Live Blog

nigel farage
April 25, 2015, 4:41pm

The Conservatives are on course to take the Ukip-held seat in Rochester and Strood, according to the latest Lord Ashcroft poll.

The Tories would take the seat by 37 per cent to Ukip’s 30 per cent according to the survey, which had Labour in third on 25 per cent and the Lib Dems (3 per cent) behind the Greens, who had four per cent.

Ashcroft pointed out that in a poll before the by-election last year – which Ukip won – 36 per cent of those polled said they would most likely vote Conservative at the General Election. This suggests that the electorate may view the two votes as discrete events – good news for David Cameron.

Ashcroft’s report also looked at other battleground seats, including Bristol West, a seat the Green Party is strongly targeting. Many Liberal Democrat supporters seem to be defecting to the Greens, which has handed Labour the lead.

In the battle between football managers, Jose Mourinho came out on top
April 25, 2015, 2:50pm

Lewis Hamilton is the UK’s richest sportsman, according to the Sunday Times’s rich list.

The list, which will be published in full tomorrow, reveals that Hamilton is worth £88m, with his wealth increasing by a massive 29.4 per cent from £68m. That means the Formula One world champion is now £4m better off the Wayne Rooney in second place and £18m ahead of former teammate Jenson Button.

Hamilton wasn’t the biggest riser however, that honour went to Rory Mcllroy, the highest-ranked player in professional golf. Mcllroy saw his wealth balloon from £28 - £38m – a rise of £35.7 per cent. The biggest absolute rise in the sporting top 10 did belong to Hamilton, however.

Hamilton’s bumper new contract has helped his rise: he is apparently earning £27m a year to race for Mercedes. Rooney, in second place, is also well-paid: his £300,000-a-week salary translating to around £15.6m annually.

Andy Murray is another superstar on the list: the British no.1 tennis player has the fifth-highest career earnings of any tennis player in history, and recently signed to endorse Under Armour and Standard life in lucrative deals.

In the battle between football managers, Jose Mourinho came out on top, both on and off the pitch: the Chelsea manager is worth an estimated £40m compared to Arsene Wenger’s £38m. 

April 25, 2015, 12:40pm

Central London will be more chaotic than usual tomorrow as more than 35,000 runners descend on the capital to take part in the 35th London Marathon.

Among those taking part tomorrow will be elites such as defending men's champion Wilson Kipsang and world record holder Dennis Kimetto, as well as the “Fantastic Four” in the women's elite race, including last year's winner Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat and previous winners Mary Keitany and Priscah Jeptoo.
This edition will also be the last for Paula Radcliffe - the British distance running star is running her last race, at the venue where she set her colossal world record of 2:15:25 back in 2003.

What time will it start?

The first race to set off is the elite wheelchair race at 9am. Then the ambulant athletes take off from the blue start at 9:05am. 
Elite women will begin at 9:20m, while elite men will start at 10:10am, along with the mass start.

Trust me, it'll be busy (Source: Getty)

The weather

The forecast for Sunday is just out and while it might be shaping up for a bad day for spectators, runners should be happy. 

After our "mini heatwave" of the last week, Saturday and Sunday are looking distinctly cooler - around 8 degrees at 10am, when the mass runners set off, rising to 11 degrees throughout the afternoon. Factoring in the wind, the Met Office says it should feel a degree or two cooler than that. 

There is also a 60 per cent chance of rain, though it seems likely the day will be cloudy with light rain, rather than a total wash out. 


(Source: Giphy)

The route

The London Marathon is 26.2 miles of tourist heaven (plus some other places).
Admittedly things start slow. The kick off is at Blackheath and runners will snake out around Charlton before passing the Cutty Sark and heading back towards Bermondsey.
The athletes cross Tower Bridge shortly before the half-way point and then head out towards the Docklands, and Canary Wharf and One Canada Square. Runners back on themselves to go past Tower Bridge and the Tower of London at mile 22.

