Ed Miliband emerges the “winner” of the second TV debate of the General Election campaign in an instant poll conducted after the event.
In a poll of 1,013 viewers conducted by Survation for the Daily Mirror, Mr Miliband came out on top, with 35% judging him the winner, narrowly ahead of Nicola Sturgeon on 31%.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage was third on 27% followed by the Greens’ Natalie Bennett on 5% and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood on 2%.
Nigel Farage turns on the audience at the Opposition Leaders’ Debate, saying they are a “remarkable audience even by the standards of the left-wing BBC.”
Ed Miliband last night clashed with Nicola Sturgeon after she said she would only back him as PM if he rejected austerity.
During the debate the Labour leader faced repeated calls from Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood to form a “progressive” alliance with their parties and the Greens to keep the Conservatives out of government.
Mr Miliband was asked whether he would form a coalition with the SNP. He told Ms Sturgeon he had “fundamental disagreements” with her over her support for Scottish independence, adding: “It’s a ‘no’, I’m afraid.”
He added: “You want to gamble on getting rid of a Tory government; I can guarantee that we get rid of a Tory government if you vote Labour.”
But Ms Sturgeon retorted: “We have the chance to kick David Cameron out of Downing Street. Don’t turn your back on it – people will never forgive you.
“Is it the case that you would rather see David Cameron go back into Downing Street than work with the SNP? Surely that cannot be your position.”
This video is doing the rounds on Twitter. Liz Truss, the environment secretary, is quizzed by a Bloomberg journalist on how he performed in the debate – which he did not attend.
Although David Cameron is thought to have refused to take part in the debate, which was in his absence rebranded as a “Challenger Debate”, he deployed two secretaries of state and No.10 aides to the spin room nevertheless.
On the day they launch their business manifesto positive job figures will give David Cameron a boost this morning.
New figures show that unemployment has fallen to a six-and-a-half-year-low. The official data shows that the rate is at the lowest since 2008. It is the final data on the issue to be released before voters head to the polls.
Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 1.8 per cent in the quarter to February, compared with an increase of 1.6 per cent in the three months to January.
The figures show that 1.9m more people are in work compared to when the Coalition took power in 2010. However Labour accuse the Conservatives of being “out of touch” with working people and warn that much of this employment is unstable and low paid work.
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said:
“Today’s fall in overall unemployment is welcome, but with working people earning on average £1,600 less a year since 2010 and the biggest fall in wages over a parliament since 1874, it’s clear the Tory plan is failing.”
Brighton is a battleground of this election – the Conservatives are defending marginal seats in Brighton Kemptown and Hove and are involved in a three way battle to wrench the seat of the country’s only Green MP Caroline lucas in Brighton Pavillion.
Lucas won 16,238 votes – 31.3 per cent, compared with Labour’s 14,986 votes 28.9 per cent and the Conservative’s 12,275 votes, 23.7 per cent.
It’s an odd mix Brighton Pavilion: Students, artists, commuters and families.
David Cameron has made his pitch for it today with an appeal in the local paper the Brighton Argus, asking voters to “stop Labour wrecking our country again”.
He writes that there was a “very real possibility” of Mr Miliband entering Downing Street “on the coat tails” of the SNP, adding: “It would be an alliance between the people who want to bankrupt Britain and the people who want to break up Britain – and it would be disastrous for every city, town and village in this country.”
Last night in the election debates Green leader Natalie Bennett used last nights debate to vow that here party would never prop up a Tory government and to tell voters that the country needed more MPs like Caroline Lucas shaking up parliament.
A Ukip leaflet delivered by councillors is Frome has gone viral after an English teacher decided to give it the full red pen treatment.
The leaflet, which focuses on free parking, Nigel Farage and taking back our “boarders” did not go down well with the teacher, and the result was later published on reddit.
The cringe-making mistakes include a call to “vote Ukip your get Ukip”, wayward apostrophes and some sentences which are so bizarre they have left even this fastidious teacher lost for words.
At one point they write: “This sentence is long and obscure. It needs some punctuation if it is to make sense”.
David Cameron is launching his ‘jobs manifesto’ at Fujitsu in West Mids today. He’s been asked whether he will now agree to a head to head with Ed Miliband.
The Labour leader used his final statement at last night’s debate to challenge the Prime Minister to a one on one battle ahead of the election.
David Cameron is not keen. He says they have already faced off 146 times at PMQs.
Mr Cameron also repeats his previous comments that he and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg were “not invited” to last night’s debate. He describes the event as “an idea of the broadcasters”.
However the format emerged after long, drawn out negotiations between the parties.
Alex Thomson is out and about in Scotland today. He sends this update:
Shark’s teeth – the trick the SNP somehow managed to pull off for the election is to have replaced the most effective campaigner in the UK in Alex Salmond with Nicola Sturgeon, who has has won near universal praise for the strength of her performances.
