General Election

Sky News reports on the latest polls between the two main parties.

Labour has extended its lead over the Tories in a new poll, in contrast with another poll published earlier.

With less than three weeks to go before the election, the YouGov/Sunday Times survey had Labour on 36%, while the Conservatives were three points behind on 33%.

UKIP was on 13%, the Liberal Democrats on 8% and the Greens on 5%.

But an earlier Opinium poll for the Observer found Labour slipped slightly further behind the Tories.

It had support for the Conservatives steady at 36%, while Labour dropped by two points to 32% since last week’s survey.

UKIP was boosted by two points to 13% as the Lib Dems edged one point higher to 8% in the poll.

The Mail claims that two top Labour MPs are likely to lose their seats to the SNP.

The rampant Scottish National Party has extended its huge lead over Labour, polling showed last night.

Detailed constituency surveys suggest Labour faces an unprecedented wipeout.

Jim Murphy, its Scottish leader, and Douglas Alexander, its chief election strategist, are among those on course to lose their seats.

The nationalists are also on course to wipe out the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, with even Charles Kennedy, their popular former leader, now 15 points behind in his Highlands constituency.

The survey of eight constituencies, by Lord Ashcroft, revealed swings to the SNP on a scale which would be unprecedented in modern European politics.

The survey suggests Labour could lose all 41 seats it won in 2010. Tactical anti-SNP voting by supporters of other parties could save some. There are 59 seats in Scotland.

In a Telegraph exclusive, senior Tory Michael Gove rules out a deal with UKIP.

The Conservatives will not “get into bed” with Nigel Farage by making a deal with the UK Independence Party after the general election, Michael Gove has said.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Gove became the first senior Tory to rule out any kind of deal with Mr Farage’s party in the event of another hung Parliament.

He said that Ukip has now “peaked” and suggested that the party could even be left with no MPs after the election.

His comments will intensify pressure on Ed Miliband to rule out an electoral pact with Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the SNP.

The Labour leader has said he will not form a coalition with Ms Sturgeon but on Friday refused four times to rule out a deal with the SNP after the general election.

Senior Tories including George Osborne, the Chancellor, have in recent weeks failed to categorically rule out a deal with Nigel Farage’s party after the May 7 vote and Mr Farage has said that he would consider an alliance if the Tories offered an immediate EU referendum.

Also in the Telegraph, the Labour leader has refused to rule out a deal with the SNP

Ed Miliband has refused to rule out going into a power-sharing agreement with the SNP and said he will “see what happens” in the General Election.

Nicola Sturgeon used a live BBC debate on Thursday to set out the terms of a deal to work with Ed Miliband and “lock David Cameron out of Downing Street”.

During a visit to Lincoln the Labour leader was asked four times whether he was prepared to rule out a deal with the SNP but failed to do so.

While he said “no thanks” to a Coalition with the SNP, he did not address questions on whether he was prepared to go into Downing Street with Nicola Sturgeon’s support on a “vote-by-vote basis”.

David Cameron warned that a Labour government propped up by the SNP would lead to “more taxes” and “more unlimited borrowing”.

He said: “Anyone who watched debate last night will have seen fundamental differences between me and Nicola Sturgeon. I couldn’t have been about this, we’re not going to have a Coalition. How other parties end up voting on a Labour Queen’s Speech is a matter for them. I want to say this about the debate last night.

“What I owe is to put forward a manifesto and a Labour Queen’s Speech at the election. Lots of people are jumping way ahead. I believe we can win a majority Labour government. It’s the Labour Party that is showing we will take on all comers, we will put forward an agenda for the future, and you’ve got David Cameron hiding away. Let’s see what happens. We are the campaign with momentum.”

The Times reports the Prime Minister’s call for tactical voting

DAVID CAMERON today issues a plea for voters to use tactical voting to prevent Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon from taking power — as Labour opened up a three-point lead in the polls.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the prime minister urges Liberal Democrat and Ukip supporters not to “waste” their votes and instead back the Tories to prevent a Labour-SNP government bringing the economic recovery to “a juddering halt”.

Branding Sturgeon a “hostage-taker” who would demand “more borrowing, more taxes and more welfare”, Cameron says: “Vote for Ukip or the Liberal Democrats and you take Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon a step closer to Downing Street — and our government, economy and country a step closer to chaos.”

