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Summary

  1. The leaders of seven UK parties took part in a two-hour live televised election debate
  2. It was the only debate of the campaign which will feature David Cameron and Ed Miliband
  3. They clashed on a range of issues including the NHS, immigration and the deficit
  4. Snap polls taken afterwards gave differing verdicts on the winner
  5. There are 35 days until the general election

Live Reporting

By Tom Moseley, Andrew McFarlane and Bernadette McCague

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Recap: Debate day round-up

  • The leaders of seven UK parties took part in a two-hour live televised election debate, clashing on a range of issues including the NHS, immigration and the deficit
  • It was the only debate of the campaign which will feature both David Cameron and Ed Miliband
  • Snap polls taken afterwards gave differing verdicts on the winner, with Nicola Sturgeon, Nigel Farage, Ed Miliband and David Cameron said to have impressed most - depending on the poll
  • The audience was encouraged not to clap or offer too much reaction. However one heckler did tackle the leaders on homelessness among armed forces veterans

Performance analysis

Iain Watson

Political correspondent

There was no "killer blow", says BBC political correspondent Iain Watson, who analyses how each of the leaders performed.

Perhaps dividing lines were blurred by the very nature of a seven-way debate."

Read more of Iain's analysis.

Guardian front page

Guardian
Guardian

£21bn welfare savings

Reality Check

One final check from the leaders' debate - David Cameron says his government has made £21bn of savings in welfare.

This comes from analysis by the Office for Budget Responsibility on the amount of savings or costs from introducing certain policy measures.

The OBR estimated that £21bn would be saved by 2015-16 by implementing new policy measures on welfare, social security benefits and tax credits. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has produced its own estimate of welfare savings and puts the figure at more like £17bn.

These figures relate to the amount saved compared with what would have happened if these policy changes hadn’t been implemented. It’s not the amount that the overall welfare spending has fallen. The IFS expects the amount spent on welfare in 2015-16 to be almost exactly the same as the amount spent in 2010-11 once the effects of inflation are removed.

Telegraph front page

Telegraph
Telegraph

The Times front page

The Times
The Times

Independent front page

Independent front page
Independent

NHS and politics

Question Time is ending with a debate about the NHS. Why won't politicians sign up to a multi-party committee to stop it becoming a "political football", the panel is asked. Andy Burnham, Labour's health spokesman, says it should be accountable to Parliament but adds that "nobody signed up for" the reforms carried out by the coalition. You can't take politics out of the NHS completely, says Lib Dem Danny Alexander, because people have different views.

Living wage

Reality Check

Here's another look at a claim made during the debate. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said 20% of workers were being paid less than the "living wage" - a term used by campaigners to describe the sum an individual must earn to cover basic living costs.

That's estimated as £7.85 an hour, increased to £9.15 an hour for those working in London.

A report from the independent Living Wage Commission in June 2014 found that “there remain 5.2 million people paid below a Living Wage in the UK”. The Commission includes representatives from business, trade unions and civil society.

And the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), taken from 2014, estimate that 21.7% of UK jobs pay less than the Living Wage. Strictly speaking that's jobs, not workers.

However, the proportion of jobs paying less than the living wage varies considerably when considering full-time and part-time jobs. In full time employment just 13.4% of jobs pay below the living wage, while the figure for part-time jobs rises to 42.3%.

Snap poll results

Here is a summary of the snap polls carried out after tonight's leaders' debate.

Snap poll results
BBC

More debate reaction to come

This Week will gauge the reaction of Michael Portillo, David Lammy, Suzanne Evans, Miranda Green and SNP supporter Brian Cox, before host Andrew Neil winds down later with reality star Joey Essex. Watch live from 23:45 BST on BBC1.

Joey Essex
BBC

No game-changer?

Nick Robinson

Political editor

Perhaps, says BBC political editor Nick Robinson. But the debate proved a new era of multi-party politics had become a "visible reality".

