Two tests await Ed Miliband, Labour leader, and his party: polls across the country, and a referendum on the alternative voting system for which he is a principal campaigner. George Parker, political editor, talks to the leader of the UK opposition about the upcoming ballots, his call for a cultural change in the City o f London, and the coalition government’s deficit reduction strategy.   Read more

Nick Clegg has been warned by senior Conservative MPs that they will wreak revenge on him for the Liberal Democrats’ “Easter uprising”, including frustrating his plans for elections to the House of Lords. Read more

Here the FT’s South Asia bureau chief discusses the UK’s aid policy in India. What do you think David Cameron’s government should do? Join the debate in the comments section. Read more

From the FT’s Money Supply blog:

As far as Britain’s economy is concerned the spending review, just published, changes little. There was the “reprofiling” predicted first in the Financial Times, but it amounted to only £2bn a year of additional gross capital expenditure. This will not make the difference between stagnation and recovery. The Treasury is right: there is no Plan B. Read more

George OsborneCommentary led by Jim Pickard and Alex Barker of the FT’s political team, Michael Hunter, markets reporter, Gordon Smith,’s deputy news editor, Martin Sandbu, editorial writer and co-ordinated by Darren Dodd, of the UK newsdesk.

The chancellor sat down in the House of Commons at 1.33pm

JP: Osborne’s stroke of genius is to announce departmental cuts of 19 per cent – just lower than the 20 announced by Labour in March. Let’s wait to find if he is comparing apples with pears.

Average savings in departmental budget to be lower than the average implied in Labour’s March budget. Instead of average cuts of 20 per cent, there will be cuts of 19 per cent per department

Osborne says: “The measures set out today bring sanity to our public finances”

£15.8bn to refurbish schools

Schools budget to rise from £35bn a year to £39bn

More on education: Early years education budget for schools  to rise over each of the next four years. New £2.5bn pupil premium for disadvantaged children. And Sure Start services budgets will be protected in cash terms

Now for transport: The cap on rail fares will rise to retail price index plus 3 per cent for 3 years from 2012. £30bn to be invested in various transport projects over the next 4 years. M25 will be widened between 10 junctions. Crossrail will go ahead among other investments in Britain’s transport infrastructure

The BBC’s online budget will fall and it will not expand its activities competing with local media

Pilots of super-fast broadband to be started in the coming months

Now for the BBC: The BBC will take from the government the responsibility for the  World Service. The licence fee will be frozen for the next six years

Osborne says there will be £1bn to set up a “green investment bank”

JP: There is a 50 per cent increase in funding for apprentices. But the chancellor isn’t spelling out which schemes will suffer to pay for this – my bet would be the £1bn ‘train to gain’ fund (used to help companies send staff on training).

£220m invested in the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation at St Pancras. £200m to be invested in developing wind technology

Now for science: The science budget is protected at £4.6bn a year Read more

Jim and Alex will write a live blog of Ed Miliband’s keynote speech to the Labour party conference this afternoon. Come back here at about 2.15pm UK time to follow their coverage of the address by Labour’s new leader.  Read more

George Parker, political editor, reviews the long-awaited autobiography of Tony Blair, commenting on its lack of contrition and the ex-premier’s attack on his former friend and colleage, Gordon Brown. Read more

The FT’s Westminster team live blogs the launch of Tony Blair’s memoirs.  Read more

By George Parker, political editor

David Cameron was still glowing last night after his three-hour bonding session with President Obama, who took him on a tour of his personal apartments in the White House as well as the garden: a far cry from the short “brush by” offered to him when he was still leader of the opposition.

In spite of all the pre-meeting efforts to dampen expectations – Cameron wrote that he was not bothered by the “baubles” of the “special relationship” – his team were immediately anxious to tell journalists how well the meeting had gone.

In spite of the little local difficulty over BP, the two leaders joshed about the state of their children’s bedrooms and exchanged gifts: Sam Cameron bought a natty pair of pink and purple Hunter wellies for the Obama children. Read more

By George Parker, political editor

David CameronDavid Cameron likes things to be strong. And he likes things to be stable. How do we know this? Well the prime minister has shown a fondness for using the two adjectives in tandem, not least ahead of his visit to Washington. Read more

George Osborne sits down at 13.28 – that’s it, the Budget has been delivered. Now Harriet Harman will respond, but thank you for comments and for joining us.

Jim Pickard, political correspondent: Osborne’s promise to return to “financial prudence”… Could this be a dig at Gordon Brown by any chance? This was in happier days his favourite expression.

Jamie Chisholm, FT Global Markets Commentator: Gilts back to where we started, down 8 basis points at 3.45 per cent. Sterling little changed.