Cameron does not use the phrase ‘tactical voting’, but a senior Conservative says he wants LibDem and UKIP voters to ‘lend their votes’ to the Tories.

In the Guardian, Labour leader Ed Miliband offers to be moderate Tories’ champion.

Ed Miliband has made a direct pitch for the support of disaffected “one nation” Tories, insisting that he is on “the centre ground of politics” and would save the country from David Cameron’s rightwing, anti-EU agenda.

In an interview with the Observer, two-and-a-half weeks before polling day, Miliband reaches out to moderate Tories, saying Labour is now a party of “fiscal discipline” and social conscience that would tackle inequality and keep the UK firmly at the heart of Europe.

The Labour leader says: “I am a politician of the left, but I am positioned where the mainstream of politics is positioned. I am on the centre ground of politics.” By contrast, he describes Cameron as “ideologically beached” and with no answers about how to tackle inequality.

Appealing directly to Conservatives who want to build a fairer society, he says: “I want to reach out to Tory voters, to Liberal Democrat voters, to Ukip voters, to non-voters … to people who feel that David Cameron can’t answer the challenge of our time, who worry about our place in the European Union, who really think to themselves, ‘we can do a lot better as a country’.”

In the Mail, blond bombshell Boris Johnson issues a ‘Churchillian’ rally cry to the Conservatives in the Mail.

Boris Johnson has roared into life in the Election campaign with a Churchillian rally cry to defeat Ed Miliband in the ‘Battle For Britain’.

In an electrifying intervention designed to boost Tory morale, the London Mayor says a Labour victory would be ‘mad’.

He warns it would take the country back to the 1970s when British industry was brought to its knees by union barons.

‘I really don’t think Miliband gets that,’ writes Johnson in today’s Mail on Sunday.

‘He is one of those theoretical socialists who thinks the problem with socialism is that it has never been properly tried.

‘I am horrified at the idea he should be given another go. We need five more years to entrench this economic recovery, five years to take this country forwards and not backwards.

‘That is the Battle for Britain next month, and one this country can’t afford to lose.’

Vote swapping

Have you ever thought of swapping your vote with someone in a marginal seat?  The Independent says it’s possible.

Ben Little and Jonathan Rogers barely know each other. But, on 7 May, each man will walk into a polling station in different constituencies and cast their vote according to the other’s wishes.

The pair have agreed to swap votes – a form of tactical voting developed to increase the power of individual votes cast under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system. Neither man will be voting for his first preference, but both believe vote swapping will help them to maximise the chances of those they want to see in power.

Mr Little is a Labour supporter in Chipping Barnet, a safe Tory seat in north London. Mr Rogers is a Green Party supporter in the Labour target seat of Hornsey and Wood Green, also in north London, where Ed Miliband’s party has a real chance of unseating the Liberal Democrat incumbent.

Mr Rogers will vote Labour while Mr Little will return the favour by voting for the Greens in Chipping Barnet. The environmental party has no chance of winning the seat, but Mr Rogers’ support for the party will still be registered at the ballot box.

Further details are available on voteswap.org and swapmyvote.co.uk

Referendum

The Independent reports that the chairman of Tesco is unhappy about the referendum plans

The prospect of an EU referendum is causing uncertainty for investors, and this represents a “heavy pebble” placed in the scales of the British economy, the new chairman of Tesco has warned.

In an exclusive interview, John Allan criticised David Cameron’s pledge to hold a vote as “the cart very firmly before the horse” because the promise of a referendum had come before any EU reforms had been negotiated.

The warning from a senior business figure to the Prime Minister will come as a blow to the Conservatives’ key election pitch to promise a referendum and stave off a surge from Ukip. The Tesco boss also warned all political parties not to “lock the door and throw the key away” by implementing immigration controls that deterred skilled workers from abroad.

Mr Allan, who pointed out that he was not affiliated to any political party, also criticised Labour’s key manifesto pledge of a mansion tax on homes worth over £2m, saying it was “pretty difficult to justify”. He accused Ed Miliband’s party of a lack of clarity on how the levy would work.

