BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

The Full Election Story: 18 April

By Emma Griffiths, Lisa Mitchell and Brian Wheeler

  • Gordon Brown says Lib Dem policies must be "exposed" after polls suggested a jump in support for the party
  • The prime minister also held an emergency meeting about the rising crisis in air travel
  • David Cameron targets voters aged over 50, with a pledge to restore the link between pensions and earnings
  • Nick Clegg urges voters aged 18 to 25 to register to vote before Tuesday's deadline

0001Tony Blair's plans to get out on the campaign trail for Labour could be hampered by the volcanic ash cloud. The ex prime minister is currently in Israel but was expected back in Britain this weekend, according to his wife Cherie.

2358Susan Lange, in Lichfield, writes: If the Scottish and Welsh parties are allowed air time, sureley the English Deomocratic Party should be allowed equal time also?
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2352John S, in London, writes: One reason so many under 25s aren't registered is that many frequently move house, particularly students. If you move somewhere new, there's a council tax demand in days, but somehow paying the tax doesn't put you on the electoral role - what happened to no taxation without representation?
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2310 The Daily Telegraph reports that the Tory leader is planning to launch a "positive" offensive to head off the threat from the Lib Dems.

2250The front pages of Monday's pages have started to arrive. David Cameron goes on the offensive against the surge in Lib Dem popularity by warning in the Guardian that a vote for Nick Clegg risks the country being "stuck" with Gordon Brown in No 10.

2235Neil Carslaw, in London, writes: My local Lib Dem candidate has just printed and delivered a leaflet in which he promotes his campaign. He has spelled "Iraq" as "Eraq" in big, bold font on the back of the leaflet. Should I vote Lib Dem to increase spending on education?
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2148"If Clegg's Lib Dems held the balance of power it would be the first time in Rupert Murdoch's life that he was locked out of British politics." So says former Sun editor David Yelland of his old boss, in the Guardian.

2106On the latest poll from YouGov, our top poll analyst David Cowling says: "The normal margins of error make it unclear whether the Lib Dems or the Conservatives are really in first place but no dispute that Labour is third."

2020Latest poll - this time YouGov's daily one for the Sun - shows the Lib Dems in the lead on 33%, Conservatives 32%, Labour 26%, Others 8%. Polling was carried out on Saturday and Sunday.

1952WaveyDavey001, in Bath, tweets: Wow. Apparently last month 56% of those under 25 who could vote weren't registered! After all that debate on the #DEBill too.
Read WaveyDavey001's tweets
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1916Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has a personal reason for wanting to see the ash cloud move on. His three young sons Antonio, eight, Alberto, five and one-year-old Miguel are supposed to be back at school on Monday but are stranded in Spain with their grandparents. "I have just been on the phones this afternoon to try and work out how I can, perhaps, get my children on to a train from Spain to France and so on. I think information is what families desperately need at the moment."

1853ajhalls1 tweets: Although it's not difficult, registering to vote should be simplified. Having to post a form puts people off #ge2010
Read ajhalls1's tweets
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1846The government's primary concern is the safety of passengers, Lord Mandelson said on the issue of some airlines complaining that the air shutdown is too severe.

1844Cobra - the UK's civil contingencies group - is to meet at 0830 on Monday morning.

1840Transport minister Lord Adonis says Met Office advice is that it would not be safe for flights in Europe on Monday. He is flanked by Lord Mandelson, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and security minister Lord West.

1837Business Secretary Lord Mandelson is speaking outside 10 Downing Street after emergency talks on the ash cloud break up.

1805And his Tory counterpart, Theresa Villiers, called for reassurance from the government that they are doing all they can to get people home. "With thousands of Britons stuck in airports overseas, it is hugely worrying," she said.

1730As there appears no end in sight for the ash cloud, Lib Dem transport spokesman Norman Baker is warning travel operators against cashing in on stranded passengers. He urged them to "act responsibly".

1705Asked how long it will be before planes are back in the skies, Lord West answers "a while, I think".

1700 Ministers are arriving at No 10 ahead of the emergency meeting called by Gordon Brown on the volcanic air crisis. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Security Minister Lord West are among those to have made their way into Downing Street.

1627 SNP leader Alex Salmond, who is stepping down as an MP as he's also an MSP, is on the campaign trail in his Banff and Buchan constituency. He is to give a speech having a dig at the "tired, grubby Westminster machine" and urging voters to help create a "balanced Parliament" - by voting for more SNP MPs.

1602 The Tories have come up with their own eight point plan to tackle the volcano chaos, which includes chartering ships to bring Britons stranded in Europe home, and using the Royal Navy and "piston engine planes" to help people get back.

1559 A bit more detail on the ministerial meeting. Downing Street says it will look at the problems resulting from "volcanic ash in the atmosphere" and "what more the government can do to mitigate its effects" - including help for Britons stranded abroad, implications for the industry and "what more can be done on a European level".

1553 More volcanic ash news - Gordon Brown is to chair a meeting of ministers at 5pm about the continuing problems.
Gordon Brown

1548 Downing Street have confirmed that Gordon Brown will do the Dermot O'Leary interview too - so first time voters hoping to put a question to the PM should also get in touch

1537paulie writes: As a floating voter I think it is great that the Lib Dems seem to have rattled the two main parties so much. It is interesting that Cameron is now trying to scare people into voting Conservative with his "fears" about a hung parliament. And Brown is asking us to scrutinize the Lib Dem policies even though in the tv debate he tried to cozy up with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats for 90% of the time. After the expenses scandal I was thinking my protest vote would be for the Green Party but their "living wage policy" is unrealistic. But it now seems to me that possibly the only way we, the British public can take control and give politics the shake it needs is to vote Lib Dems en mass. This could actually be exciting for once. Have Your Say
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1533 In Lord Mandelson's latest Labour campaign memo he says "thanks Nick" to the Lib Dem leader for, as he puts it, triggering a "public reaction to this closed shop election". But he suggests when people take a closer look at Lib Dem policies "my bet is that most people will not follow through on their current flirtation with Nick".

1517 A big shout out to all young first time voters out there. Dermot O'Leary - of Big Brother and X Factor fame - is to interview David Cameron and Nick Clegg for BBC Three and wants your questions.

1420 Elsewhere on the campaign trail - away from talk of TV debates and hung parliaments - the Monster Raving Loony Party has launched its manifesto with an unusual solution to London's congestion problems - floating bicycles. That way people could cycle on canals, says the party. It's not Crossrail, but it's a start.

1410tkjones3434 tweets from London, UK: Party leaders talking about development on election World Poverty Day, but media ignoring it. #ukelection #voteglobal Read tkjones3434's tweets
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1403 Eric Pickles also tells the BBC that Conservative activists are reporting "that on the doorstep there's general agreement that David did very well in the debate. There's agreement, sure, that the Liberals did well but we aren't detecting any shift in their decision to vote".

1354 Tory chairman Eric Pickles plays down the idea that the Tories will be turning their guns on the Lib Dems after Nick Clegg's well-received performance in the TV debate. Mr Pickles told the BBC: "It's a long way between now and the election and the last thing I think the public needs is for a bunch of politicians to start taking lumps out of another. This country needs change. I would be urging all Conservatives to get on the doorstep and to talk about the change we want to bring to this country."

1338 BBC political correspondent Mike Sergeant says the Lib Dems have told him that online donations by individuals have shot up since the debate and visits to the party website are eight times higher. The party also says it has attracted 1,600 new members but party strategists are keen to keep their "feet on the ground" and know that opinion is highly volatile. Comparisons between Nick Clegg and Winston Churchill are dismissed as "absurd", but officials can't quite conceal their glee at the headlines in the Sunday papers.
Mike Sergeant

1317 Vince Cable tells the BBC's Politics Show that if Gordon Brown and David Cameron choose to turn their fire on Nick Clegg at this week's debate, having spent the last one saying "we agree with Nick Clegg", it will only illustrate "they are hardly consistent in their approach to us".