This debate does not look likely to have determined who will win the general election but it may crystallise one single, simple and hugely significant fact - the shape of British politics has changed for good."

Read more onNick's blog.

Dominating the debate

Some more on Twitter's analysis of what people were talking about during the #leadersdebate. The three moments that generated the greatest spikes in conversation on the social media site were:

1. Nigel Farage’s comments on HIV

2. The closing speeches

3. A heckler interrupting

Among the most re-tweeted posts was this satirical take by @GeneralBoles on Jonny Tudor, the 17-year-old who asked the first question of the evening.

A tweet by GeneralBoles about the young man who asked the first question
Twitter

Immigration on Question Time

Back to Question Time, and the panel is asked about immigration. "It's plain that we are full," says Peter Hitchens. Michael Gove doesn't agree, saying it's a "good thing when talented people come here". Lib Dem Danny Alexander says in many parts of the economy "we rely on people from other parts of the world".

Heckler

Victoria Prosser
PA

The heckler who interrupted David Cameron during the TV leaders' debate (see 21:47) says she will not be voting for any of the politicians who took part. Victoria Prosser, 33, said she was asked to leave after making her intervention. Speaking to reporters outside the studio, she said: "My cause is speaking the truth and making sure as many people as possible start questioning people at the top, the 1%, who are not working in our best interests."

More from the Worm

The nationalists had a harder time when talking about either Wales or Scotland – for a more generally British audience, these issues didn’t cut through. But the female leaders of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens all saw positive movement – most impressively when Nicola Sturgeon (twice) spoke about free university tuition in Scotland, when the Worm hit one of its highest points.

Worm's verdict

Here's what the BBC's floating voter worm (explained here ) made of the leaders' debate:

Our audience of about 50 floating voters were a fairly positive bunch. The Worm didn’t dip too low at any one point. It leapt to life most markedly during the NHS session – praising the NHS or talking about how valuable it was a sure fire way of getting the Worm to rise. Other moments where it hit high points included when leaders talked about values more generally. It dipped though when there were arguments, or leaders talking over each other. Interestingly the Worm was not too active while UKIP leader Nigel Farage talked about immigration – it did though warm to his positive remarks on the NHS.

Jim Pickard, Financial Times

@PickardJE

tweets :

I didn't like Farage's performance but viewers put him 1st, 2nd and 3rd in three polls. He can claim to have won whether or not you agree.

Mighty Giant

@mighty_giant

Tweets:

Move the HofC to Salford. They all seem to be enjoying themselves up here #mediacity #leadersdabate @bbcqt

Bargepole

"First of all the women did fantastically well," says journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, to applause, on Question Time. The debate moves on to Scotland as Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove says his party will do no deals with the SNP. "The SNP has made it clear they won't touch you with a bargepole", says David Dimbleby. "The feeling is mutual" replies Mr Gove.

Latest from Salford

Question Time
BBC

Round two is well under way in Salford. How do this lot compare with the seven leaders? You can watch on the live coverage tab above.

Question Time

Columnist Peter Hitchens says that with the exception of Nigel Farage, all of the leaders had "rehearsed incessantly" in order to avoid making mistakes on tonight's debate.

Nigel Morris, Deputy Poltical Editor, The Independent

@NigelpMorris

Tweets:

YouGov has Con 37 (+1) Lab 35 (+1) Ukip 12 (-1) LDem 7 (-1) Green 5 (+1). No sign of election bounce LDems always rely on in elections

Question Time panel

Question Time panel
BBC

Sturgeon most tweeted

Nicola Sturgeon takes part in the ITV leaders' debate - 2 April 2015
AFP

A look at Twitter shows SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was the most mentioned leader by a long way. Here's the full breakdown of mentions during the two-hour debate:

@NicolaSturgeon 36,958

@Nigel_Farage 18,404

@NatalieBen 17,999

@Ed_Miliband 16,036

@LeanneWood 13,279

@David_Cameron 11,196

@Nick_Clegg 6,204

Question Time

Had your fill of political debate? Of course you haven't. Question Time is just getting under way now. You can watch on the live coverage tab above.