NHS workers must speak English

Away from the election (is there such a place?), Sky News reports that Ed Miliband is claiming a Labour government would ensure all NHS workers speak English.

Ed Miliband has attempted to convince voters the party has learnt from its past mistakes on immigration by unveiling tough new measures to tackle the issue.

Mr Miliband admitted Labour had made errors in 2004 under Tony Blair that left “working people” facing “dramatic changes in their communities that were not planned or properly prepared for”.

Unveiling a five-point policy at an event in Wirral, the Labour leader said he would ensure that all NHS workers would be “required to speak English to a sufficient standard so they can care effectively for patients”.

He said a Labour government would legislate to give healthcare regulators the power to enforce the rule.

Mr Miliband spoke about how his parents had fled the Nazi regime and come to Britain and that had made him believe in a “shared society”.

He said this could only be achieved if people “speak the same language”.

Grexit

The prospect of Greece leaving the euro gets ever closer, says the Guardian.

The European Central Bank has raised the prospect of Greece crashing out of the euro after it said financial buffers were sufficient to prevent contagion to other weak economies in the currency union.

ECB president Mario Draghi said funds were sufficient to cope should Athens default on its debts, but warned that Europe would be entering “uncharted waters” that made the outcome of a default uncertain.

The intervention comes only weeks before Greece is due to agree a new rescue deal with its creditors. Negotiators in Brussels have become increasingly exasperated with the stance of the radical left Greek administration, which they accuse of failing to present concrete proposals for reform to allow the release of vital bailout funds.

Speaking in Washington at the International Monetary Fund’s spring meetings, Draghi said: “The short-term danger of contagion [from a Greek exit] is difficult to assess, but we have enough buffers in place. And even though they were designed for different circumstances, they are sufficient. But we are entering uncharted waters.”

Migrants

Are we likely to get a load more migrants?  In the Mail, Peter Hitchens seems to think so.

Funny how little we have heard from British liberals about a rather nasty outbreak of anti-immigrant violence this week.

Black South Africans burst on to the streets of Durban and Johannesburg, savagely attacking and threatening black immigrants from other parts of Africa.

Whatever this is, it isn’t ‘racist’. The assailants and victims alike are almost all black Africans. The fact that it is happening in a country liberals pretend is a rainbow paradise (when it isn’t) is also hard for them to handle.

The sad truth is that mass migration, whatever the colour of the skins of those involved, upsets and worries indigenous people, especially the poorest. If it is not controlled – and South Africa has utterly failed to control it for many years – it can lead to serious social conflict.

And if you think this doesn’t affect us, you are worryingly wrong. For Africa is exploding north and south, as war and famine uproot its unhappy millions.

Red Ed is mobbed by a hen party

And finally, the Mirror has a video of the moment Ed Miliband proves a hit with the ladies after being mobbed by a screaming hen party

This is the hilarious moment Ed Miliband was mobbed by a screaming hen party today.

The Labour leader was surrounded by the group of screaming young women on a hen night in Chester after his battle bus parked up outside their hotel.

One of the 25-strong group of hens from Knutsford spotted the Labour battle bus after she popped outside the Westminster Hotel for a crafty cigarette.

Within minutes the hen herself had been alerted along with the full entourage, the Chester Chronicle reported.

After some negotiations, Ed’s spin-doctors let the bride-to be on board for a brief one-to-one and a selfie. But after cries of ‘Ed, Ed, Ed!’ the man himself appeared at the door of the coach and waved for a group selfie.

Ed and his officials were getting dropped off at Chester Railway Station to return home to London after a long day of campaigning in the hot sunshine which began in Wirral where he launched a hard stance on immigration.

Next stop was Chester Racecourse where Ed met Labour parliamentary candidate Chris Matheson, councillors and supporters on the roof-top terrace of the 1539 restaurant. Mr Matheson hopes to overturn the 2,583 majority of sitting MP Stephen Mosley when Britain goes to the polls on May 7.

To loud cheers, he told supporters: “It’s great to be here. I want to thank all of you for the incredible job that you’re doing. Secondly, I want to hear a very big Chester cheer for Chris Matheson and the brilliant campaign he’s running. Let’s hear it for Chris.”

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