Then runners head along the riverside, past the City, down the Blackfriars underpass and along the Victoria Embankment towards the Houses of Parliament for another three miles.
At mile 26 the runners will reach Birdcage Walk – Buckingham Palace will come into view, as will the finish line. Runners just have to get to the other end of The Mall and the endurance race is over.

But so worthwhile (Source: Getty)

Where is the best place to watch?

If you want to see the runners looking more spritely than sweaty, you should plump for a viewing spot in the first six miles. These are likely to be less busy than some of the points towards the end of the route so you should get a good position.
TfL is advising non-runners not to travel to the start line but there are plenty of other places along the first third of the race you can head to instead.
Mile six/seven (Trafalfar Road/Creek Road) will include views of the Cutty Sark, while crowds are generally quite thin at mile nine (Docklands).
Tower Bridge, where the race passes twice, is easily one of the busiest parts of the route – but also one of the most atmospheric – and you have two chances to see your friends/family/celebrity runners go past. There are also plenty of good pubs nearby.
All along Victoria Embankment is also fun to view – being near to the river there are naturally plenty of pubs and other sights to keep you occupied after you've waved on your 34,999th runner.
But of course if you want to spur people on to keep going at the finish line, you need to get to the Mall (just get there early, because you won't be the only one).

(Source: Giphy)


Where are the best pubs on the route?

Nearby British Oak is also popular, offering real ale and Sunday roasts.
Then there's The Princess of Wales, which also offers real ale, speciality beers and ciders as well as Sunday roasts.
If you're heading towards the Cutty Sark, there's the nearby Admiral Hardy or the Greenwich Tavern slightly back towards the park. There is also the Mitre Hotel, which boasts a “rousing” Bloody Mary among its drinks line up as well as good food.
Tower Bridge
You might find the pubs at this section too busy to even make it to the bar, but why let that stop you trying.
There's the Draft House on the run up to the bridge, which serves good beer and burgers, or the Perkin Reveller on the other side of the river. Away from the route there is Turner's Old Star – which was once actually owned by the artist – and the 16th century riverside pub the Prospect of Whitby.

If you're going to watch, Tower Bridge is probably the buzziest part of the route (Source: Getty)

Canary Wharf
Heading towards Canary Wharf is Thameside gastropub The Narrow (Limehouse) and 16th century pub The Grapes, while there is the Cat and Canary by Poplar. If all that running is making you hungry you could try Boisdale of Canary Wharf. Heading back towards central London the route will go past Wapping, where the Town of Ramsgate could be a good riverside option.
Victoria Embankment
There are plenty of pubs along the final few miles along the river or just set back, including The Blackfriar, The Banker, The Old Bell, Ye Old Cock Tavern, The Lyceum, and of course Gordon's Wine Bar.
The Finish Line
If your runner can manage a little further, The Phoenix offers a seasonal menu to refuel and a celebratory glass of champagne. Meanwhile there is Grade II listed pub St Stephens on Parliament Square or the Bag O'Nails close to the finish line.

paula radcliffe
April 25, 2015, 11:55am

The world’s best long distance runners will take to the capital’s streets tomorrow to compete in the London marathon, yet much of the nation’s attention will be focused not on the elite field, but in the masses of club athletes and in particular one 41-year-old who has recently been struggling with an achilles injury.

More on this story: Here's everything you need to know about the marathon - including tips, weather forecast and elite runners

Paula Radcliffe is running in her final London Marathon on Sunday, the race in which she set a world record time of 2:15:25 some 12 years ago.

Organisers are pushing the #thankyoupaula hashtag, while tributes are sure to sound out from the crowds lining the Mall on Sunday morning for the athlete whose records have not only been unmatched, but exist in a category of their own.

As demonstrated in our graphic below displaying the 2,500 fastest times in women’s marathon history, no one has even got near Radcliffe’s 2003 record in London nor at any other marathon. Neither has Radcliffe’s woman-only race record of 2:17:42 set in London in 2005 been in any danger of being trumped. On desktop, you can hover over any dot to see who ran that time, when, and where. Click on the prompts to highlight times run in London, or Paula's times.


All data from, updated 19 April 2015.

