Wednesday, 22 April 2015


No giggling at the back, please
The parties tried their best to get back to Serious Messages today. The Lib Dems campaigned on public sector pay, the Conservatives on childcare places, and Labour on diagnosing cancer. Refreshing, perhaps, after the constant hand-wringing over the SNP by rival parties in recent days. But it became difficult to hear over the collective shock and amusement of Westminster journalists, as they tried to get to grips with learning that Ed Miliband has a teenage fanbase, and it's known as the "milifandom".
Back to basics
If feels like we've gone back to basics a bit today. A bit of bread-and-butter politics after the parties' clashes in the last few days over the SNP and who would do a deal with whom if there was a hung parliament and the result remained really close.

Today the parties have changed tack and they're talking about policy. So the Conservatives are setting out their plans to double free childcare from 15 hours a week to 30 hours a week and that would apply if both parents are working.

Labour continues to campaign on the NHS. Today they have given us a bit more detail on how they would spend £150m on new diagnostic equipment in GP practices. So if you're waiting for cancer tests you could have them done at your GP.

And the Lib Dems? Well they're making waves on their promise to public sector workers. They say that under the Lib Dems, public sector pay should stay in line with prices for the next two years and outstrip inflation for the following three years. Watch Eleanor's 60-second round-up >
Eleanor Garnier
Political correspondent
This just in: Salmond laughs off Budget comments
Alex Salmond has said his comment that he would be "writing" Labour's Budget if it won power in May was meant as a "light-hearted" remark. The ex-SNP leader was filmed making the joke at an SNP fundraising event - and the video was tweeted by David Cameron, who said voters would be shocked. Read more >
Nick Clegg's public appeal
Nick Clegg on a visit to Bristol following the announcement made this morning
Nick Clegg has been talking up the public sector today, lauding the "sacrifices" many of its employees have made in taking a real-term pay freeze over the past five years. He announced Lib Dems would push for public-sector wages to rise at least in line with CPI inflation. The Conservatives have refused to rule out future real-terms pay cuts for NHS staff, and Labour, who backed pay restraint in the previous Parliament, says decisions in the next must "prioritise those on lower incomes". Read more >
Three the magic number for Conservatives
David Cameron has pledged thousands of extra free childcare places, saying he wanted to avoid the situation under Labour in which "work didn't pay because the cost of childcare was so high". The places would be for three- and four-year-olds, whereas Labour's offer of 25 hours' free childcare a week and the Lib Dems' offer of 20 hours are both intended to include younger children. Read more >
Labour commits to cash for cancer tests
Ed Miliband has said he would invest £150m a year in equipment to diagnose cancer in England. It is intended to "help reduce the anxiety" felt by patients waiting for test results, and to bring about a one-week wait for cancer tests by 2020. But the Conservatives say Labour has refused to commit to the £8bn a year figure which NHS England says it needs.
Read more >
Reality Check: Public pay
BBC head of statistics Anthony Reuben looks at the state of public sector pay since the last election. Read more >
The day in pictures
BBC News picture editor Phil Coomes flicks through the images of the day, including this Sturgeon selfie. Read more >
Watch: Daily Politics economy debate
Andrew Neil and the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston are joined by leading politicians to debate the state of the economy.
Watch >
Politics around the UK
SNP defends plan for financial control
Read more >
Bevan 'would be turning in his grave' - Hunt
Read more >
Northern Ireland:
TUV calls for end to Stormont coalition system
Read more >
Effects of growth in Birmingham Ladywood
Read more >
Coming up: Welsh leaders' debate
You can watch a debate between representatives of the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, UKIP and the Greens in Wales live on ITV from 20:00 BST or follow on the BBC live page.
Meet the Mili-fans
This newsletter tries to round off the day with some light-hearted election news. Today it's difficult to know where to start.

One student has turned down interview requests from the national media in order to focus on her AS Levels, after being credited with sparking a (contained) explosion of a teenage fanbase for Ed Miliband. Mr Miliband himself has been responding to her tweets. The Telegraph has reported on the advent of a rival group styled the "cameronettes" - and others have duly queued up to question the authenticity of said fans.

What on earth is going on? We don't know, but we're sure Ed's press team doesn't mind. We'll let BBC Trending explain >

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