Child element of tax credit to be increased

Matthew Vincent: The chances of exchanging contracts on your second home by 5.30pm today look a bit remote. Best phone your solicitors and give them the hurry up…

Robert Shrimsley, editor of Is it my imagination or is George Osbrone saying “coalition government” much more now that he’s got to the nastiest parts.

 Read more

Update: follow our live coverage of the Budget here.

The Westminster blog will host a line-by-line summary of George Osborne’s Budget statement, featuring commentary from FT writers, from 12.30pm (or just before the Chancellor stands up). Jim and Alex will then return to the blog. Read more

From Gideon Rachman’s blog

In theory, I should know Britain’s new chancellor of the exchequer, really quite well. George Osborne grew up in the same street as me in London. We went to the same school. He used to be called Gideon, before changing his name to George. I once interviewed him for a job. But the odd thing is, I hardly know the guy.

The reason for this is rather humiliating. The chancellor, as I will have to learn to call him, is much younger than me. Eight years younger, to be precise; he has only just turned 39. So the first time I really met George Osborne was when I interviewed him for a job at The Economist in 1997. Read more

The graphic shows the new ministers’ backgrounds and their likely priorities in office. It will be updated throughout the day as more cabinet positions are made public. View it in full at

From FT Alphaville:

Here’s something of a surprise:

A fairly muted reaction (at pixel time anyway) from the UK banking sector to the new ConDem coalition.

Surprising because the Conservatives look likely adopt the aggressive anti-bank policies of the Liberal Democrats manifesto (although everything is subject to negotiation in this new collaborative age). Read more

Our expert election panel of Miranda Green, Charles Lewington and Matthew Taylor convened for the last time on Friday afternoon to unpack the campaign and provide insight into the hung parliament. Special commendation to Miranda Green, whose election prediction throughout the course of the campaign have been closest to the result.

 Read more

With Jim and Alex on frontline duties, Kiran Stacey, a fellow political hack, and Helen Warrell, who has helped co-ordinate the FT’s online and multimedia election coverage, will man this live blog. Jim, Alex and others will contribute. Follow the news, drama and tension of election night here.

The page should update automatically every few minutes, although it may take longer for those reading on a mobile.

1.58 KS: We’re about to shut this particular post down and open a new one, so sorry to make you navigate away. But stay with us and follow the story in the next post: The view from 2am.

1.57 KS: More bad news for the Lib Dems. They lost ground in Newbury, which the Tories took from them in 2005. Perhaps the message of “Vote Clegg, get Brown” was successful.

1.52 KS: 57 seats done, with an average swing of 3.3% from Labour to the Tories. But this number is warped by much figures from Scotland and Northern Ireland, says the BBC.

1.51 KS: Ed Miliband equivocal to say the least about Gordon Brown’s position. When asked by Paxman “It’s Brown or bust is it?” he replies, “I wouldn’t quite put it that way.” Read more

The podcasts will be recorded twice a week for the duration of the campaign – see the full list in the UK election podcast archive.

Britain’s historic general election – Martin Wolf for the FT
Cameron’s plans risk a postcode lottery – Vernon Bogdanor for the FT
UK hung up about hung parliament - The FT
Beleagured Labour unleashes Blair - The Guardian
Cameron is concealing his inner Bush - Johann Hari for the Independent

The debate:
An international view: In final British debate, economy is the focus – The New York Times
No surprises, lots of disappointment - The FT’s Chris Giles for Money Supply
The last debate – have Labour imploded? - Gideon Rachman’s blog for the FT
Barring an earthquake, David Cameron is on his way to No 10 - Jonathan Freedland for the Guardian
We came, we saw, but what did we learn? - David Aaronovitch for the Times
Pundit reaction – Politics Home

Gordon Brown interview: Waiting for substance to tell – The FT
Labour’s new welfare rights cost £8bn a year - The FT
Nick the negotiator says deal or no deal – Robert Shrimsley in The FT
Roy Greenslade on how the media dealt with Gordon’s gaffe – The Guardian
Brown was not acting out of character, says Andrew Rawnsley – The Guardian
Gillian Duffy turns down big cash offers from the newspapers. Could the gaffe cost 2m Labour votes? – Daily Mirror
Gaffe goes global – Coverage from the New York Times
Will the leaders answer the big economic questions tonight? Robert Chote in The Times

Jim and Alex will be doing another live blog tonight for the final televised leaders’ debate, which will focus on the economy. This time the event starts at 8:30pm on the BBC. Our rolling commentary will probably start earlier, from around 7pm. Read more