The three fastest times in marathon history all belong to the British Olympian and are more than three minutes ahead of the next nearest time - Kenya’s Mary Keitany is next with a time of 2:18:37.

Only four other women have ever run under two hours and 20 minutes in London, and it has been done just 20 times in any marathon in the 12 years since Radcliffe sailed past the mark by almost five minutes.

In 2003, at age 29, Radcliffe set the marathon world record, a stellar year in which she also won gold in the Commonwealth Games 5,000m, European Championships 10,000m and the World Cross Country Championships.

So dominant are her best times that her personal best is around 3.5 minutes faster than that of Rita Jeptoo, the best marathon runner in the world last year, who tested positive last December for the blood-boosting drug erythropoietin (EPO).

EPO was made famous by its abuse in cycling and has been found to boost normal cyclists’ stamina (time to exhaustion) by up to 54 per cent in lab trials, although effects on elite athletes are likely to be less dramatic.

Another measure of her dominance is the margin of victory: her best time is 2.36 per cent better than Keitany's, the second-placed woman. On the men’s all-time list, the fastest man, Dennis Kimetto, has a time 0.06 per cent better than his nearest rival. The man in tenth, Haile Gebrselassie, has a time 0.8 per cent slower than Kimetto’s. You have to go down to 105th place before Kimetto has a gap greater than that between Radcliffe and the second fastest woman.
Radcliffe doesn’t appear on our graph since finishing third in Berlin in 2011, having been dogged by a foot injury that has seen her miss out on the last two events in London.

For the time being, Radcliffe’s record looks pretty safe. Yet she herself believes the record won’t last forever. She told British Athletics: “It will be beaten at some point, that’s the nature of the sport. I don’t believe I have any more talent than anyone else.”

Yet even if and when it is, Radcliffe’s phenomenal achievements are guaranteed to loom large over the London Marathon for a long time to come.


Wilson Kipsang
April 25, 2015, 11:49am

The London Marathon is a special event on the 26-mile racing calendar, and not just because of the iconic city the route takes in.

It is also the best place to run a fast time, according to the data, with more of the fastest 2,500 men’s and 2,500 women’s times being run here than any other city.

For women, almost 10 per cent of those times (249) were run in London, while for the men the figure is a still impressive 198 (7.9 per cent).

Second placed for men is Osaka, while for women it is Rotterdam. Of the 19 venues on both lists, 11 appear twice. Notably Osaka (2nd for men) doesn’t appear on the women’s list at all.

So why is London fast? The course avoids the big hills, as seen in places like Boston, and the blistering heat of other venues, or the wind often found in Chicago. It isn’t perfect (we all know English weather), but it seems to have become the goldilocks course for both men and women, where the conditions are most likely to be just right.

If you’re reading this on desktop you can explore the data using the interactive below, which also shows Paula Radcliffe’s times. Hover over any dot to see who ran that time, when, and where. Click on the prompts to highlight times run in London, or Paula's times.


All data from, updated 19 April 2015.

London Marathon
April 25, 2015, 9:44am
Running the London Marathon tomorrow? Then it's time to start tapering your long runs and planning your carb-loading evening meal. 
The gruelling 26.2m race, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary, will take place tomorrow - Sunday 26 April.. 
Runners will go past some of London's most iconic landmarks as they snake around the capital, starting at Greenwich and heading to the Cutty Sark by around mile six; reaching Tower Bridge and the Tower of London by mile 12; passing the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben at mile 25 before reaching The Mall and completing the race in front of Buckingham Palace. 
With one day to go until the big day, here's what you need to know if you are running the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon.

1. What should I already know?

All UK runners should have received their final instruction packs by now, which shows your running number and includes your registration form – if you haven't got this, you need to call the helpdesk (0207 902 0200). 

2. What happens on the run up to the race?

You must take your registration form, along with photo ID, to register at the London Marathon exhibition at London ExCel, which is open Wednesday (11am-8pm), Thursday and Friday (10am to 8pm) and Saturday (today) between 9am tand 5pm. This is where you will get your race number.  
While you're there you can spend some time looking around the expo – there is advice on how to get through the race in one piece, and loads of health and fitness products to help spur you on, as well as motivational talks from some previous competitors, stands selling technical clothing, magazines and charities. You could even treat yourself to a sports massage (but be warned, sports massage is not the relaxing experience you tend to associate with the word “massage”).