What Sturgeon manages is being the first UK politician to embody conviction politics (after the years of spin and focus group politics) since another woman: Margaret Thatcher.
In this plastic election Sturgeon has emerged with a devastating campaign weapon: mastering the selfie.
She has trademarked this quick – real – human interaction. Can you see Cameron, Clegg or Miliband carrying it off in the streets so effectively?
David Cameron is telling employees at Fujitsu in Birmingham about the “jobs miracle” he says is underlined by the employment figures out today. He said his critics were wrong to say all the new jobs were part-time, zero hours, based in the south-east, going to foreigners.
It’s my first glimpse of the Tory leader’s battle bus routine. The PM reads off autocue, wraps every message around the economy. It’s weirdly bloodless, sterile. There is zero excitement. I think the first leader to start doing street stump talks would get a bit of a fillip but that’s just guesswork and maybe won’t happen.
Answering questions after his little speech, the PM side-stepped Ed Miliband’s invitation to debate directly with the Labour Leader. He said there been nearly 150 debates between the two of them, which was a reference to prime minster’s questions in case you thought you’d missed some good telly.
Bloomberg’s Rob Hutton asked a surprised Liz Truss in the spin room last night if we’d seen the real David Cameron during the debate. David Cameron in Birmingham said he hadn’t been invited which is stretching the truth a little. He said he’d watched a bit of it and it showed “a hint of the chaos” you would get if you voted anything other than Conservative.
Picture caption competition: Tweet them to @georgiagraham.
Political producer Tim Bouverie kicks it off:
Huge cheers as Jim Murphy entered and for pledges to end Zero Hours contracts and make the Monaco set pay tax like everyone else (although he could not say how).
It is a younger audience than Scottish Tories – there are youth here (wow) and even some children.
There are at least three black people too which is three more than I saw at yesterday’s Tories.
Invited party audience of course so as usual no genuine interface with voters away for spin-control.
He began with a genuinely moving appeal that after Karen Buckley, Scotland’s streets must be safe for young women.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has told an audience of young people in Lincoln, he will keep his promise on cutting tuition fees. In a direct dig at Nick Clegg he said that the u-turn on the issue by the Lib Dems ” didn’t just damage Nick Clegg, it damaged everyone in politics.”
He also pledged to ban unpaid work placements that last more than four weeks, saying it is “time to end the system that is rigged in favour of the wealthier”.
One reporter asked Mr Miliband about the “stage-managed b*******” of his campaign, to which the Labour leader replied: “I don’t think you count as stage-managed.”
The Labour leader says he’s ‘deeply shocked’ by allegations and says his ‘heart goes out to the alleged victims’.
Leaving the Scottish Labour launch and the mood somewhat spoiled by the red VW Golf driver.
He slows, window down and stage-whispers “SNP” to me as he rolls by the front door.
He then gives the world the familiar middle finger gesture (interesting international choice, that) and drives off.
I think now I shall walk the streets of the East End accosting innocent Glaswegians.
My question:”Can I interest you in the Scottish Labour manifesto?”
Let us see how the day proceeds.
Ed Miliband came up a little short on his youth credentials today when he revealed he didn’t know who Vice news was – even going as far as admonishing one of the website’s reporters for asking him a cheeky question.
During a press conference Mr Miliband was faced with a question from the organisation, a global online video channel with a huge young audience, the Labour leader replied: “What does Vice News do?”
He was then asked “don’t you think this stage management bullshit is particularly alienating for young people”. “I don’t think you count as stage managed, do you Ben”, he added.
The Mayor of London who is standing as an MP in Uxbridge for the Conservative party is being typically cryptic about his ambitions if he and his party get in after May 7.
Mr Johnson, who kept the media guessing for months and months about whether he would run for parliament, refused to rule out taking on a position in Cabinet in the next government, despite the fact he would still have an year left as Mayor.
Mr Johnson stressed that his current mayoral position was like running a big budget government department already, but was careful not to rule out another Cabinet role that would not involve running a department.
“I don’t know what the rules say, in fact I don’t think there are any rules, but the job of mayor of London is effectively like running a big department of state.
“There’s a £16bn budget or whatever, there’s lots of executive stuff. What you can do is be an MP, just as you can be an MP and run a big department but I think to do another big budget-wielding department would be pretty tricky.”
Nigel Farage has announced his opposition to an increase in the minimum wage because he said any rise could encourage more immigrants to come to the UK.
The Ukip leader appeared on a phone-in show on BBC Radio 5 Live, and he was asked by a caller asked whether he would raise the rate.
“There is a problem with doing that. That is that if you increase the minimum wage, you may actually even attract more migrant Labour,” he said.
“Don’t forget, the minimum wage in Britain is now nine times what it is in Romania. If you increase it even more people would want to come. I want to see the market adjust this.
“The current proposal to increase the minimum wage, which is the Labour proposal, to put it up by 2019 to about £8 an hour, I don’t think an marginal increase is really going to make a difference.”
