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Leaders' TV debate: Cameron and Clegg coalition crumbles in clash that failed to produce a clear winner

By Andrew Grice

Published 03/04/2015

The leaders of seven political parties took part in the TV debate (ITV/REX)
The leaders of seven political parties took part in the TV 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)
Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron during the leaders TV debate (ITV/REX)
The line-up of political leaders on last night’s TV debate... but no Peter Robinson
Labour leader Ed Miliband
Prime Minister David Cameron
People watching the live leaders' TV debate on a big screen outside the ITV Studios at MediaCityUK in Salford Quays

The Coalition came to an acrimonious end last night as David Cameron and Nick Clegg clashed in a leaders' TV debate which gave Britain a glimpse of the multi-party future that may follow next month's General Election.

After a two-hour debate on ITV involving seven party leaders, pollsters YouGov declared Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, the victor with 28%. Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, came second on 20%, ahead of Mr Cameron on 18%. Ed Miliband was fourth on 15%, followed by Mr Clegg (10%), Natalie Bennett of the Greens (5%) and Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood (4%).

Other post-debate surveys produced a different verdict. ICM for The Guardian gave Mr Miliband a narrow win over Mr Cameron (by 25 to 24%). But ComRes for ITV News made it a three-way tie between Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband and Mr Farage.

The Tories claimed Mr Cameron was "in control" but Labour insisted he was "virtually silent" and could not defend his record.

In the only head-to-head battle of the election campaign between Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband, they clashed over the economy and the NHS as they played their favourite cards in what has been dubbed a "wealth versus health" election.

Mr Cameron seized on reports that Mr Miliband wanted to "weaponise" the NHS, but the Labour leader retorted: "I would say to everybody at home - use your vote as a weapon to fight for the future of the health service."

The Prime Minister warned that Labour would wreck the economy and told Tories who have defected to Ukip they risked letting Mr Miliband into Downing Street "by the back door". He said: "That will give you open door immigration."

 

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