Welcome to the Channel 4 News Election 2015 Live Blog.
Welcome to the Channel 4 News Election 2015 Live Blog.
The stage in Huddersfield is ready for Ed Miliband who is about to give a speech on the “epidemic” of zero hour contracts. He will say have increased levels of insecurity for working people.
The Labour leader will also be expected to respond to an open letter from over a hundred of Britain’s leading business people saying that a Labour government would “threaten jobs” and “deter investment” in the UK.
The Miliband battle bus is reported to have arrived at the factory in Colne Valley.
Preparations under way for a Q&A with Miliband at David Brown Gear Systems in Huddersfield. pic.twitter.com/W4Lg5U88FM
— Sam Lister (@sam_lister_) April 1, 2015
Mr Miliband is now speaking. He says that job security is “the bedrock” for working people
The Labour leader says that he himself would not survive on a zero hour contract saying that: “If it is not good enough for us, its not good enough for you, it’s not good enough for working Britain.”
He has now handed over to a Q&A at David Brown Gear Systems in Huddersfield and has challenged members of the Conservative Party and business leaders to try and live on a zero hour contract themselves. He said: “Whether it is me or David Cameron or other people in our society, I don’t think it provides security for you and your family.”
Meanwhile David Cameron has arrived at a brewery in Wolverhampton, with the Chancellor, George Osborne.
— Press Association (@pressassoc) April 1, 2015
The poll of eight marginal constituencies has found that the Deputy Prime Minister is two points behind the Labour candidate in Sheffield Hallam.
— Lord Ashcroft (@LordAshcroft) April 1, 2015
Constituency polling shows that Nick Clegg could lose his seat in May if his support remains at such a low ebb. The polling by Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative vice-chairman shows that Labour’s Oliver Coppard has pulled away by two points. The polling asks people about their planned voting intention based on party rather than the individual so it will may not reflect the influence of Mr Clegg’s incumbency and reputation in constituency.
Meanwhile the polling shows Julian Huppert, a very active local MP, has a 9 point lead making his seat the safest Lib Dem seat in the country.
Sajid Javid says that two thirds of people work under 25 hours a week and “like the flexibility” that zero hour contracts provide.
Speaking on the Daily Politics show he said: “Of course there are some people who would rather not be on a [zero hours] contract… but the only way we are going to achieve that is though a business friendly economy.”
Government, he says, “can not legislate that away.”
Mr Javid refuses to answer whether he is comfortable with companies such as Sports Direct employing up to 15,000 people on zero hour contracts. He said: “Politicians cannot force companies to have one type of contract or other, we can help the economy to grow and create jobs.”
#cleggbus arrives in Glasgow airport and who appears in the arrivals lounge but Ed Balls.
— Matthew Holehouse (@mattholehouse) April 1, 2015
Clegg media party bumps into @edballsmp at airport- he asks what Dpm up to today – "goldfish…? Hamsters?"
— Joey Jones (@joeyjonessky) April 1, 2015
Conservatives have received more than £9million in donations from business leaders who signed a letter backing the Tories, Guy Basnett and Paul McNamara report.
Analysis of Electoral Commission data reveals that 32 of the 103 signatories have donated either directly, or through their companies.
Since 2001 a total of £9,030,015 has been donated by the influential business leaders who backed the Tories in an open letter published in today’s Daily Telegraph.
Some of the biggest donors include Lord Bamford and the family business he is CEO of, JCB, and Zameer Choudary’s Bestway Group, and Wates Group Services whose CEO is James Wates.
Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, was challenged over how many of the signatories to the letter were members of the Conservative Party or had been previous donors. He told the Daily Politics: “That does not mean to say that they are not business people, when they talk people listen to them.”
He said: “Some of them would be Conservative supporters, some of them have been Labour supporters – what unites them all is they are all business leaders, all employers, these are the people that make investment decisions, there are the people that employ people.”
You can’t move for high profile politicians out and about on the streets today.
Boris Johnson has been campaigning in Hendon and has been discussing Labour’s announcement on zero hour contracts this morning. The Mayor of London said that Labour regard the capitalist system as something “fundamentally malign” that “needs to be punished and checked and corrected.” he said: “That was not the approach under Tony Blair. That’s why you are seeing this huge move now by formerly Labour business supporters to come out in favour of the Conservatives.”
