Election 2010 Lookahead: Saturday 10 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

Yes, we know it's Saturday. With 26 days (including weekends) to go, here's what's happening today:

Labour

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Yvette Cooper, the Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, will co-host a London press conference this morning to highlight the "'Conservative threat to frontline public services". This is the latest counter-attack by Labour following Tory promises of £6bn worth of efficiency savings.

Conservatives

The Conservative Party's announcement on tax breaks for married couples is likely to dominate the day - even if David Cameron thinks he's visiting a south London hospital to talk health.

Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, is in Yorkshire and the north-east today. He'll be joined by his wife -- Miriam González Durántez -- for a walkabout in his own Sheffield Hallam constituency (9.30am) before heading to Gateshead (4pm) for a town hall meeting.

Other parties

The British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, will be campaigning in the Barking constituency he hopes to wrestle away from Labour's Margaret Hodge. In 2005, the BNP won 16 per cent of the vote in Barking but Hodge looks pretty secure, having secured nearly half of all the votes last time around.

The media

The Ukip leader Lord Pearson goes up against Andrew Neil on the BBC News Channel's Straight Talk (10.30pm). Ukip is fielding 500 candidates at this election, most notably the former leader Nigel Farage, who is up against the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, in Buckingham.

Away from the campaign

It's the 163rd Grand National at Aintree. The race -- featuring 40 runners over the four-mile, four-furlong (7.2km) course in front of 70,000 spectators -- gets under way at 4.15pm.

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What does François Bayrou's endorsement of Emmanuel Macron mean for the French presidential race?

The support of the perennial candidate for President will boost Macron's morale but won't transform his electoral standing. 

François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement and a candidate for the French presidency in 2007 and 2012, has endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s bid for the presidency.

What does it mean for the presidential race?  Under the rules of the French electoral system, if no candidate secures more than half the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off.

Since 2013, Marine Le Pen has consistently led in the first round before going down to defeat in the second, regardless of the identity of her opponents, according to the polls.

However, national crises – such as terror attacks or the recent riots following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man, who was sodomised with a police baton – do result in a boost for Le Pen’s standing, as does the ongoing “Penelopegate” scandal about the finances of the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.

Macron performs the most strongly of any candidate in the second round but struggles to make it into the top two in the first. Having eked out a clear lead in second place ahead of Fillon in the wake of Penelopegate, Macron’s lead has fallen back in recent polls after he said that France’s rule in Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Although polls show that the lion’s share of Bayrou’s supporters flow to Macron without his presence in the race, with the rest going to Fillon and Le Pen, Macron’s standing has remained unchanged regardless of whether or not Bayrou is in the race or not. So as far as the electoral battlefield is concerned, Bayrou’s decision is not a gamechanger.

But the institutional support of the Democratic Movement will add to the ability of Macron’s new party, En Marche, to get its voters to the polls on election day, though the Democratic Movement has never won a vast number of deputies or regional elections. It will further add to the good news for Macron following a successful visit to London this week, and, his supporters will hope, will transform the mood music around his campaign.

But hopes that a similar pact between Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate, and Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front’s candidate, look increasingly slim, after Mélenchon said that joining up with the Socialists would be like “hanging himself to a hearse”. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.