his words, "talking them up". But former PM Sir John Major gave a speech which continued the Conservatives' dire predictions - cautioning that the SNP could "blackmail" a future Labour government. The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said his intervention was an "affront to democracy". Read more >
Miliband's SOS on NHS
In other naysaying news, Ed Miliband said David Cameron poses a "mortal danger" to the service, and pledged 1,000 extra nurses. The Conservatives point to the "nursing crisis" inherited from Labour, saying staff shortages contributed to the Stafford hospital scandal.Read more >
Lib Dems' country views
The Lib Dems have launched a "countryside charter", including plans to impose higher council tax rates on owners of second homes in rural beauty spots. Nick Clegg also set a goal of creating 300,000 rural jobs. Roughly half the party's seats are in rural areas.
Read more >
UKIP seeks BBC licence fee snip
Nigel Farage has told a meeting in Rochester the BBC should not be privatised but should be "cut back to the bone". Specifically, he said he wanted to see the licence fee reduced by two thirds. He argued it should be "a public service broadcaster with an international reach", adding: "You could do that with a licence fee that was about a third of what it currently is." Read more >
Watch: Foreign policy debate
The Daily Politics' Andrew Neil and diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall quiz representatives of six of the UK parties on foreign affairs. Watch >
The day in pictures

BBC News picture editor Phil Coomes rounds up today's stand-out images, including this of Nick Clegg with a large fish in Cornwall.
View more >
Politics around the UK
Lib Dems pledge 'decade of opportunity'
Read more >
Wales may follow England on student finance
Read more >
Northern Ireland:
DUP could be 'pivotal' to next parliament
Read more >
Hertfordshire farm workers share views
Read more >
Coming up: BBC Newsbeat debate
The second of Newsbeat's three election debates takes place in Birmingham tonight, focusing on immigration, health and education. You can listen live at 21:00 BST on Radio 1, Radio 1 Xtra, follow online or on the BBC News Channel. Read more >
The Weald is not enough?
In an interview with Magic Radio, Nigel Farage has put himself forward to play the next James Bond. Farage said: "Well, you've got to be faithful to Ian Fleming and the original writer. It has to be male, it has to be a rogue of some description."

He went on to concede: "I'm not handsome enough but I'm certainly rogue. I'd give it a go." Spy on this and other stories on the BBC politics live page >

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