Newspaper headlines: Fallout from leaders' election debate

The papers were quick to react to the party leaders' televised election debate after it finished late in the evening.

The Times focuses on the performances of the SNP's Nicola Sturgeon and UKIP's Nigel Farage, the Guardian and the Independent remark on the fragmented nature of party politics, and the Daily Telegraph and the Sun conclude that Labour's Ed Miliband had a bad time.

In a leading article, the Times says as expected there were no clear winners among the big parties. "It was the fringe that had its voice heard most strongly," it says. There were no "knock-out blows" as it puts it.

The Daily Telegraph describes the debate as "messy" but says there is a simple choice for voters.

"A full seven candidates stood on stage, reflecting a political spectrum that has broadened and splintered into many different parts since 2010," it says. "And yet the choice faced this May is actually far more straightforward than it first looks."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Seven party leaders took part in the debate

The Guardian says the presence of UKIP, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party was a "powerful demonstration of the decline of the main parties".

The Sun says it was like watching the warm-up before a sporting cup final - but the game will be won or lost over the next 30-odd days.

The Daily Mirror tends to agree: "Last night was last night. This election will still go down to the wire."

Looking at the participants' body language, the Times says: "Nicola Sturgeon appeared peppy and confident, echoing Nick Clegg's easy confidence. Natalie Bennett's wooden performance was coupled with a stilted speaking style."

Reviewing host Julie Etchingham's performance, Andrew Pettie in the Telegraph says she was "composure itself" in contrast to the party leaders.

"Fittingly the noisy two-hour debate was filmed in the same studio as telly's often-volatile Jeremy Kyle Show," notes the Sun.


'Penalty shoot-out'

"Wow. That was exhausting - and all I had to do was sit on my sofa watching it," says Michael Deacon's sketch in the Telegraph.

"Shout, shout, interruption, shout. The stress of it. It was like sitting through a two-hour penalty shoot-out - between seven different teams."

"You had to hope it wasn't an ITV ad booker's joke to run a commercial for Confused.com in the break," writes Donald MacIntyre in the Independent.

"Because there was quite a lot for the viewer to be puzzled about. Seven party leaders attacking each other from whole different political directions is hardly what we're used to."

Commenting in the Daily Express, Leo McKinstry says the format was not conducive to informative discussion or a clear-cut outcome, as the leaders "indulged in rehearsed soundbites, dodgy statistics and hollow bombast".

Philip Collins in the Times says the format was ludicrous in strict proportion to the way British politics has become ludicrous.

Image caption "You are the weakest link, goodbye"

Steve Richards comments in the Independent that there was no clear winner, whatever the instant polls suggest, because "the format gave no space for one individual to flourish".

Ann Treneman's political sketch in the Times says there was speculation about whether the fact that three of the leaders were women would change the tone of the debate "and make it less aggressive, less shouty".

"But it was only the women who were taking on Nigel," she writes. "The men just stood there, arguing their points, and looking earnest."

In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts likens the event to quiz show The Weakest Link.

"Readers, I loved it. What a hoot, a mixture of bar fight, bitchfest and Grand National steeplechase. Oh, all those sideways glances and pouts, and the third-person references to people who were only feet away."

"These debates are obviously here to stay. That's fine," concludes Daily Star TV critic Mike Ward. "But as viewers we should lower our expectations."


Sinking feeling

A day after the papers were full of stories about a couple who had won £1m on the Lottery twice within two years comes news of another big win.

Retired turkey farmer Richard Maxwell is pictured on the front of the Mirror with his wife Angela after scooping £53m, making him Britain's 10th biggest jackpot winner.

He reveals that as he found out about his prize on 1 April he thought it was an April Fool's joke.

The Mirror has some ideas how he could spend the money - for example a £39m Gulfstream G650 private jet, a newly built penthouse in South Kensington for £50m, or how about 3.8 million supermarket turkeys.

The Times says Mr Maxwell kept the news to himself for four hours until his wife got back from helping at a pensioners' luncheon club.

The Daily Express claims at least a tiny part of the credit - it says Mr Maxwell picked up the ticket when he went to buy a copy of the newspaper.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Another day, another winner

The couple are from Coningsby in Lincolnshire, which the Sun says is "one of the luckiest counties for Lotto jackpots".

The Mirror says: "EuroMillions winners Richard and Angela Maxwell deserved a visit from Lady Luck, as both raise funds for charity and do their bit for the community.

"And he must be the coolest man in Britain after waiting four hours for his wife to come home so he could break the £53m news."

In contrast to the Maxwells, one group of people who have had that sinking feeling is the Oxford University women's rowing team.

They were rescued by an RNLI lifeboat after their boat began to take on water on the River Thames while training for the forthcoming Boat Race.

The Telegraph says they were fished out of the water by the lifeboat crew which stumbled across the stricken eight by chance.

The Times says sinkings are an occupational hazard for crews struggling against the tidal waters of the Thames, and recalls the flooding of the Cambridge men's boat in 1978.


Salt dispute

It is claimed to be one of the most enviable police posts in the UK says the Times, which reports that Devon and Cornwall Police are advertising for a third officer to work on the Isles of Scilly.

The paper says the new bobby is unlikely to be troubled by bank robberies, serial killers or motorway pile-ups on an archipelago where the crime rate is close to zero.

Restraining wayward seals or separating drunken chefs fighting over whether sea salt or rock salt is best are more probable challenges - incredibly these are real examples of recent incidents the constabulary has had to deal with.

Officers have also had to cope with a short-sighted horse damaging cars, dead fish dumped on the doorstep of the police station and a row over a shed dating back over the past 50 years.

Team leader Sgt Colin Taylor posted the job advert on the force's Facebook page which now has more than 20,000 followers, 10 times the entire population of the islands.

PC Faye Webb, who is leaving, said: "Whoever takes my job will love it. It is a unique place to police and a lovely small community."

Finally, the Mail reports on a study that suggests having a Waitrose supermarket close by increases the value of a house.

The research, by Lloyds Bank, found that such homes cost 12% more than those in the surrounding area but not so close to the store - but having an Aldi or a Lidl on your doorstep means your house could be worth less.

A cartoon has a couple looking out of their window at a Waitrose store and saying: "It was mainly the views that attracted us to the property."


Making people click

Times: Should the statue of Sir Nigel keep its duck?

Telegraph: Greece draws up drachma plans, prepares to miss IMF payment

Guardian: Ed Miliband narrowly beats David Cameron in snap poll after leaders' debate

Independent: At least 147 dead after al-Shabaab terrorists storm campus and separate Muslim and Christian students

Mail: Toddler spent 22 hours in car cuddled up to the body of pregnant mother after she died suddenly on the way home from trip to petting zoo