3. How hot is it going to be?

The forecast for Sunday is out and while it might be shaping up for a bad day for spectators, runners should be happy. After our "mini heatwave" of the last week, Saturday and Sunday are looking distinctly cooler - around 8 degrees at 10am, when the mass runners set off, rising to 11 degrees throughout the afternoon.
Factoring in the wind, the Met Office says it should feel a degree or two cooler than that. 
There is also a 60 per cent chance of rain, though it seems likely the day will be cloudy with light rain, rather than being a total wash out. 

The 26.2 mile route snakes around some of London's best sights (Source: Getty)


4. How do I get there?

TfL/Network Rail wouldn't want to make it too easy for you. This year there are no trains from London Bridge to the blue start line at Blackheath, so you need to go from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or Victoria. 
Good news for runners: travel is free once you present your number, but only between Charing Cross, Waterloo East, Cannon Street, London Bridge and Victoria and Greenwich, Maze Hill or Blackheath.
Trains are going to be very busy, so non-runners are encouraged not to travel to the start line. 

4. What should I do on the day?

Hopefully you'll be feeling raring to go after your double helping of pasta the night before. Before you leave home, make sure you have your running number and some safety pins, have your kitbag with your running number printed on so you can find it at the other end, and whatever you do don't forget your sports tag and wires, otherwise you won't find out your time. 
Once you get to the other end it's going to be hugely crowded, your phone may well have died on the route and you're unlikely to get any reception anyway, so pre-plan a place to meet your friends and family. 
Do take gels, water and so on if that's what you're used to – but don't introduce new features to your routine on the day. Race organisers warn that hydration is a “fine balance”, so don't “aggressively over-hydrate”. 
Likewise, don't introduce new running gear – t-shirts, trainers etc – on the day. If you haven't done it before, don't do it. 

Soooo close to the end now guys (Source: Getty)


5. When does it all kick off?

For those of us not running this year, BBC coverage starts at 8:30am. There'll be the mini marathon at Old Billingsgate at 8:40am. 
The first race to set off is the elite wheelchair race at 9am. Then the ambulant athletes take off from the blue start at 9:05am. 
Elite women will begin at 9:20m, while elite men will start at 10:10am, along with the mass start.

6. Who am I up against?

I like your competitive spirit. This year the male elites include defending champion Wilson Kipsang and fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto, the man who made history last year when he broke Kipsang’s world record to become the first man ever to run 26.2 miles in less than two hours three minutes.
Kimetto, who ran the Berlin Marathon in 2:02:57 last September is making his London Marathon debut, while Kipsang is running for the fourth time having won in 2012 and 2014.  The top 10 male runners all have personal bests of  under 2:05:30.
Among the women is defending champion Edna Kiplagat and half marathon record holder Florence Kiplagat. Mary Keitany, who won in 2011 and 2012, and the 2013 winner Priscah Jeptoo round off what is being dubbed the "Fantastic Four". The top 10 women have run the distance no slower than 2:25. 

7. How bad is it going to be? 

That'll depend on you and your fitness level, but most people would say "pretty bad". 

(Source: Giphy)

Still at least you won't have to keep answering that annoying question any more. 

(Source: Giphy)


8. What about afterwards?

Depending on how you feel, a pint and a pie will probably be in order. But you might want to book because it's going to be pretty busy.... 

Wilson Kipsang as he crossed the finish line last year. This year, you'll be in front. (Source: Getty)
Tories is masks
April 25, 2015, 9:19am

 If the SNP wants Ed Miliband in power so it can gain influence over a minority Labour government, then it’s going a funny way about it.

Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said that her party would expect to enjoy “enormous influence” over a Labour government, in words set to scare the English electorate. 

