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Aidan Burley, the Tory MP who bought a Nazi uniform for a friend to wear at a stag party, is presumably relieved by the conclusions of a report by Lord Gold, a Tory peer who was asked by the party to look into the affair. He concluded Mr Burley “is not a bad man, still less a racist or an anti-Semite” but he is stupid.

Ashcroft gave Tories a further £123,464 donation, figures reveal

New figures released by the election watchdog show the Conservatives accepted £123,464 from Lord Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the party, who is spearheading the battle for the key marginal seats.

Matthew Norman: Will Blinky consign Labour to history?

If Ed Balls has a political philosophy, it is the domineering, top-down, we-know-best infantilising statism of Gordon himself

Gordon Brown urged to apologise over election leaflet 'lies'

Tory frontbencher Michael Gove today called on the Prime Minister to rebuke Labour MPs and ministers who had spread "fear and smears" about Conservative policies in their election leaflets.

The Sketch: The biggest laugh? Well it's the way Gordon tells them

But first the hair. Nick's was the youngest, tousled as from afternoon sex. Young people will like that, and it helps project his policy on Europe. Cameron's hair hadn't set properly, there was a bold sweep at the front but then it went flat the further into it you went. I wonder if that means anything. And Gordon's! The poor fellow, his hair is only going in one direction. Soon he'll have fulfilled Blair's promise of being "whiter than white". He should prepare for the next debate with 36 holes in the Bahamas. That advice is so good I may send him a bill (he'll have a spare £100m for emergencies if I know him).

Matthew Norman: Come on Dave, don't be chicken

This wondrously unpredictable election campaign has its first incontestable winner. I refer to the Daily Mirror and its deployment of the young man who puts David Schilling's more outré Ladies' Day titfers in the shade by following David Cameron while wearing a fluffy chicken head as a hat. Before we go on, some good news. The tripartite Vulcan mind meld conjoining Ed Balls, Charlie Whelan and Mirror political supremo Kevin Maguire into the one mental entity is holding. That resolved, back to the chicken. What most impresses about using poultry to highlight alleged cowardice is the originality. Pedants might point out that the tactic has been tried before, but who remembers the Tories doing it to Mr Tony Blair in 1997? The record book shows how spiffingly that panned out, so small wonder Mr Whelan-Balls-Maguire hunted out such an encouraging precedent. If the chicken provided Mr Cameron with one of his better moments, when on Tuesday he joshed with it in as endearing a fashion as tightly gritted teeth allowed, that's not how the Mirror chose to report it on yesterday's front page. But it is excused the confusion on a news day so frantic that only one tiny paragraph could be spared to gloss over Labour's abysmal showing in every poll published the previous evening. The key thing when facing brutal humiliation, the Mirror reminds us, is retaining professional self-respect. This enables a newspaper to bounce back quickly, live long and prosper.

Tory boys bait their hook for Charlie Whelan

Unite's political director has set his lawyers on The Spectator – so they have turned him into their cover star. Ian Burrell reports

Debate Sketch: Did you hear Mandelson praising Clegg?

There was a slight sense of sulphur in the air in the Manchester media room; surely the Iceland volcano couldn't have got here so quickly? No, it was Peter Mandelson gliding into the hall.

Labour: Demands of the campaign will force Brown to loosen his grip

He fought the last three elections from his bunker at party HQ. But this time, he'll be on the road – and the team effort will be critical, argues Steve Richards

Simon Carr: Just another dark day in a very gloomy year for Hoon and Hewitt

Sketch: We are just in the foothills of shame, really. Onwards and upwards!

Unite 'optimistic' as BA talks continue

British Airways management and unions were holding emergency talks last night to avert a potentially crippling strike by cabin crew starting tomorrow.

Steve Richards: Unite doesn't run Labour – it can't even run itself

If we want parties less dependent on outside funding we should pay them with state cash

Andy McSmith: The reality of Unite could not be further from Tory myths

"Your party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Unite union," David Cameron told Gordon Brown in a furious exchange at yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions. "They pick the candidates, choose the policies; they elect the leader; they have special access to Downing Street."

Brown urged to step in to prevent BA strike action

Gordon Brown has come under renewed pressure to intervene in the looming strike by British Airways staff which is set to disrupt the travel plans of 90,000 passengers.

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