Ed Miliband said that the letter from business leaders published in The Daily Telegraph this morning was not surprising. He told a speech in Huddersfield: Undermining hard work, undermining living standards, undermining family life. “People not knowing how much work they are getting from one week to the next, or one day to the next, not knowing the wages they will earn. “We have to end the epidemic of zero hours contracts.”
Tristram Hunt has been the subject of “robust questioning” at a school this morning.
— Tristram Hunt (@TristramHuntMP) April 1, 2015
Nick Clegg’s spokesman has issued a comment about polling that indicates the Liberal Democrat leader could lose his seat in May.
He said: “We are confident of winning Sheffield Hallam. We are not complacent. We do not take any voters for granted. But we are confident of winning because Nick has been the local MP there for 10 years. He’s got a record in Sheffield that we are happy to defend and that his constituents appreciate.
Meanwhile Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, said he is “absolutely certain” that Nick Clegg will keep his seat and “return as leader of the Liberal Democrats.” He told Sky News: “One of the problems with the Lord Ashcroft polls is they don’t actually name the candidates and I think when the full position is revealed, he will be back and he will be comfortably returned and he will return as our party leader. “I have no doubt about that.”
On the first day of the election campaign actor Martin Freeman joined the former Doctor Who star David Tennant in endorsing Ed Miliband’s bid for Prime Minister. Today another celebrity has revealed himself as a “Hampstead Socialist”, according to the Camden New Journal.
I don't believe it. Victor Meldrew actor Richard Wilson is 'proud to be a Hampstead socialist' pic.twitter.com/RmYC9wK2Ge
— Richard Ösley (@RichardOsley) April 1, 2015
The Deputy Prime Minister has responded to polling suggesting he may lose his Sheffield Hallam seat in May:
“I’m going to win. The poll, as it happens, didn’t even mention the candidates names and our own polling, where it does, it always shows a significant uplift in our support.
“And just if you look at the way people have voted rather than what they’ve said to Lord Ashcroft since 2010 people in Sheffield have consistently voted Liberal Democrat. Of the 16 local elections we’ve had since 2010, we’ve won 14 since 2010, so I’m confident, not complacent, but confident we’re going to win.”
It is 8.15 am and I’m at Ukip’s morning press conference. It is unusual to go to a Ukip event without Nigel Farage at the helm. Instead it is hosted by a rather nervous Patrick O’Flynn and Suzanne Evans with the intention of demanding that Cameron guarantees he will not consult Nick Clegg on the wording of the EU referendum question, and that he won’t extend the franchise in the referendum to 16 to 17 year olds and EU migrants – as happened in Scotland.
Instead they got themselves in a muddle over a rather old story about EU propaganda in the form of the colouring books for children.
At 10.30 nice young man turns up from Conservative HQ bearing four red mugs. Last night I speculated this might become the kitchen election but perhaps it will be mug election.
I have been collecting political mugs for over 30 years. They are all around the top of the walls of my study.
This new Conservative consignment comprises 4 red “Labour” mugs, one bearing the slogan “We definitely chose the right brother.”
At noon, after three days of trying, I finally make contact with Michael Burrows. Who is he you ask? I reckon he is probably the youngest candidate to stand in a Westminster Election in about 200 years. He is the Ukip nominee in Inverclyde, Scotland and was only 18 on the 6th of March. He will be 18 years and 62 days old on polling day. He is one of seven teenagers fighting the election and he tells me he was inspired to go into politics by people of his age, 16 to 17-year-olds, getting the vote in the Scottish referendum last year. Which is rather bad news for Alex Salmond, because it was his idea that 16 to 17-year-olds would be pursuing the independence cause, and Burrows is a strong unionist.
Ukip are against 16-17s voting in referendum, yet have youngest candidate anywhere – Michael Burrows, Inverclyde, 18 years & a few days old — Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) April 1, 2015
Ukip says a proposed British referendum on membership of the European Union should not be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds because of heavily funded pro-EU “propaganda”.
Ukip have accused the Liberal Democrats of trying to “gerrymander” a future in-out referendum by demanding that 16 and 17-year-olds and EU migrants were given a vote as the price for another coalition with the Conservatives.
But Ukip said people that young should not be able to vote in the referendum because they have been exposed to pro-EU propaganda.