Tom Newton Dunn, Political Editor, The Sun

@tnewtondunn

Tweets:

YouGov/Sun poll tonight: Meanwhile, in the real world… Tory 2 point lead + at highest in 3 years: CON 37%, LAB 35%, UKIP 12%, LD 7%, GRN 5%

And another poll...

There are quite a few polls being released, and it's fair to say they don't exactly concur. Here's one from the Guardian/ICM.

  • Miliband: 25%
  • Cameron: 24%
  • Farage: 19%
  • Sturgeon: 17%
  • Clegg: 9%
  • Bennett: 3%
  • Wood: 2%

More polling

Another finding from the ComRes snap poll. 40% said David Cameron was "most capable of leading the UK" followed by Ed Miliband on 28% and Nigel Farage on 10%.

Jamie Ross, @BuzzFeedUK

@JamieRoss7

Tweets:

@TwitterUK say over 1.4 million tweets were sent about #leadersdebate. Most tweeted moment? Farage's comments on HIV.

A dead heat?

Respondents to an ITV News/ComRes poll scored the debate quite differently to YouGov.They recorded a dead heat between David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nigel Farage on 21%. Nicola Sturgeon was one point behind, with Nick Clegg trailing on 9%, Natalie Bennett on 5% and Leanne Wood on 2%.

Apprenticeships for women

Reality Check

Nick Clegg highlighted that more than half of those taking up apprenticeships are women. He’s right. From 2010/11 onwards, more apprenticeships have been started by women than men, according to a House of Commons Library analysis of BIS data.

Chart showing apprenticeships
House of Commons Library

'Storming performance'

More from the spin room. "I knew there would be no brain fade tonight," says the Green Party's Darren Johnson, in a reference to Natalie Bennett's struggles in a recent radio interview: "I knew she would put in a storming performance". Lib Dem Care Minister Norman Lamb says he is "proud" that Nick Clegg was the only leader to raise the importance of mental health investment.

David Schneider, comedian

@davidschneider

tweets:

Ratings so far: Milband 15% Sturgeon 19% Farage 21% Heckler 47% #leadersdebate

A heckler interrupts proceedings at the ITV debate
BBC
A heckler was removed from the studio after interrupting proceedings

Paul Waugh, Editor PoliticsHome.com

@paulwaugh

Tweets:

Osborne handed mobile by comms chief Craig Oliver, showing him YouGov poll that Sturgeon won, Cam 2nd. Osborne beams

Scots paying more?

Reality Check

Lots of praise for Nicola Sturgeon. But how do her claims about tax stack up?

The SNP leader says that for the last 30 years the Scots have paid more tax per head than the English.

Whether that's true depends on how you share out revenue from North Sea oil.

If you apportion them on a geographic basis then she's right (that's a division that counts almost all North Sea oil revenue as coming from Scotland).

If you divide the revenue equally across the people of the UK then Scots have not paid more than the English, and that is also the case if you exclude oil revenue completely.

Send us your comments

Text: 61124

Jim, S. Lanarkshire:

More than anything, tonight's debate has demonstrated the need to have more women at the top of British politics. Very impressed by all the women - including Julie Etchingham who conducted superbly.

Membership boost

The SNP says that early poll suggesting Nicola Sturgeon came out on top is backed up by an increase in membership. The party claims to have gained 1,200 new members during the course of the debate.

Poll result

The final results of that YouGov poll of 1,100 people are in. Pollster Peter Kellner says SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was the "clear winner". Plenty more polls are being carried out, but here are the YouGov scores:

Nicola Sturgeon 28%

Nigel Farage 20%

David Cameron 18%

Ed Miliband 15%

Nick Clegg 10%

Natalie Bennett 5%

Leanne Wood 4%

Have your say

Text: 61124

Phil, Manchester:

Too many NHS middle managers/ bureaucrats? Happy to do a job swap with Cameron / Farage for a week!