4.3 million viewers for last night’s debate according to the BBC.
The 2010 BBC1 election debate got more than 7 million viewers however it featured the Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem leaders.
The woman who wielded that red pen so effectively, was 54-year-old teacher Suzy Howlett, and she has spoken to the MailOnline: “I marked it during a happy two minutes last night,” she said.
“I had heard about the leaflet from friends and my husband brought home a copy and straight away I told him I was eager to take a red pen to it.
“The part about borders – or boarders – really made me laugh. I took a picture of my work and my children, Lucy and George, were very amused by it. They posted it to their friends, and it took off.”
The former special advisor to Nick Clegg is pouring cold water on the idea that the Liberal Democrat leader could have simply turned up to the debate last night and demanded a place.
Meanwhile Mr Clegg himself is in the Scottish constituency of Gordon where Liberal Democrat campaigners are desperately trying to buoy all the support they can to deliver their Lib Dem to Downing Street, but also to block a certain Alex Salmond from making the trip down south.
Michael Crick’s interview with Richard King, Ukip’s election candidate for Finchley and Golders Green, is interrupted by a cow in full spate.
There is a lively discussion on going on on mumsnet about the hug the three female leaders shared at the end of yesterday’s debate.
Parents are debating whether female party leaders should “manage a debate without group cuddling on stage”.
Some argue that women don’t hug in “business meetings constantly” and that there is no evidence that women are “intrinsically more emotional than men”.
Others say they have hugged colleagues before and have never known it to be an issue and that women are not “conditioned to hide their emotions in the same way men are”.
What do you think? Tweet me @georgiagraham
Jim Murphy is in danger of losing his seat to the SNP, the latest polling by Lord Ashcroft, the former Conservative party chairman, has shown.
Labour’s leader in Scotland is 10 points behind SNP in East Renfrewshire – 38 to 28 – the poll shows.
Other casualties of the nationalists could include Labour campaign chief Douglas Alexander, whcih the polls suggests could be defeated by SNP by 50 per cent to 39 per cent in Paisley & Renfrewshire South.
Lord Ashcroft has polled eight seats, including five he has polled before (East Renfrewshire; Glasgow South West; Paisley & Renfrewshire South; Ross, Skye & Lochaber, and Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale) and three new ones (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk; East Dunbartonshire and North East Fife).
In the three Labour seats, the SNP are further ahead than when they were polled earlier in the year, extendeding their lead from three to 21 points in Glasgow South West, and from eight to 11 points in Douglas Alexander’s seat of Paisley & Renfrewshire South.
In East Renfrewshire, a one-point Labour lead has become nine-points, here Mr Murphy may need to rely on the Tories to tactically vote and keep him in at the expense of the nationalists. The polling also shows that Lib Dem minister Jo Swinson is also vulnerable with the SNP leading by 11 points.
On tonight’s Channel 4 News – David Cameron hails a “jobs miracle” … more people in work than ever – and unemployment falling again. But just how many of these new jobs are low paid, part time, zero hours? The Tories say it’s great for people seeking a work life balance. Exploitation, say Labour – plain and simple: and dressing up insecurity as flexibility. We’re on the case.
Plus from Scotland – Labour insist they won’t be making any “shoddy back room deals” with the SNP – but if it’s a question of keeping the Conservatives out of power – what would they really be prepared to do? The post-election landscape is still anyone’s guess.
Abroad – some serious violence in South Africa where protests against immigration have degenerated into more clashes, with police firing rubber bullets – and footage showing what appears to be a chlorine attack by Syrian forces in Idlib: footage which leaves many experienced UN diplomats reduced to tears.
But there’s still time for more election politics: and a constituency that shows quite how tight a race this is. Finchley – Mrs Thatcher’s old seat, now a Lab/Con marginal. Michael Crick has been gathering the broadest possible range of views. He’s even canvassed a couple of alpacas, or possibly llamas. If that’s not dedication, we don’t know what is. Join us at seven, on four.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt launches his party’s election manifesto, encouraging people to read it and search for the typographical error – “if there is one!”
“60 per cent of those job are managerial level jobs, they are not low paid jobs, 75 per cent of are full time jobs, and over 60 per cent are taken by British nationals as opposed to what happened under Labour which is 90 per cent were taken by foreign nationals.” – Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
“The reality is we know that many of these jobs are low paid, the number of people paid less than the living wage has gone up by one and a half million in the last few years and there are now 1.8 million zero-hour contract jobs in the economy.” – Rachel Reeves, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
“Tony Blair promised to get rid of zero hours contracts in 1997 and you didn’t do it for 13 years, so why should we believe you now?”
How did Chuka Umunna, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, responds to Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s question? Find out below.
Finchley may have been Margaret Thatcher’s constituency, but an Ashcroft poll puts Labour two points ahead of the incumbent Conservative MP.
Michael Crick visited the north London area to examine the battleground constituency.