He has used the speech at the Britvic factory in Pudsey to say that Labour’s plan to reverse the Government’s final cut in corporation tax, which came into force today, would create an “anti-business environment” in Britain.
Mr Osborne was also pressed on whether he personally could live on a zero-hours contract, Mr Osborne said: “Of course it would be very difficult.”
Earlier today Ed Miliband insisted that Labour will end the “epidemic” of zero-hours contracts that are “undermining family life”. He also challenged Conservative politicians and business leaders to live on zero hours contracts.
Mr Osborne said keeping job numbers high was crucial because not having work was “the greatest insecurity of all”.
— Pudsey Conservatives (@PudseyCons) April 1, 2015
We have just under five weeks to go to the general election.
Labour and the Conservatives are pretty much neck and neck. With political talking heads on every TV screen and more polls out every day understanding what everyone thinks will happen by May 7th is a complicated business in itself.
Here we take you through who the forecasters actually think will be left holding the keys to Downing Street next month.
Maria Miller, the former Culture Secretary, has abandoned her official Twitter profile because it brands her as an MP. As her bio(s) now explain:
“This twitter account was established while I was an MP. Parliament has been dissolved & there are no MPs until after the Election on 7 May 2015”
“Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Basingstoke”
And a nice new picture too.
New Labour’s Prawn Cocktail Offensive might be over… but it lives on in some quarters as Michael Crick prepares for tonight’s broadcast.
Gary Gibbon has been meeting worshippers at the Brent Sikh Centre in north west London discussing how parts of ethnic minority vote could be slipping away from Labour.
After a ladies prayer event they dropped in to have a chat while the centre put on a lunch for the congregation.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy continues his “northern velocity” cycle odyssey returning to the scenery of his childhood. Tonight he is in the Lancashire town of Nelson, where he grew up, to see how things have changed.
Chatting here to some residents in the pretty surrounding countryside he will end up live in Nelson Cricket Club, the home to the first ever black Lord, and asks what’s happened to community relations over in the years since he left.
— Jason Beattie (@JBeattieMirror) April 1, 2015
The letter has been signed by a hundred people including cafe workers, business leaders and people no zero hours contracts.
It comes after a letter was published in The Daily Telegraph signed by 103 business leaders saying that a Labour government would “threaten jobs and deter investment”.
Although some people are getting a bit fed up with the competitive letter writing.
I need 100 signatories for a letter begging political parties to stop organising supportive letters. Who's in?
— Jim Pickard (@PickardJE) April 1, 2015
One in five of the business people who put their name to a letter supporting the Conservative’s economic credentials have been given honours by David Cameron, the Independent has reported.
The 103 signatories to the letter published this morning include four Conservative members of the House of Lords, all of whom were ennobled by David Cameron.
A further 18 people who have received 18 MBEs, OBEs, CBEs and knighthoods over the last parliament signed the letter.
The Conservatives said their signatories are representative of the best of British business.
Channel 4 News Economics Editor Paul Mason says that above all business leaders tell him they want stability, but political parties are all too well aware that “businesses do not get votes, people do.”
Lord Bilimoria, the founder of Cobra beer and one of the signatories to the letter supporting Conservative economic policy, tells Channel 4 News the current economic climate is one in which business can flourish in, and Labour policies are “worrying”.
However former Morrisons Director Norman Pickavance says “this jobs miracle isn’t actually working in practice” as we have low productivity, despite low corporate tax levels. We need significant investment in training and skills, he adds.
He helped draft Labour’s policy on zero hours contracts, and former Morrisons Director Norman Pickavance tells Channel 4 News that he found such contracts were being abused much more than he had at first thought.
And the levels of job insecurity inherent in such contracts can have negative consequences on workers’ health he adds.
Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra beer, tells Channel 4 News we are lucky to be in Europe, as the UK benefits from the peace and prosperity it has generated.
Nelson in Lancashire is over 40 per cent Asian, but remains “strikingly segregated” finds local boy Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
A local community worker tells him the problem is white flight: “as soon as Asians begin start moving in to Nelson, the English people start moving out.”
Now the town has a new wave of Polish residents.
But can politicians do anything to tackle the lack of integration?
Both Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair succeeded because they stole traditional voters from the other side.
But this campaign seems to have gone tribal very fast.
While over a hundred business leaders openly sided with Conservative economic policies today, Labour was busy courting the people who are poor on cash flow but rich on votes, as Michael Crick found out: