Belfast Telegraph

Election live: Ed Miliband "quite sympathetic" to more bank holidays

Updates from the campaigns across the UK

Ed Miliband has revealed he is "quite sympathetic" to having more bank holidays.

The Labour leader held out the prospect of more time off for workers - economic impacts allowing.

Asked about Ukip's proposal for St George's Day to be designated a new bank holiday, he told LBC radio: "I am quite sympathetic to more bank holidays.

"But you have to be careful about what it means for the economy and all that," he added.

The Government's "best estimate" of the impact of the extra holiday held for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was a £1.2 billion loss - though it said it could be as high as £3.6 billion or actually provide a £1.1 billion boost.

Mr Miliband said he had not marked St George's Day as such this year but it was "always nice to celebrate it by campaigning in England".

Asked what the country meant to him, he said: "England means a whole range of things. It means a sense of fair play, it means incredible countryside, it is obviously the place where my parents took refuge after the Second World War so it means a huge amount to me."

Ross Kemp adds muscle to labour campaign

Actor and documentary maker Ross Kemp has hit the Thanet South campaign trail, hoping to bolster support for Labour.

The former EastEnders star joined Labour's Will Scobie on a walkabout down Broadstairs High Street, stopping to talk and pose for pictures with locals.

Kemp, a long-time and active Labour supporter who has fronted party political broadcasts, said Mr Scobie is "a local man who will champion local causes".

Star pulling power

Labour and the Conservatives are trying to outdo each other with their famous supporters on the campaign trail today.

Ex-England, Arsenal and Tottenham footballer Sol Campbell has been in Colchester with Conservative candidate Will Quince:

Miliband lashes Tory 'isolationalism'

Labour leader Ed Miliband has attacked the "small-minded isolationism" he says has characterised the last Tory-led government and says it has led to the UK's shrinking international influence.

Mr Miliband is giving a speech to foreign policy think-tank Chatham House in London. The Press Association's @sam_lister is on the scene.

The leader of the Opposition says David Cameron was "wrong" to assume Libyan institutions could evolve on their own. Mr Miliband says he has learnt the lessons of the Iraq war, adding that military action is a last resort and there must always be plans for peace.

Labour says the Tory attack on Libyan refugee comments is a "rather silly, utterly spurious piece of spin about a very serious speech".

Plaid Cymru: Leanne Wood in call for Youth Parliament

 Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru,  has called for the creation of a Youth Parliament for Wales and votes at 16 for the Welsh Assembly.

Campaigning in Aberystwyth with Plaid's youth wing, Ms Wood said: "Plaid Cymru wants to reinvigorate our democracy in Wales.

"I witnessed at first hand the democratic revolution that occurred in Scotland last year when people there of all ages, of all backgrounds, seized back the democratic process for themselves from the establishment. I spoke to a number of 16 and 17 year-olds in Scotland who had the right to vote for the first time.

"I know that young people here in Wales have the same yearning to shake up the system as they had there. To young people in Wales I implore you, make your voices heard.

"One way of giving these voices a platform would be the creation of a Youth Parliament for Wales - something which Plaid Cymru wholeheartedly supports.

"Plaid Cymru will also make sure that next year's National Assembly elections are the last where 16 and 17-year-olds are excluded. I want young people - wherever they're from - to realise that they have a stake in Wales' future and to join Plaid Cymru in building the new Wales."


Poll latest: Tories edging it

The Conservatives are on 33.6% and Labour is on 33.3% in the Press Association's poll of polls.

Ukip are in third place on 13.7%, the Liberal Democrats are fourth on 8.3% and the Greens are fifth on 4.7%.

Latest projections of the election result suggest the country is heading for another hung parliament, with no party set to win the 326 seats needed to form a majority in the House of Commons.

An average of the current forecasts by the Guardian, the New Statesman and gives the Conservatives a six-seat lead over Labour, with the Tories winning 276 MPs and Labour 270.

A new survey by Panelbase puts Labour on 34% (nc), the Tories on 31% (-2), Ukip on 17% (+1), the Lib Dems on 7% (-1) and the Greens

on 4% (nc).

SNP's Sturgeon will have 'gut feeling' on Scotiish Independence referendum

Nicola Sturgeon says she "will know in my gut" whether to include an independence referendum pledge in her next manifesto.

She told The Courier newspaper: "I think I will know in my gut whether it's the right thing or wrong thing to do and that will be down to not what the SNP wants, or what the SNP thinks is right, but what I think is right for Scotland and what I think the people of Scotland want."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland, Willie Rennie, said: "Nicola Sturgeon's gut should remember that Nicola Sturgeon's mouth said there would not be another referendum for a lifetime. Instead of being all mysterious, Nicola Sturgeon should rule out another referendum now.

"This latest statement takes one-member one-vote to the extreme. If Nicola Sturgeon and Nicola Sturgeon alone knows when the nationalists will put forward a second referendum, then Nicola Sturgeon should tell us now when it will be.

"She used to say the independence referendum was a once-in-a-generation event. This puts beyond all doubt that the SNP have reneged on their promise to the people of Scotland."

Clegg attacks Labour over Med refugee remarks

Nick Clegg has accused Labour of a "distasteful" attempt to make political capital from the Mediterranean refugee crisis.

The Liberal Democrat joined a row over a speech by Ed Miliband in which he is due to suggest the deaths of hundreds fleeing North Africa are "in part a direct result" of the coalition Government's 2011 military intervention in Libya.

Mr Clegg said it was "pretty distasteful to reduce this total human tragedy, hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean, to a political point-scoring blame game".

"Particularly as we are now bringing politics into this, from the party that of course brought us into an illegal invasion of Iraq for which there was no planning at all for the aftermath," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Labour supported the invasion. It is very easy to be wise with hindsight."

Mr Clegg insisted that "a considerable amount of thought went in by the international community" to the aftermath and "a huge amount of help and assistance and money has gone into trying to do our bit from outside".

He acknowledged that it was "legitimate to say that things then spiral in directions that you can't fully predict".

"All I would plead for is a little less finger-pointing wisdom from Ed Miliband - when he supported the intervention in the first place - and a little bit more adherence to facts about exactly who is ending up on these boats, why they are and what we can now do about it to stop this terrible tragedy," he said.


 Al Murray hits the bullseye

Comedian Al Murray might not be in the top flight of political candidates, but he has hit the bullseye with his latest group of supporters - a darts team.

A group of builders from Barking in East London are taking a two week break from their jobs to travel around the South Thanet constituency in Kent, where Murray is standing against Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Murray, better known as the Pub Landlord, is standing as a Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP) candidate, and drew up his manifesto on the back of a fag packet, including "making more stuff for profit, building new houses for people who make stuff and teaching more stuff in schools."

The six-man Double Diamond Geezers darts team will tour the constituency from tomorrow, playing charity matches and holding pub quizzes - all wearing burgundy jackets worn by Murray during his act.

Team captain Lenny Leminson said: "What's not to like about Al's big policy of cutting the price of a pint to 1p?"


Clegg's pledge to create 300,000 jobs

Nick Clegg has said the Liberal Democrats will create 300,000 new jobs in rural areas if they are in government after the General Election on May 7.

Launching the party's countryside charter, the Deputy Prime Minister promised to "close the gap" between urban and rural areas in the provision of high speed broadband, ensuring 99.9% of households are covered.

Other measures include help for farming, strengthening the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator to ensure farmers are paid fairly, publishing a national food strategy, and developing an animal disease strategy to lessen the risks and costs of animal disease.

The party says it will also take action to protect rural post offices and other essential services from closure, prioritise rural housing and boost tourism by introducing a "fuller" right to roam.


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