1307newstevie32 writes: The reform our political system should have is not PR, where minority parties hold the whip hand and where sovereignty is further taken from the people as the parties stitch up the backroom deals to get them into power. All that PR gives you is a Government nobody elects. Rather we should figure out a way to separate the Legislature (Parliament) from The Executive (The Government) so that MPs can truly represent their constituencies and properly scrutinise the Government and hold it to account. As it stands MPs are simply Government fodder or Opposition automatons. Just look at the way this Government has steamrollered legislation through. Have Your Say
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1304 The Lib Dems' Vince Cable has been stressing the "fundamental differences" between his party and Labour and the Conservatives. The 3rd biggest party has been facing lots of questions about who they would side with in the event of a hung parliament. Labour says they share "progressive" roots with the Lib Dems. Mr Cable is having none of it saying Labour has a "terrible record on civil liberties" and saying they differ on ID cards and the "surveillance state" and on Trident.

1246 Politics Show commentators Jane Moore and Phil Collins - not the singer - question whether Nick Clegg's popularity will last. Jane Moore points out the Lib Dem leader may also suffer from being seen as a bit posh. When he was a Westminster School pupil he apparently used to get woken up in the morning and given his newspaper by none other than TV's Louis Theroux -who was a fellow pupil. Theroux recounted this story to the BBC's One Show. Mr Clegg told the Mirror he had "no recollection" of that.

1240 Over on the BBC's Politics Show, shadow chancellor George Osborne is asked whether they've had a "wobbly weekend" over at Tory HQ after the Lib Dems' poll surge. "No we have not," Mr Osborne says. "We're looking forward to the next two and a half weeks of the campaign". He reiterates his party leader's message that only the Conservatives can "bring change". "You have to take this in your stride," he adds.

1225They may be shying away from talk of what happens if there's a hung parliament but it appears Mr Brown and Mr Clegg have entered into a Lib-Lab pact to keep their ties and jackets on - despite the warm weather. David Cameron went more casual. Mr Brown laughs as children at the meeting shout: "I've seen you on TV" and mob him for his autograph. What was that comment earlier about it not being an X-Factor contest?
Gordon Brown

1219Mr Brown addresses the congregation with a few memories about his father - a Church of Scotland minister. He says the great social movements have foundations in religion. The fact Development Day is a central day in the calendar - despite the election campaign - is a sign that "none of us will give up" until there is an "end to inequality and justice", he says.

1207samoxford writes: I think it is ridiculous to talk about LibDems not standing a chance because of the seat implications - the seat predictions rest upon the assumption of a "uniform swing", i.e. the same shift of preferences in every constituency. HOWEVER, it's more likely that voters will shift to LibDem in LD marginal constituencies - those not are more likely to vote tactically - and *this will show up in the polls*. I.e. stop talking about LDs only getting 100 seats on the current swing. Have Your Say
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1213 Gordon Brown has arrived at a chapel in north London, with his wife Sarah for company. He's meeting congregation members there and seems quite cheery - he's powering his way through the handshakes and chatting about the weather.
Gordon Brown

1210johnellison tweets from Leicester, UK: GB much better on Andrew #Marr this morning, #labour #ukelection has he been watching NC over and over? Read johnellison's tweets
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1152David Cameron finishes by saying, as it's his wife's birthday, he'd better head home or he'll be in trouble.
David Cameron

1151Mr Cameron is asked about Nick Clegg's popularity boost after the debates. "I think people will judge the debates", he says. "If you want real change... The only way to get it done is to have a Conservative government." He says he wants to "accentuate the positive" and "never mind what the others are doing".

1147 Mr Cameron also says older people should not be erased from magazines and praises Marks and Spencer for using Twiggy in its campaigns - and Dove for using older women too. He says the "best years are still ahead" for Britain and attitudes must be changed so old people are not seen as a "liability" - but instead draw on their wisdom. "They made this country great, and together we can make this country greater still," Mr Cameron says.

1142 Mr Cameron says pensioners "will get more money to live on" if the Conservatives win - by linking state pensions to earnings. He also defends his pledge to raise the threshold for inheritance tax - Labour like to target this Tory policy as a tax break for "millionaires". But Mr Cameron says he is standing up for people who work hard and want to leave their homes to their children - the tax should only be paid by the rich, he says.

