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Page last updated at 06:33 GMT, Monday, 26 April 2010 07:33 UK

Today: Monday 26th April

Tory plans to allow parents in England to set up their own schools could damage state schools, a Conservative County Council leader has said. And an NHS review has recommended that several children's heart surgery units should be closed and the operations carried out at fewer, specialised centres.

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The leader of the biggest local education authority in England has criticised Conservative plans for free schools. The Tory leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter says the funding arrangements for free schools could mean council run schools will get less money. Shadow children's secretary Michael Gove, reacts to the comments.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

The election campaign so far has been devoid of any of the political gaffes that we have come to be used to in many political fights. George Jones. Political correspondent for the Press Association political correspondent and veteran reporter on 11 general elections, looks back on momentous election blunders.

White farmers in South Africa are coming together to protect themselves against growing violence against black activists. More than 3,000 white farmers have been killed since white rule came to an end in 1994. Karen Allen reports on growing racial tensions in the country's rural areas.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The Foreign Office has been forced to apologise for a leaked memo suggesting that the Pope's forthcoming visit could see him opening an abortion clinic, blessing a gay marriage and launching a range of Benedict-branded condoms. The Bishop of Chester, the Right Reverend Dr Peter Forster, comments on whether political establishments are unsympathetic to the Christian faith.

The head of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, Lalit Modi, has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations of corruption and match-fixing. Rahul Tandon reports from Mumbai.

The paper review.

Over the course of the election campaign, the Today programme is travelling around the UK to investigate the political questions that matter to the electorate. Justin Webb visited Bristol North West, a hard to predict marginal constituency, to find out what voters think of the election race so far.

Thought for the day with Reverend Dr Giles Fraser.

As the election draws nearer, opinion polls are being used more and more in an attempt to establish how the parties are performing. Tim Harford, columnist for the Financial Times and presenter of Radio 4's More or Less programme, and Ben Page, chief executive of pollsters Ipsos Mori, analyse whether opinion polls can predict an election result.

Conservative leader David Cameron has said he might consider joining forces with the Liberal Democrats in the event of a hung parliament, and adopt electoral reforms which are heavily opposed by his party. Deputy political editor James Landale examines the implication of introducing electoral reforms on the dominance of the Conservative party. Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith and former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy discuss how a possible coalition between their two parties will affect their policies.

Author Alan Sillitoe who died yesterday, aged 82, was part of a generation of working-class writers who shifted the boundaries of taste. Sillitoe was one of the band of "angry young men" who arrived on the literary scene in the 1950s with tales of gritty, urban reality. Critic DJ Taylor and the writer Michael Collins reflect on Sillitoe's works.

Sports news with Rob Bonnet.

The rural vote is a vital vote if any party is to do well in the West Country and could be decisive in this year's general election. Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn, his shadow Nick Herbert, and Liberal Democrats Rural Affairs spokesman David Heath, outline their parties' rural policies.

The business news with Adam Shaw.

The United States has seen the rise of the Tea Party movement in reaction to President Obama's election win. Correspondent Kevin Connolly investigates what a British Tea Party movement may look like.

The general election has seen many firsts including TV debates and the strong prospect of a hung parliament. Mary Beard, professor of Classics at Cambridge University, Jane Humphries professor of Economic History at Oxford University and Margaret MacMillan, professor of History at Oxford University, consider how this election will be viewed in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to offer transcripts for our programme interviews. Today is broadcast live and the running order is subject to change.

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