Sturgeon made the remarks during an interview with The Times, and the comments will almost certainly be used as ammunition by the Conservatives, who are seeking to paint a picture of a possible Labour government backed by SNP puppeteers.

Sturgeon also said the extra attention gleaned as a by-product of the Tory-Labour duel helped the SNP with one of its biggest challenges.

At every Westminster election I’ve fought until this one, the biggest challenge that we’ve had to overcome is being heard and being relevant. We don’t have this problem this time. The message it’s given to people in Scotland is — if this is the attention we get just from the SNP riding high in the polls, imagine how loud our voice would be if that was translated into seats. So in that respect I absolutely think it is not unhelpful.

The SNP is expected to expand its influence in Scotland, taking many new seats at Labour’s expense.

April 24, 2015, 5:54pm

It's not just a slog for runners around the London Marathon route this weekend.

Anyone angling to jump on the London property ladder or looking to climb it faces a steep ascent with plenty of pain, arguably tougher than a 26 mile run around the capital - emotionally and psychologically at least.

Runner's eyes won't just be watering from exhaustion when they approach the finish line in St James's. The central London location, home to the Queen, boasts the most expensive property of the entire route at more than £2m for the average place.

Along the entire route which runs from Blackheath in south east London (a no less eye-watering half-a-million pound for the average property) to the Mall, the average price stands at just over £670,000. That's an increase on last year of four per cent, or £27,000 in cash terms.

The rise in prices is likely to leave marathon runners gasping for breath (boom-tish).

While Charlton, an early part of the route at mile two, is one of the more bargain-filled areas at £382,108, it has experienced the largest growth of anywhere along the marathon route, with prices up 7.4 per cent on last year.

Check out the London property marathon in the graphic below and how prices have changed since last year, based on data from

April 24, 2015, 5:07pm

Shares in HSBC closed more than three per cent up at 631.4p after the bank revealed it is investigating the possibility of leaving the UK.

Chairman Douglas Flint said this morning that, spooked by a tighter regulatory environment, HSBC's board has launched a review into moving its headquarters out of the UK.

More on this story: Five charts showing why HSBC might actually mean it this time

In a speech at its annual general meeting (AGM) in Westminster today, Flint added: "It is essential that we position HSBC in the best way to support the markets and customer bases critical to our future success."

"In this regard, we also have to take fully into account the repositioning of our industry being driven by the regulatory and structural reforms which have been put in place post crisis... We are beginning to see the final shape of regulation and of structural reform, including the requirement to ring fence in the UK.

"As part of the broader strategic review taking place, the board has therefore now asked management to commence work to look at where the best place is for HSBC to be heaquartered in this new environment. The question is a complex one and it is too soon to say how long this will take or what the conclusion will be; but the word is underway"

Although Hong Kong has been mooted as the new location for its headquarters, IG senior market analyst Chris Beauchamp suggested making the move might be easier said than done. 

Given the titanic size of its balance sheet there are few economies that could bear the load. Instead the bank is merely opening the batting on further discussions regarding the UK’s bank levy, with the threat to up sticks a means of applying somewhat unsubtle pressure on the British government.

The bank has also complained about ring-fencing rules. Under new measures due to be set out by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), banks are likely to be told to separate their "core" retail and business banking arms from their corporate and investment divisions by the beginning of 2019.

In March, HSBC announced plans to headquarter its ring-fenced bank in Birmingham, with 1,000 head office roles due to be moved from its Canary Wharf offices.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver has been a vocal critic of ring-fencing, saying in August last year they will cost HSBC "hundreds of millions of pounds" a year. 

The bank also criticised increasingly tight regulations, saying staff were under "unprecedented pressure", and that it spends between $750m (£495m) and $800m a year on its compliance and risk programme, an increase of $150m-$250m on the year before. 

Any departure by the bank would be a huge loss to the UK. With a value of £120bn, HSBC is the FTSE 100's largest company by market cap, employing 47,500 people in the UK. 

However, the regulatory environment looks set to get even tougher for UK banks after the election. While the Conservatives have vowed to push ahead with a bank levy, which is due to raise £3bn next year, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have both pushed to raise it even higher.

