There’s more than 30 days of campaigning to go before the general election on May 7 but that may not be the end of it – because a senior North East peer is warning a second election is possible.
He warned that if there is a stalemate once the votes are counted then there is a significant possibility of a second election this year.
Polling suggests both parties are neck and neck, with a poll by Populous giving both Labour and the Conservatives 34% of the vote while a poll for YouGov gave them both 35%.
Lord Shipley also revealed that the Liberal Democrat election manifesto will include a pledge to offer “devolution on demand” to regions that want more control over their own affairs.
And he highlighted the party’s support for continued membership of the European Union, saying: “The Lib Dems are clear Britain needs to be in Europe and the North East especially needs to be in Europe. 56% of our exports are to the EU.
“Increasing tariff barriers could put 8% on the price of a car. There would be significant job losses in the automotive supply chain if that happens.”
Conservatives were highlighting plans to help business create two million new jobs in the next parliament if they win the election on May 8.
David Cameron said: “Five years on, by working through our long-term plan, look at what we have achieved together: 1.9 million more jobs; more people in work in our country than ever before; more jobs created here than the rest of Europe combined; more people with the security of a regular pay-packet, providing for themselves and their families.”
Labour has been talking about plans to put small businesses first in line for tax cuts.
The move, which will be in Labour’s first budget, will benefit 71,000 small business properties in the North. Their business rates will be cut and then frozen the following year.
Ed Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, said: “Unleashing the potential of smaller businesses to grow, create more good jobs and raise living standards is a vital part of Labour’s better plan.
“Because when working people and British businesses succeed, Britain succeeds too.
“That’s why Labour’s first Budget will back Britain’s small firms and our struggling high streets by cutting business rates. And we will look to go further by putting small businesses first in line for future tax cuts. This is part of our plan to deliver a simpler and fairer tax system for small businesses.”
And Liberal Democrats are set to promise a better deal for dads – by tripling paternity leave.
Giving dads an extra four weeks off work with their new-borns will be part of the party’s manifesto.
Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said: “To build a fairer society, the Liberal Democrats want to tear down the barriers that stop people reaching their full potential. For too long, mums have been told their place is at home with their child, while dads return to work.
“I want parents to choose for themselves how to balance work and family.”
Labour’s Shadow International Development Secretary Mary Creagh visited a food bank in the marginal seat of Redcar, to highlight Labour’s five-point plan to reduce the reliance on food banks.
The marginal seat was won by the Liberal Democrats in 2010.
And Conservative Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles was in Berwick, which the Tories hope to take from the Lib Dems.
Conservative candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan is a veteran of campaigns in the constituency, having stood once before and managed the campaign of a previous Conservative candidate.
But she said Conservative chances are better this time because of the retirement of former MP, Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith.
She said: “He was part of the furniture and people used to vote for ‘nice Mr Beith’, so there are really interesting conversations going on with people who are considering who to vote for now.
“I’m getting between 100 and 150 e-mails a day and a big chunk of those are people who just want to know what my views are on an issue. That’s not something that happened before.”
But Sir Alan is still around – campaigning to support Lib Dem candidate Julie Pörksen.
Labour Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham insisted the public were growing to like Labour leader Ed Miliband the more they saw of him.
Along with other party leaders, Mr Miliband is to take part in a televised election debate on Thursday.
Mr Burnham told us that he believed voters had been impressed when Mr Miliband took part in a televised interview last week.
He said: “All the party members I have spoken to ... thought the same, that Ed had done himself proud, and us.
“My argument is that the London media has desperately sought to portray an image of Ed Miliband that is untrue.
“But the more the public see of him the more they will warm to him.”
You have to make sacrifices in politics. And Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls is even willing to put his health at risk by letting the weight pile on – because his wife says it helps middle-aged men relate to him.
He said he worried about a photograph which made him look fat until wife Yvette Cooper told him: “You’ve struck a chord with middle-aged men and women across the nation!”