1133 Conservative leader David Cameron is on his feet for his speech reaching out to older voters. The sun's out in Swindon and his shirt sleeves are rolled up. He starts off by thanking his own parents for showing him how a "big society" could work - the "big society" being the theme of the Tories' manifesto. He says his dad used to work really hard - and his mother, a magistrate, would tell them all about "Swampy up his tree" - presumably she was dealing with Newbury bypass protest cases.
David Cameron

1130 Nick Clegg laughs as he tells the BBC "it is completely absurd" to suggest he's as popular as Britain's wartime leader Winston Churchill - as suggested by a Sunday Times headline. But he says he hopes an increasing number of people think the "same old patterns of the past" don't have to be repeated at this election.
Nick Clegg

1122 The PM is due to make a short speech in north London at noon but next up on the campaign trail is David Cameron, who will be speaking in Swindon in a few minutes' time. Meanwhile Sky News is hosting a debate in Cardiff involving Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, Kirsty Williams for the Lib Dems and Cheryl Gillan for the Conservatives. No Sunday lie-ins for the politicians this morning.

1118 Pete from St Albans, UK writes: Glad someone is trying to organise something to help people get back. I'm just wondering what steps the government were taking to help. Are they putting pressure on the ferry companies & eurostar to do more trips to Calais, have they got the army involved, or are they doing nothing other than talking up their manifestos.
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1110 Will Mr Brown remain as PM for another five years if Labour wins? "I am fighting on a manifesto that is a five-year manifesto to change this country," he says. Mr Brown adds: "I want to serve and I want to serve because of the health service, because of schools, because of policing."

1105 Pressed on his thoughts on a hung parliament, Mr Brown says he wants a majority, so obviously he thinks a hung parliament would be "a bad thing". He says he was "shocked to my core" by the expenses scandal - and that was what was behind his calls for a referendum on the voting system. Perhaps in a sign of things to come, Mr Brown says the Lib Dems - who he refers to as "the Liberals" - "made a mistake" on their economic policies.

1101 Andrew Marr suggests that the PM can't stand David Cameron, yet referred to him on a first name basis during the debate: "I like David to talk to - don't be ridiculous!" Mr Brown says - he just disagrees with the Tory leader "fundamentally" on the issues. So there you have it. Asked how he might change his approach for the next debate on Thursday, he says it is not about "tactics".
Gordon Brown

1057 Mr Brown refers to a story about Goldman Sachs: "I'm the man to deal with these problems with the banks" says the PM. He says Nick Clegg's apparent popularity after the TV debate means the election is "wide open" - but he looks pretty confident, smiling as he asks "who's best" to deal with issues like the economy, Iran and other major issues.

1055 What about his performance? "I lost on presentation... maybe I lost on smiling", says Mr Brown - but he says in the end "substance" will come through."I'm not certainly trying to be the king of presentation", he says. "This is not an X-Factor talent show".

1051 On to the TV debate and his comments on immigration. Mr Brown says a lot of new jobs have gone to women, the over 50s and young people - after being accused of claiming to create a lot of new jobs, many of which went to economic migrants. Have too many people come into the country? Mr Brown says there is a "far lower proportion of foreign born people" in the UK than in America, Switzerland and other countries. He says he is "controlling" and managing immigration.
Gordon Brown

1044 Mr Brown is on the Marr programme and says the volcanic ash cloud is one of the most serious disruptions Britain has seen - but he says passengers safety is the most important thing. He also says the government are doing everything they can to help passengers with extra train and ferry services - maybe he's been reading the Express story too?

1032 Chris Addison - of The Thick of It fame - and Kirsty Young are on the Andrew Marr Show going through the papers - Chris sticks up for Mr Brown who, the Sunday Express suggests, has "abandoned" 1m Britons left stranded by the volcanic ash cloud. He points out it's not exactly clear what the PM can do about it. Nick Clegg's not the only one who was separated from loved ones by the ash - Kirsty Young's husband got stranded too but eventually found his way back via Calais.