HSBC has itself been heavily scrutinised in recent months, with Gulliver called to answer questions - including some on his own tax affairs - from MPs on both the Public Accounts Committee and the Treasury Select Committee after its Swiss private banking arm was accused of helping thousands of customers evade tax.

At the time, Gulliver was urged to resign by those questioning him. 

"How can I as an HSBC client have confidence in someone like you?" asked Public Accounts Committee chair and Labour politician Margaret Hodge. 

April 24, 2015, 5:00pm
It was the week which began with the transformation of the Labour leader into an idol (stop cringing at the back, please) and ended with HSBC threatening to leave these fair shores (again)....

Here’s what got us talking this week

1. Election

The election campaign trudges on wearily, with a little under two weeks until the big day. There was a little light relief this week, when the Milifan club went head-to-head with the Cameronettes. Then Grant Shapps was alleged to have edited his rivals’ Wikipedia pages to make them look worse. Busted. 
Still: we’ve tried to make it interesting. We’ve got a detailed look at how each party wants to solve the housing crisis here - plus, we’ve ranked all UK’s MPs by how good they are on social media

2. Tesco

Tesco’s first quarter this week were worse than most analysts had feared - but in the event, it seems shareholders had been expecting something along those lines, because the supermarket’s share price spend the day yo-yoing (and here’s why it did).
Never one to overstate things, new chief exec Dave Lewis said he was “not happy at all” with the massive loss it posted. Check out his sad face here

3. The Hound of Hounslow

Depending on who you listen to, he’s either an international criminal mastermind who caused the Nasdaq’s biggest-ever one-day drop or a quiet bloke from West London who was in the wrong place at the wrong time (that's what his former employer reckons, anyway). Either way, day trader Navinder Singh Sarao is in a lot of trouble.
Until this week, most of us had forgotten about the flash crash of 2010 - here’s an explanation of how it happened - and here’s how much the whistleblower who informed on him stands to make

4. The Apple watch has landed

The hallowed day has arrived: the Apple Watch has hit the shops. Or the postboxes. Or whatever it's supposed to have done. While many are hanging back to see whether it makes an impact, app developers have already been hard at work - even though they haven’t had a prototype to work with. Check out our rundown of the best apps so far.

5. More bank drama

At £1.7bn, the fine handed out to Deutsche Bank by US and UK regulators was the largest ever in the rate-fixing scandal (and a huge amount more than the €1.5bn - about £1bn - it set aside for the penalty). As has become the tradition in these sorts of cases, the regulator published some of the “banter” that took place between rate-fixing traders. Warning: you’re going to cringe.
Meanwhile, HSBC has had enough of this regulatory huffing and puffing: it announced it’s investigating whether or not to head off into the sunset. Admittedly, it’s made this threat a few times before - but here are five charts that show why it might actually mean it this time

Leisurely reads

It’s London Marathon weekend, which means the world’s greatest runners are heading to the capital. As Paula Radcliffe makes her last appearance, we’ve looked at her most impressive performances. Take a look here
Seven months into the job, is Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis the right man to lead a turnaround? Despite this week’s car crash results, the City is impressed
And as polling day approaches, there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on in business. But what about the rest of us? Should we be worried? We take a deep breath and try to decide…. 

From elsewhere

Transport for London boss Sir Peter Hendy clearly isn’t one to mince his words: in an interview with Management Today magazine, he likens London’s train network to the Wild West. “They are s**t, awful,” he says. “And then every now and then some people who look like the Gestapo get on and fine everyone they can. It doesn't improve your day, does it?”. Well, quite… 
As Greece approaches yet another deadline to come up with reforms its lenders approve of, Yanis Varoufakis, its finance minister, takes to his blog to explain why the country’s leaders are resisting their demands. But he’s also optimistic: “The current disagreements with our partners are not unbridgeable,” he says.
What would it feel like if you were on a rollecoaster shaped like Nasdaq’s share price chart since 1994? The Wall Street Journal has provided an answer to a question almost no one has ever asked. Nevertheless - it’s pretty entertaining. 

The last word