This week was dominated by the party manifestos, with the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour each setting out policy ideas and commitments for government.
Prime Minister Theresa May promised a "mainstream government that will deliver for mainstream Britain". Launching the Conservative manifesto, Mrs May said a strong economy and delivering Brexit were top priorities. The manifesto dropped the 2015 pledge not to raise income tax or National Insurance and has big changes to social care funding in England. People worth more than £100,000 would have to pay for their care - but could defer payment until after their death. The calculation for people who need care at home will take into account the value of their property. You can read our full analysis of the manifesto here.
Labour unveiled pledges costing £48.6bn - to be funded from extra tax revenue - in its election manifesto. Leader Jeremy Corbyn said the manifesto - including billions for schools and the NHS and an expansion of free childcare - was a "programme of hope". The income tax rate would rise to 45p for earnings above £80,000 and then to 50p in each pound earned over £123,000. It also includes the nationalisation of England's water companies and scrapping university tuition fees. Labour said all the pledges were costed, with other fundraising measures including corporation tax rises, a crackdown on tax avoidance and an "excessive pay levy" on salaries above £330,000. You can read our analysis of the manifesto here.
Launching his party's manifesto, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said "people not politicians" should have the final say over the terms of Brexit. He said Brexit would have an impact "for decades to come" and the public should have the right to decide whether to go ahead with it in another referendum. Leaving the EU single market was a "time bomb" which could "take down the NHS and schools" with it, he warned. He told party supporters in London that the Lib Dems would not "roll over". The Lib Dems' promise of a vote on the final Brexit deal, the centrepiece of its general election offer, would include an option to remain in the EU. And you can read our analysis of the Lib Dem manifesto here.
The leaders of five political parties took part in a live TV election debate, whilst Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn sat it out. There was little disagreement between the leaders of the Lib Dems, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP as they repeatedly clashed with UKIP's Paul Nuttall. Brexit was a dominant theme, and the panellists also turned their fire on the absent Tory and Labour leaders. Four of the five panellists - Lib Dem Tim Farron, the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas - had backed staying in the EU. Mr Nuttall - who apologised after twice calling Ms Wood "Natalie" - found himself the target of their attacks throughout, with Ms Sturgeon calling him Theresa May's "spokesman".
And finally, as the Election looms, polls indicate it will deliver a resounding Conservative victory. The Conservative benches could be set to expand by 70 or so MPs, representing an influx that will put Theresa May’s stamp on a Parliamentary Party forged under her predecessors. A possible 100+ majority changes things and requires a deeper level of understanding and engagement with the Conservative Party, and knowledge of the workings of the civil service and machinery of Government, to secure influence. To identify those candidates that will make up the expanded Parliamentary Party we have included most of the notional top 40 targets based on the percentage swing required identified by the respected UK Polling Report in our analysis of the 2017 Conservative intake, which you can read here.