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Highs and lows of the TV debate

Published 02/04/2015

Host Julie Etchingham, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the televised debate (ITV/REX)
Host Julie Etchingham, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, Ukip leader Nigel Farage, Labour leader Ed Miliband, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the televised debate (ITV/REX)

Here are some of the high and low points for the seven party leaders during the live TV debate:

Nick Clegg

High: The Lib Dem leader wasted no time in distancing himself from his coalition partner, David Cameron, by starting the debate with an attack on the Tories' tax plans. He told the audience: "Remarkably, the Conservative Party have said they are not going to ask the richest in the society to make a single extra penny of contribution to balancing the books through the tax system."

Low: During a 2010 debate the phrase "I agree with Nick" became popular with Gordon Brown. But Mr Clegg's policies were not as popular tonight and he did not appear to have any friends among the other leaders.

Leanne Wood

High: The Plaid Cymru leader delivered a killer blow to Nigel Farage, chiding him "You ought to be ashamed of yourself" when he complained about foreigners with HIV receiving free treatment on the NHS. She warned him that his comments were "dangerous" and "dividing communities", earning her the first round of a applause from the audience.

Low: Pollsters ComRes ITV News had just 2% believing Ms Wood was the best performer in the two-hour debate.

Nigel Farage

High: The Ukip leader earned a chuckle from the studio audience when he rounded on Mr Cameron after he claimed Britain should renegotiate with the EU. Mr Farage said: "Mrs (Angela) Merkel, who is the real boss in Europe as we all know, has made it perfectly clear we can negotiate lots of things over the next couple of years but we cannot renegotiate the free movement of people."

Low: He was the first to lose his temper while the leaders discussed the deficit. As they argued over how to "balance the books" he turned red, threw his arms up by his head and cried: "What's going on here? Can we get real please?"

David Cameron

High: He told the audience to be fearful of the NHS under Labour, warning them: "There's only one group of politicians anywhere in this United Kingdom who have cut the NHS in the last five years and that was the Labour Party in Wales. So when you hear Ed Miliband's promises, think about that."

Low: The Tory leader was challenged by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett over why Britain has not taken more Syrian refugees - an issue on which the Prime Minister has faced strong criticism in the past. She told him: "The UN has asked us very loudly and clearly to take our share of the most vulnerable."

Nicola Sturgeon

High: When she claimed there is nothing Nigel Farage would not blame on foreigners, the Ukip leader's expression suggested she might have a point.

Low: No obvious lows. She was the best performer according to a YouGov poll, so perhaps she will be disappointed if she reflects that there could have been a victory for the Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum if she had become SNP leader earlier.

Ed Miliband

High: Ed Miliband smirked and laughed his way through Cameron's argument on the EU - telling him: "David, I'm wondering what world you live in." The Prime Minister responded with a meek "What?" before Miliband blasted him for his weak negotiating in Europe and criticised him for "marginalising" the UK.

Low: The Labour leader suffered a clear defeat when the debate turned to zero-hour contracts and David Cameron pointed out that "about 70 Labour MPs employ people on zero-hour contracts". To cheers and applause, he sneered at Labour for "not getting to the part that they practise what they preach".

Natalie Bennett

High: The Green Party leader did not appear to suffer a recurrence of the 'brain fade'' which blighted her famous ''excruciating'' radio interview on LBC Radio.

Low: She was cut off as she got to her key message in declaring "we have to stop trashing our planet" in answer to a question about whether Britain's young people have an optimistic future.

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