Belfast Telegraph

Battle for Number 10: key points from David Cameron and Ed Miliband TV clash

David Cameron and Ed Miliband took part in the first of the general election television set pieces on Thursday night receiving a grilling from Jeremy Paxman and questions from a studio audience.

We look at the key points from the  first major TV clash of the general election campaign.

Key points from David Cameron

Said the BBC's decision to sack his friend Jeremy Clarkson was "absolutely right for them"

Admitted that he would not be able to live on the kind of exclusive zero-hours country that the coalition has outlawed.

Said the UK was "immeasurably stronger" after five years of his premiership and claimed that "we've turned the economy round".

Mr Cameron accepted that his Government had failed to meet the "no ifs no buts" pledge he made in 2010 to get net immigration down to the tens of thousands over the course of the parliament. But he said it remained "the right ambition" and insisted tougher welfare rules would squeeze arrivals from the EU.

Pressed repeatedly on whether he and Chancellor George Osborne knew where they would make £12 billion further savings from the welfare budget over the next parliament, he said: "We know it is possible. We know there will be difficult decisions and we will have to go through every part of the welfare budget."

The Prime Minister again defended his decision to announce that he would not seek a third term if re-elected in May and insisted he would serve "every day of a full second term".

Mr Cameron dismissed Ukip's demands for an immediate in/out referendum on EU membership as the price for a post-election deal as offering the public a "false choice".

On Mr Miliband, Mr Cameron said he admired his backing for the decision to send British forces to fight Isis.

Challenged on whether he should appoint a dedicated minister for the elderly, Mr Cameron pledged to think about the issue but wanted all ministers to consider the elderly.

Asked by a former police officer if he would reverse cuts to policing, the Prime Minister said more had been achieved with less.

Asked if he would allow more private provision of NHS services, Mr Cameron said: "If it's good healthcare, that's what matters to me. I love our NHS. It has done amazing things for my family. I want to make sure that is always there for families in our country. That will always be predominantly an NHS provided by NHS providers. The independent sector is a tiny proportion of the total."

Key points from Ed Miliband

Mr Miliband said his relationship with brother David was still "healing" after their bruising battle for the Labour leadership, but said he still thought he was the right man for the job.

Asked by an audience member: "You seem gloomy most of the time - are things really so bad", Miliband replied: "No, but they could be a lot better."

Mr Miliband said democratic socialism remained an important Labour value - saying it was fundamental to the question of what sort of country Britain was going to be.

He said wealth creation is an incredibly important part of building a more prosperous society and a fairer society. But he wants all levels of society to do well and not just those at the top.

He firmly defended his decision to rule out an in/out EU referendum, arguing that it was not a priority for the country and leaving would be a disaster.

He applauded Mr Cameron's successful push in the face of strong Tory opposition to legalise same-sex marriage and raise foreign aid spending to 0.7% of GDP but said he didn't think they would "have a pint" together.

He refused to put a figure on a maximum population for the country and admitted Labour "got it wrong" on immigration and on the forecasts made by the last government.

And on wider Labour mistakes, Mr Miliband said: "I think we were too relaxed about inequality, I think the gap got bigger and I think lots of people fell behind."

Mr Miliband said he was tough enough to be Prime Minister an had shown this by refusing to go along with Mr Cameron and Barack Obama's plans for military action in Syria in 2013. "Standing up to the leader of the free world, I think, shows a certain toughness," he said, denying he was a pacifist.

He insisted he did not read bad press about himself, adding: "It's water off a duck's back, honestly. I don't care what the newspapers write about me, because what I care about is what happens to the British people, and I know that this country could be so much better. That's what I came into politics for."

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