A summary of today’s events
The Labour party said it would ban unpaid internships and guarantee first jobs for young people who are unemployed for more than a year, in an attempt to claw back youth support from the Green party.
Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour leader, unveiled the party’s manifesto for Scotland, which pledges money for health and education.
The latest Populus/Hanover predictor showed Labour almost five times more likely to form a leading coalition than the Conservative party. According to the model, there is a 40 per cent chance of a Labour/SNP coalition, but only a 5 per cent chance of a Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, even though Ed Miliband has ruled out a deal with the SNP and Nick Clegg has made it clear he is open for business.
The leader of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, bolstered Conservative claims of economic competence by declaring “what happened in the UK [economy] has actually worked”.
Wolfgang Schauble, German finance minister, openly endorsed Conservative economic policy, saying “the UK has done a very good job in the past few years and George Osborne has a very good plan for the future”.
Job statistics showed unemployment at a seven-year-low, causing a Conservative/Labour row over whether the UK has experienced a “jobs miracle” or low-wage growth.
The Conservative party and Ukip both launched their Welsh manifestos, with Nigel Farage promising Wales its EU regional grant in case of Brexit.
Donation data for the first week of the campaign revealed Labour’s financial reliance on the unions. It also showed the Conservatives rewarded by wealthy donors for cutting the top rate of income tax and resisting a new mansion tax. Read more
UK voters will elect a new parliament in a general election on May 7. Our poll-of-polls tracks all national-level voting intention polling figures going back to the 2010 election – the dots on our chart – and then calculates a rolling score for each party adjusted for recency and different pollsters. Read more
In bitesized form, here is a checklist of what we do – and don’t know about the man who would be prime minister’s plans:
What do betting markets make of the election so far? Well, if anything, they seem as confused as everyone else. Currently punters on Betfair are predicting that the Conservatives will win the most seats but that Labour will form a minority government and that David Cameron will be the next prime minister. Read more
The Scottish polls aren’t moving. Since Ipsos Mori shocked political observers at the end of October by showing a 29-point lead for the SNP, Labour have looked on course to lose dozens of seats to the Nationalists, perhaps ridding them of a Westminster majority.
This has unsurprisingly been seen as a disaster for Labour, and in the long run it probably is. But in the aftermath of what could be an incredibly tight general election result, Ed Miliband’s party might have managed to manoeuvre itself into a very strong position.
The pre-election poster battle intensified on Tuesday as Labour launched a new image parodying Saatchi & Saatchi’s famous 1979 dole queue montage for Margaret Thatcher, a key moment in the history of visual campaigning. Read more
If the SNP achieves anything like the victory polls suggest, we will discover quite how committed unionists really are towards the union. There will be a great temptation to respond violently to the good jock – bad jock tactics of Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond. There will also be a growing enthusiasm – especially among Conservatives – to exchange home rule in Scotland for English votes on English laws. Of course, this is what the SNP wants them to think : that the only way to destroy nationalism is to destroy the union.
Leaders of seven of the parties standing in next month’s UK general election are appearing in a one-off TV debate on Thursday night.
This is the only occasion that Conservative prime minister David Cameron will appear on a podium at the same time as any of the others, including his main rival for Number 10 Downing Street, Labour leader Ed Miliband. But in what is predicted to be the closest election in modern times there is as much interest in the smaller parties who could hold the balance of power.
By Mark Odell and Jim Pickard
Some supporters of Scottish independence believe in the conspiracy theory that MI5 was working against a Yes vote. Others have so much optimism bias about the economics of independence that I worry there is dopamine* in their Irn-Bru.
And let’s not mention the secret oil fields. Read more
The Labour Party has always boasted the lion’s share of celebrity endorsements and this election promises to be no different as the opposition tonight releases an election broadcast starring Sherlock actor Martin Freeman and Doctor Who hero David Tennant.
The video, which will run at 5.55pm on BBC Two, 6.55pm on BBC One and 6.25pm on ITV, features Freeman telling a camera that the 2015 general election will be “a choice between two completely different sets of values.” Read more
Take a look at our new graphic which details our four key battlegrounds: SNP target seats; Tory-Labour marginals; the rise of Ukip; and the collapse in Lib Dem support.
This week’s data are a timely reminder that with less than seven weeks to go until polling day and Labour and the Tories neck and neck when recently published polls are averaged, the relationship between poll leads and who might become prime minister is not straightforward. Read more
Research by Elizabeth Rigby, Jim Pickard, Kiran Stacey and George Parker
The refurbishment of Muni Theatre in Pendle might not seem an obvious priority for George Osborne in his annual Budget statement.
But the north-western town is one of a number of marginal election battlegrounds to have benefited from the chancellor’s generosity just weeks from polling day. Read more
Chancellor George Osborne has promised “no giveaways, no gimmicks” in today’s Budget – but there is sure to be plenty of politics.
Less than two months before the UK’s general election, he will attempt to translate the economic recovery into votes for the Conservative party at what is shaping up to be the most unpredictable general election in living memory.
By John Aglionby, Claer Barrett and Jonathan Eley
On Thursday March 19 2015 between midday and 1pm (GMT), a panel of experts will answer your questions about this year’s Budget.
Submit your questions in the live reader comments field (on the right-hand side of this post) or email the money team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also tweet questions to #FTBudget2015
We will choose a selection for our panel to answer. On the panel are:
- Patrick Stevens, tax policy director, Chartered Institute of Taxation
- Adam Palin, tax reporter, Financial Times
- Josephine Cumbo, pensions correspondent, Financial Times
The discussion will be moderated by Lucy Warwick-Ching, FT Money Online editor.
“If we sat here 40 years ago, having this conversation your point would probably have been valid. I don’t think it is today. I really don’t think it is today.” — Nigel Farage, Channel 4, 12 March, via BBC.co.uk
In an interview with Trevor Phillips, former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, to be broadcast by Channel 4 next week, Nigel Farage argues that laws against racial discrimination are no longer necessary. He also insists that the United Kingdom Independence party, which he leads, is a “colour blind” political party. Read more
The idea that a staunchly leftwing Scotland is ideologically different – and diverging – from England is among the arguments used by advocates of independence.
One of the ways this is supposedly expressed is via Scots’ more liberal attitudes to immigration. During the referendum campaign, the leaders of the Yes side called for a more open policy than the UK government’s. And for the most part, they expressed a nationalism based on citizenship rather than on ethnic or family ties. Alex Salmond, then leader of the Scottish National party, contrasted a Scotland that welcomed immigrants with an England increasingly uneasy with its border policies. Read more