Cuts won’t trigger social unrest – George Osborne, FT
Which pledge will Cameron break first? - Gideon Rachman, FT
Brown’s legacy: no more Labour majorities – Donald Macintyre, The Independent
Honest Nick and his Lib Dem stardust – Jonathan Freedland, Guardian
Cameron in danger of pulling Queen into politics – The Guardian
Even though there are no constitutional rules – Ruth Fox, The Guardian
How has your region changed since 2005? - Political Betting
Agent Ashdown’s dead letter drop – Paul Waugh

Labour’s possible defeat fills European Left’s cup of woe – Tony Barber in The FT
Brown ponders post-defeat exit – The FT
Tories fear tax credit threat - Benedict Brogan in The Telegraph
Election leaflets: The best and worse revealed – The Guardian
Brown’s barnstorming speech: What took him so long? – Jonathan Freedland
The Ulster effect – James Forsyth on Specator Coffee House

Our expert election panel will meet for the final time on Friday afternoon for a video election debriefing. See the full list in the UK election podcast archive.

If coming third in the polls and a seemingly collapsing campaign strategy wasn’t causing enough stress within the Labour party, a Labour parliamentary candidate from North west Norfolk has called Gordon Brown “the worst prime minister we have had in this country”.

According to the Lynn News newspaper, Manish Sood, who is contesting a Tory-held seat, said: “I believe Gordon Brown has been the worst prime minister we have had in this country … It is a disgrace and he owes an apology to the people and the Queen.” Read more

They’re not perfect but the Tories fit the bill - FT Leader
Farewell New Labour but does Cam have a plan? – Philip Stephens, FT
Electoral reform is not a precondition – Clegg interview, FT
National Insurance row is an ‘irrelevance’ – FT
Vote Lib Dem if it makes sense in your area – Peter Hain in the Independent
My family will be voting Lib Dem in Norfolk – Ed Balls in New Statesman
Duffy and the shrieking gibbons – Armando Iannucci, The Independent
Tories 12 points behind in Lib Dem marginals – The Telegraph
But a word of warning about the sample size – UK Polling Report
Giving Lib Dems hope of taking Wells - The FT
Tory fundraising begins for second election – The Mail
The money is back on a hung parliament - Political Betting
Is Ed Balls throwing in the towel? – Mary Riddell in The Telegraph
Ministers drop tactical vote hints – The Evening Standard
Labour left clinging to hope – Julian Glover in The Guardian
Impartiality is over: Cameron gets my vote – Michael Grade for the Times
Off with their heads! Soon the cuts will begin – Rachel Sylvester for the Times
Brown delivers best speech of his campaign – Spectator Coffee House

“We are fighting to save tax credits”; seven words that sum up everything that has gone wrong for Gordon Brown in both this election and his premiership. I first noticed this, or a variation of it, in a radio news clip on Friday night; I then heard it again on Saturday and today. I’m fairly sure he’s said it in the debates but for some reason it only struck me this weekend.

You don’t fight for tax credits – you fight for hard-working families, you fight for the less privileged. Tax credits aren’t something you fight for, they are a mechanism. Only Mr Brown can elevate them into something worth fighting for in their own right. Tony Blair would never have made such a basic mistake.

One imagines a Brown variation on Winston Churchill: “We shall fight them to maintain a consistent quality of sand on the beaches, especially near the volleyball nets; we shall fight them on the landing grounds where they might seek to park in the bays otherwise reserved for the disabled and mothers with young children”. Read more

By this stage in the campaign, you’d have thought that Gordon Brown’s nails would be chewed to the quick. But as this picture from the Observer shows, they are longer than ever. He’s broken the habit of a lifetime – and not even the run in with Mrs Duffy triggered a relapse. Perhaps he is more at peace with the prospect of defeat than we assume (or more confident of victory than we could ever imagine).

 Read more

Poll blow for Clegg as voters think twice – The Sunday Telegraph
Brown’s game is up – James Forsyth in The Mail on Sunday
Once in a generation chance for change – The Independent
Cameron’s smooth approach to transition – Robert McCrum in The Observer
No need for hang ups about a hung parliament – Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer
Tories in 4-seat majority (if you include the unionists) – The News of the World
Tories plan bonfire of Labour laws – The Sunday Times

Jim Pickard

The long-awaited interview with Gillian Duffy is now with us (check out photos of her wedding, her childhood holiday to Margate, her father Walter in army days, etc) in the Mail on Sunday. Read more

The FT’s Robert Shrimsley joined Clive Anderson for the BBC’s weekly election show, The Heckler.  Click here for a link to the broadcast, which is a quirky, irreverent guide to this week’s events in the general election campaign. What the politicians really think of the voters they have to woo and flatter, and if we do get a hung parliament, will our leaders be simply too exhausted by all that campaigning to thrash out a deal to run the country?

