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Main parties feel they are struggling to be heard

The two leaders most likely to be prime minister after the general election, David Cameron and Ed Miliband, have been struggling to get their message across, party insiders have told our Political Editor Tom Bradby.

There are even media reports tonight that Labour has been in behind-the-scenes talks with Sinn Fein to lay the groundwork for a potential coalition agreement.


Cameron to vow further deficit action in election speech

David Cameron will today vow to run a surplus if the Conservatives win the upcoming election, as he makes a speech on the deficit.

David Cameron will call on voters to stick with the Conservatives' Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

The statement on the deficit will launch the first of six key "themes" the Tories will be campaigning on ahead of May's poll, with others including job, taxes, education, housing and retirement.

He will say that Britain "has a responsibility to act" on its debt to ensure "we do not leave a crippling legacy of debt our children and grandchildren could never hope to repay".

As part of the promised effort, the Prime Minister will commit a future Conservative government to reduce spending, tackle tax avoidance and "control" the welfare budget.

However, he will also promise to "continue to increase spending on the NHS", after the opposition's recent criticisms over the government's handling of the service.

Cameron will also attack rival parties for "uncosted plans", claiming the electorate's choice will be between "staying on the road to recovery - or choosing the path to ruin".

Tories vow to toughen strike laws if they win election

Conservatives will legislate to make it more difficult for unions to call strikes in key public services if they win this year's election.

Industrial action in the health, education, transport and fire services would require the support of at least 40% of all those entitled to take part in strike ballots - as well as a majority of those who actually turn out to vote.

A march and rally held by striking public sector workers took place in central London in July 2014. Credit: Jeff Moore/Empics Entertainment

A Conservative source said this would prevent strikes going ahead on the basis of majorities in ballots in which only a small proportion of the unionised workforce has participated.

The move was denounced as a "democratic outrage" by the TUC, who said it would effectively end the right to strike in the public sector at a time when Conservatives are planning pay restraint and large-scale job cuts.

GMB general secretary Paul Kenny pointed out that Conservatives failed to secure 40% support of those who voted in the 2010 general election, while only 15 Tory MPs had the backing of 40% of those entitled to vote in their constituencies.

Under proposals to be included in the Conservative manifesto for the May 6 election, Tories also pledged to end the ban on the use of agency staff to cover for striking workers, and promised a review on the possible introduction of minimum service levels to ensure that core services remain available during strikes.


Osborne and colleagues laugh at leadership hustings gag

George Osborne and his senior Cabinet colleagues laughed as they were asked if they could each say why they might make a good leader of the Conservative Party.

Osborne, William Hague, Theresa May, Nicky Morgan and Sajid Javid were addressing journalists on the cost of Labour's policies when it was suggested the event looked like a leadership hustings.

"We're not going to do that," the Chancellor said after the laughing subsided.

"This is a team united behind David Cameron, a strong Prime Minister who lead our country in the coming years."

Osborne denies cost analysis 'a load of nonsense'

George Osborne has denied the party's cost analysis of Labour's policies is "a load of nonsense" when questioned by ITV News Political Editor Tom Bradby.

"No, we've been very clear that the commitments that we use are ones that are either in Labour policy documents or in party conference speeches," the Chancellor said.

"We've done the thorough homework here," he added.

Hague: Labour have learnt nothing from their mistakes

William Hague said Labour have "learnt nothing from their mistakes" as he helped launch a scathing attack on the party ahead of May's election.

'It is in their DNA,' Leader of the Commons William Hague said. Credit: Pool

"They are committed from the start to more wasteful spending, more borrowing and higher taxes," the Leader of the Commons said.

"It is in their DNA," Hague added.

Osborne: Conservative economic plan 'is working'

George Osborne has said the Conservatives' economic plan "is working" as he launched an attack on Labour's "unfunded" spending plans.

Sajid Javid, Nicky Morgan, George Osborne, Theresa May and William Hague. Credit: Pool

"Don't put our recovery at risk at a time when there are so many warning lights flashing in the global economy," the Chancellor urged.

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