1020 timharmer tweets from Basingstoke, UK: Does anyone really give a stuff about celebrity party endorsements? #ukelection Read timharmer's tweets
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1018 Over on BBC One, Andrew Marr's show - delayed by the Grand Prix - is starting. Gordon Brown will be on in a bit - what does he think about the first prime ministerial debate? And, for that matter, the volcanic ash cloud that is still causing chaos for anyone who had a flight booked? Stay tuned.
Gordon Brown

1012 Mr Clegg seems in a relaxed mood. He bats away Conservative suggestions that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for a European "super state" with a laugh - saying he seems to remember they offered a "cast iron guarantee" of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if they won power. By the way, he's been affected by the giant volcanic ash cloud too - his children are in Spain and can't get back.

1008okwithmydecay tweets from London, UK: Is international mail coming into the UK affected by the ash? If so, isn't that going to mess up postal votes in the #ukelection? Read okwithmydecay's tweets
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0958 Anticipating a Conservative attack on his party's European policy, Mr Clegg - a former MEP - says while the EU is not perfect, Britain "can't pull up the drawbridge". He says the Conservatives must ask themselves if they want to "constantly obsess" about one issue. He also says "no one believes a word that Gordon Brown says about political reform" - as the government has not pushed through House of Lords reform in the past 13 years.

0950 Nick Clegg's addressing young voters in Sutton. He says the Lib Dem poll surge is "only a start" but adds: "A growing number of people are starting to hope to believe". He says: "A little door has opened".
Nick Clegg

0945 Senior Conservative Andrew Mitchell has also been responding to a story in the Observer which says former charity leaders have said Tory policy on international development is "political positioning" - he says of the four people who signed a letter to the paper, one is a Labour peer and one is a Labour Parliamentary candidate. He points to another article by Jeff Sacks and David Cameron which he says shows the Tory policy has been "widely welcomed across many NGOs" - if acronyms leave you cold, that's non-governmental organisations.

0935 Ricky writes: The apparent Clegg surge is more about sensationalist reporting than it is about a strong performance in the TV debates. Following the debate, the group that I was with all thought that the party leaders performed adequately and equally. It was only following the BBCs immediate desire for a 'winner' that people deemed Clegg to have had a good performance. Clegg's current surge is a media construction - I hope it doesn't last.
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0927 The BBC's Carole Walker, in Birmingham at an Islamic relief aid charity with the Conservatives, says Mr Cameron will stay "above the fray" while other Tories target Lib Dem policies - particularly that of joining the Euro, when the economic conditions are right. Tory frontbencher Andrew Mitchell says people will be "looking carefully at what the Liberal Democrats are saying" and says the Tories are putting forward a "relentlessly positive" approach. "The choice about who is in Number 10 after the next election remains a choice between Gordon Brown and David Cameron", he says.
Carole Walker

0910 David Cameron is up early and visiting an international development project in Birmingham where he's chatting about his visit to Darfur and Afghanistan - his shadow international development minister Andrew Mitchell has joined him. We're expecting a speech from the Tory leader a little later.
David Cameron

0855 Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail says it is "astonishing" that Mr Clegg is being compared to Winston Churchill and says it can't last. Former News of the World editor Phil Hall tells the BBC he expects David Cameron to "turn on Nick" in the next debate. He also points to a story in the Sunday Telegraph pointing out some mistakes in Nick Clegg's comments during the debate, including one that there are 8,000 bureaucrats in the MoD working on communications - in fact, it says, there are 110.

0836 Clegg mania continues. Never mind the new Obama - the Sunday Times leads with "Clegg nearly as popular as Churchill". Blimey - who next? Mandela?

Nick Clegg
Is Nick Clegg the new Barack Obama? That may be pushing it a bit, but the Observer carries an interview with the Lib Dem leader and notes that his last-minute bid to get young voters to register mirrors a campaign by the US president. His party's poll success seems to have spooked his rivals. The Tories are warning that a vote for the Euro-friendly Lib Dems is a vote for a European "super state".

0800 Good morning and welcome back to our live text commentary. Gordon Brown will be on Andrew Marr's show later - Nick Clegg's been speaking to the Observer about his campaign to win over 18-25 year old voters, as polls suggest his TV debate performance has boosted his party in the polls. Meanwhile David Cameron will be trying to woo the over 50s with pledges on pensions and benefits.

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