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Blair donates more than £100,000 to Labour candidates

Tony Blair has donated more than £100,000 to help Labour win key battleground seats at the General Election.

The former prime minister has made a donation of £1,000 to the local campaigns in 106 target constituencies, saying they were "where the election will be won for Labour".

Former Labour leader Tony Blair. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/Geisler-Fotopres/DPA

A Labour spokesman said the party was "delighted" that Blair had put his own money behind the effort to get Ed Miliband into Downing Street.

"Good luck and here's to a Labour victory on May 7," he wrote in a letter to the candidates.

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PM challenges Labour to rule out 'grubby' SNP deal

David Cameron has challenged Labour to rule out a "grubby" coalition deal with the Scottish National Party to protect Britain's nuclear deterrent.

David Cameron speaking in the Commons today. Credit: ITV News

Last month, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told ITV News that Labour would have to agree to scrap the Trident nuclear programme in any potential coalition deal between the two parties after May's election.

Responding to a question from former defence secretary Liam Fox, the Prime Minister said he would never get involved in any coalition deal to remove Trident ahead of its planned renewal in the next parliament.

He said it was "concerning that almost three-quarters of Labour candidates oppose renewal of trident".

"Now is the time for Labour to rule out any agreement with the SNP because no-one wants to see some grubby deal between the people who want to break up the United Kingdom and the people who want to bankrupt the United Kingdom," Mr Cameron told MPs.

Tuition fee cuts would come into force next September

Ed Miliband has said a £3,000 cut to university tuition fees would come into force in September 2016 if Labour are elected.

He told supporters it would will benefit not only those starting degree courses next year, but "those already at university" and slash an average of around £9,000 off each student's debt.

Mr Miliband also said that maintenance grants will be raised by £400 a year, and that Labour is "determined" to help students with their living costs.

Miliband pledges to cut university tuition fees to £6,000

Labour leader Ed Miliband. Credit: pool

Ed Miliband has pledged to cut university tuition fees from £9,00 a year to £6,000.

The Labour leader said if the party were voted in at the General Election they would make life better for young people.

He also pledged to offer:

  • 25 hours of free childcare for every child aged three and four
  • Lower class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds to 30 or under
  • Guaranteed apprenticeships for teenagers if they get the grades at 18

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Labour defends relationship with tax claims firm

Labour reported receiving almost £400,000 worth of staffing time in three months from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) - the accountancy firm recently accused of promoting "tax avoidance on an industrial scale".

A list of top 'donors' to Labour during the final quarter of 2014. Credit: Electoral Commission

The support relates to the secondment of PwC staff into the offices of the party's frontbenchers - a practice which also took place during the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats' time in opposition prior to the last general election.

The party's MP Margaret Hodge, also chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that investigated the company over allegedly aiding tax avoidance, said at the time that such relationships were "inappropriate".

Ed Miliband has recently launched a major campaign against tax avoidance, and pledged a review of how HMRC investigates such claims.

However, his party defended its relationship with PwC in a statement.

Given the complexity of government decisions in areas such as tax policy - and that opposition parties do not have significant access to civil servants - the support provided by organisations such as these helps ensure that there is better scrutiny of Government policy.

– Labour Party statement

Tories beat Labour in latest pre-election funding round

Political parties are attempting to build funding ahead of the election. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive

The Conservatives reported over £1 million more in donations than Labour in the last three months of 2014, new figures show.

As the parties attempt to build up their election war chests, the Conservatives reported receiving £8.35 million between October and December, while Labour reported £7.16 million.

Over the same period, the Liberal Democrats reported £3.03 million, Ukip £1.5 million and the Green Party just under £250,000.

The £20.33 million in total donations reported by political parties was more than £5 million higher than the previous three-month period.

It is also above the £17.4 million recorded in the final quarter of 2009 - the equivalent period ahead of the 2010 general election.

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