Explore the FT’s new interactive graphic featuring profiles of the Lib Dem leader, his shadow cabinet and most trusted colleagues – and a sorting function to show how they are all connected. And if you missed it, the Tory Who’s Who also has full details of the Conservative shadow cabinet and the party’s behind-the-scenes strategists.

Last night’s Question Time ended on an extraordinary note. The public are more in favour of a hung parliament than the Tories care to admit. But I never expected an audience to heckle and boo Liam Fox when he warned of an indecisive election result triggering a run on sterling.

You can watch it here — the mob turn on Fox around 58 minutes in. Read more

Somewhere in Lib Dem HQ is a top secret target list. These aren’t the seats Nick Clegg visits; it’s an underground movement behind enemy lines. Not even Clegg will know the full battleplan. When Chris Rennard was leading campaigns, it was said that “the leader could never be trusted enough to see the canvas returns”. That probably still holds true.

Sadly I’ve failed in a long quest to uncover the list, but I’ve been given a few hints. The odds on Lib Dem wins have shortened considerably of late and I was waiting for a better moment to put down some money. But I’ve waited long enough. It’s time to take the gamble.

The strategy, if you can call it that, is to lay £5 on a eight seats that the Lib Dems have an outside chance of winning. They are split into four categories: 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

They all flunked it. The television debates have energised this election campaign. There are encouraging signs that they have jolted the nation out of its long drift to insouciant indifference. Voter turnout may well rise on May 6. But illumination? Clarity? Honesty? There was no winner on that score in Birmingham.

The third and final of these encounters should have been the best. It was about the issue that matters most to the voters: the economy. What they saw were three, rather shifty, politicians running away from the truth. Read more

Jim Pickard

Alex 10.50 Final post. An intriguing tweet from Evan Davis. Did any of the candidates actually win this debate? Or was it a dead heat? The polls indicate that Cameron prevailed. But the numbers are suspiciously close to broad voting intentions. Could it be that the public reverted to the person they were intending to vote for at the begining of the debate? I suspect few people would have had their opinion changed by the last 90 minutes. It will be interesting to see whether the post-debate spin has more of an effect.

Alex 10.47 Some final thought from Alan Schroeder, our US debate guru.

Debates do not always produce clear verdicts, and in my opinion this one qualifies as a three-way stand-off. Judging purely on optics and not on substance, I would call this Brown’s best debate of the three. I thought he handled the Mrs. Duffy gaffe with deftness, and I liked his lawyerly closing argument. Even Brown’s goofy smile at the very end came across as endearing rather than menacing.

Cameron has never quite come into focus for me in these debates. He’s obviously an intelligent, thoughtful, and well-spoken man, but from my perspective he doesn’t leave much of a footprint. That criticism notwithstanding, I would also call tonight Cameron’s best debate, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do well in the snap polls.

Clegg has consistently been the most interesting performer of the three, but tonight he seemed to be drawing from the same familiar well instead of broadening his message. One wonders if Clegg’s surprise win in the first debate may have caused him to peak too soon. A strong finish in round three might have given Clegg, in the immortal words of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, “that little extra push over the cliff.” Instead, he allowed both Cameron and Brown to make gains on him.

Jim 10.46 Clegg should also brace himself for a row tomorrow over his claim that 80 per cent of immigrants into Britain came from the EU. Apparently the real figure could be much lower; closer to a third.

Jim 10.43 Also, how come no one mentioned Gordon Brown’s Achilles Heel – ie his claim to have extinguished “boom and bust” permanently? And how come the other two didn’t nail Clegg over the LIb Dem policy of joining the euro? And did Cameron have a lucky escape in not getting grilled over his opposition to rescuing Northern Rock?

Alex 10.32 One thing to note. Was Vince Cable ever mentioned? What happened to the great Lib Dem economic titan? Had the economy been the topic of the first debate, we’d have heard Clegg repeating his name ad naseum. Shows how much his confidence has grown as leader. He don’t need little old Vince any more.  Read more

Who should govern Britain, The Economist thinks it’s David Cameron
Ten People Who Are Having a Good Election – Iain Dale
After all the fuss of yesterday, it is still the economy, stupid – Alastair Campbell
Opinion split on Bigotgate significance, says Sun/YouGov poll – The Guardian
Brown campaigns after ‘bigot’ row – Politics Home
Mervyn King: Election winner will lose power for 30 years – Evening Standard
British Leaders Brace for Final Television Debate – New York 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

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

Vince Cable attacks ‘cop out’ Tory spending plans – The Evening Standard
Darling: Time and again, Labour called it right on the economy – LabourList
‘That was a disaster’ – Nick Robinson’s Newslog
The “Thick of It” election – Hopi Sen
Brown gaffe on campaign trail – Politics Home
A highly damaging moment for Gordon Brown – The Times
Labour’s most dangerous moment of the campaign – The Guardian
Brown “mortified” at bigot comment – Alistair Campbell