Miliband ‘wins’ election TV debate

Published: Friday 17th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Ed Miliband emerged the “winner” of the second TV debate of the General Election campaign in an instant poll conducted after clashing with leaders of smaller parties who urged him to form a “progressive” coalition to run the country.

The Labour leader ended last night’s 90 minute showdown with the other opposition party leaders by issuing a direct on-air challenge to David Cameron – who did not take part – to debate him head-to-head on TV before the May 7 election.

The challenge was brushed off by the Conservatives who said the debate had shown that if Mr Miliband entered No 10 at the head of a minority Labour government it would be the SNP who would be “in the driving seat”.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who complained that he had been excluded from last night’s event, said he ready to debate Mr Miliband “any time, any place, anywhere” even if Mr Cameron would not.

The party leaders were returning to the campaign trail with Mr Miliband promising to end the “scandal” of long-term internships and Mr Cameron warning of the threat to the Conservative “jobs miracle” if Labour gained power.

Mr Clegg is heading to Gordon in Scotland where ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond is bidding to take the seat from the Lib Dems, with an appeal to Labour and Tory supporters to vote tactically to keep out the nationalists.

In a poll of 1,013 viewers conducted by Survation for the Daily Mirror, Mr Miliband came out on top in last night’s debate, with 35% judging him the winner, narrowly ahead of SNP’s 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%.

In an encouraging outcome for the Labour leader, some 45% of those who took part in the poll after watching the debate said they would choose Mr Miliband in a straight choice for prime minister, against 40% for Mr Cameron.

However Conservatives immediately claimed that the debate had exposed the extent to which a minority Labour government would be in thrall to the SNP.

Commons Leader William Hague said: “Nicola Sturgeon, it is very clear from this debate, wants to put Ed Miliband into Downing Street and then drive him into more and more extreme positions.”

The Conservative leader came under attack for failing to attend the debate, with Mr Miliband saying he had “chosen not to defend his record”.

Ms Sturgeon was applauded as she branded the Prime Minister’s absence a “disgrace”.

Mr Miliband concluded the broadcast with a direct message to the Prime Minister: “David, if you think this election is about leadership, then debate me one-on-one.

The debate saw Ms Sturgeon alternately attacking and wooing the Labour leader, as she urged him to take part in a progressive alliance which would make his policies bolder.

“We share a desire to see the back of the Tories but surely we do not want to replace the Tories with ‘Tory lite’; we want to replace the Tories with something better”, she told him.

She warned Mr Miliband he would not be forgiven if he refused to work with the SNP in a hung parliament to “lock David Cameron out of Downing Street”.

“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,” she said.

Mr Miliband retorted there was a “huge difference” between Tory cuts and Labour’s deficit reduction plans, adding: “I’ve fought the Tories all my life, unlike the SNP. You’ve fought Labour all your life, Nicola. I just don’t buy it.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who repeatedly found himself isolated as other leaders condemned his calls to quit the EU and radically cut immigration, said he was “the only person here saying what a lot of people at home are really thinking”.

And he described the audience in Westminster’s Central Hall who applauded his opponents as “remarkable … even by the left-wing standards of the BBC” – something which prompted presenter David Dimbleby to insist that those attending had been independently chosen to represent the spread of opinion in the population.

Published: Friday 17th April 2015 by The News Editor

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