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Summary

  1. The Wales Report's Huw Edwards chaired a live debate from Cardiff's Sherman Theatre
  2. The panel represented all six main parties standing in Wales - covering topics including the economy and the NHS

Live Reporting

By George Herd and Tomos Livingstone

All times stated are UK

Get involved

And that is it from the online team tonight - we hope you enjoyed the debate - there's plenty more coverage to come over the next six days as we continue to count down to next Thursday's election.

If you are still hungry for more - join Felicity Evans now over on BBC Radio Wales - where she is taking your calls and views on how you think the party leaders performed.

Felicity Evans programme
BBC

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

Both Stephen Crabb and Kirsty Williams had some uncomfortable moments in defending aspects of the record of the UK government. But on their own most-favoured territory (the economy for Crabb, and the NHS for Williams who has a long-standing expertise in this field) they landed some effective blows.

For much of the night Leanne Wood seemed in quite reserved form. I was wondering whether she was running out of steam as we approach the end of the campaign. But perhaps she was just waiting her moment - for she had the most effective line of the night, when telling Owen Smith to 'time is up on taking people for granted', which seemed to get a big reaction from the audience.

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

I'm not sure that there was a clear winner of the debate. But I think there was a clear loser. Although he had some effective lines, Owen Smith of Labour did not have a good night overall. He was even forced onto the defensive during the section of the debate focussed on the NHS - which is supposed to be Labour's strongest territory. Labour remain in the lead in the Welsh polls, but I doubt that tonight will have done anything to strengthen their position.

All the other leaders performed capably, I think. The least well-known, Pippa Bartolotti and Nathan Gill, both will have come over well to potential voters for their parties, I suspect. Gill has been notable in both this and the ITV debate for taking quite a softly-spoken approach - that contrasts with the more abrasive style of Nigel Farage in the Britain-wide debates.

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

So, what to make of the debate tonight?

First of all, I think the audience was one clear winner. They seemed to be cut from very much the same cloth as the Question Time debate in Leeds last time: feisty and well-informed. Well done to them.

All of the party representatives tried to focus on their party's strengths, as I suggested earlier. But I think they did so with varying degrees of success. There was, in the cliché always used about such events, no 'knock-out blow'. But both the representatives of the largest parties, Stephen Crabb for the Conservatives and Owen Smith of Labour, were put on the defensive several times - both by the audience and on occasion by their opponents.

Before we wrap up for the evening - lets get to the final thoughts on the night from Prof Roger Scully, our resident expert from Cardiff University's Wales Governance Centre

Via Twitter

Here's one of the final views from the audience on Twitter tonight: em

@fluteandnut says: I didn't watch #WalesDebates but from my twitter everyone seems to have won. . .

That's it the debate is over - but were there winners and losers? The debate is continuing on BBC Radio Wales - and of course on social media - #walesdebates

FElicty
BBC

And as Huw Edwards said - time now for BBC Radio Wales to take up the baton

The SNP can say what they like about the Barnett Formula, says Leanne Wood. She's interested in parity of funding with Scotland, and asks Owen Smith to "have a conversation" with Ed Miliband about

ruling out a deal with Plaid Cymru.

That's your alternative, says Stephen Crabb, gesturing to Leanne Wood and Owen Smith - a squabbling coalition of chaos.

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

Leanne Wood had the best line of the night there, I suspect, on Labour 'taking Wales for granted'.

Time is up, stop taking people for granted, Leanne Wood tells Owen Smith.

Trying out some slogans for next year's Assembly election campaign?

The final question of the night is from Kyran Kimberlee - what'll happen in the event of a hung parliament?

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

I think that is the first time that a substantial part of the audience have openly laughed at a panellist. Not great for Owen Smith - and on the NHS part of the debate as well.

Via Twitter

Nick Servini

Political editor, Wales

@NickServini

tweets: #WalesDebate dominated by welfare. Crabb came under sustained attack on issue. Slightly muted tone overall. Some good exchanges on economy.

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

The NHS is normally thought to be Labour's trump card - but I'm not sure that this discussion on it is going quite how they would have hoped.

I have diabetes, I love the NHS, says Nathan Gill. He says it's wrong to conflate criticisms of the service with attacks on the front-line staff or somehow talking down Wales.

Mr Smith claims his mailbag has letters of praise for the Welsh NHS

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

So, who wants to take on the challenge of explaining the Barnett Formula to the audience?

In my mailbag, there are constituents who write every single week about the challenges of the NHS, says Stephen Crabb. You should seethe language voters themselves use in their letters, he says.

Owen Smith unsurprisingly keen to talk about

this.

Don't forget that you can join Felicity Evans

from 22:00 tonight over on BBC Radio Wales, where she'll be taking your calls on the election debate.

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

Interesting that, in contrast to Nigel Farage in the UK-debates, Nathan Gill did not try to turn the NHS question into an attack on immigration - he is generally taking a rather more emollient approach than his party leader.

Nathan Gill
BBC

Applause as Nathan Gill says the Welsh Government has made "a right pig's ear" of running the NHS in Wales.

Next question is from Kemi Nevins - "Many decisions made regarding the NHS are short-term measures designed to be crowd-pleasing. What would the panel's commitments be to the nation's long-term health problems?"

Audience member says people with disabilities must be "beyond exasperated" to see politicians talking about them as a political problem. Asks what the panel would never cut on ethical grounds.

"Minimum wage," says Leanne Wood.

"I want to raise the Carer's Allowance'" from Nathan Gill.

"I'd cut high earners' wages," says Pippa Bartolotti, while Kirsty Williams says she wouldn't support the welfare cuts proposed by the Conservatives.

"We will not be cutting disabled people's benefits," says Owen Smith. Stephen Crabb says we don't want to cut child benefit, pensions - but others asks about where the proposed £12bn of welfare cuts would come from.

Via Twitter

Martin Pike - @Martin74P

tweets: Great question from the audience "what would you ethically NEVER cut?" #WalesDebates

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

The reaction by the audience to Owen Smith there suggests that, whatever else they may think on other issues, Labour have not convinced many people of their case on the economy.

Question on trust from audience member - will Owen Smith admit the last Labour government spent unwisely. Owen Smith's refusal to agree is met by groans from the audience.

Leanne Wood: The Tories go out to deliberately demonise people who rely on benefits. But Stephen Crabb responds the there's a need to make the benefits system fairer.

Via Blog

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

Roger Scully:

All four speakers from the opposition parties spoke very strongly on the question on welfare benefits. Both Kirsty Williams and Stephen Crabb looked somewhat uncomfortable in defending the 'Bedroom Tax', and they didn't seem to attract a great deal of sympathy from the audience when doing so.

Stephen Crabb doing that rarest of things - mounting a detailed defence of the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

Via Twitter

David Cornock

BBC Wales Parliamentary correspondent

@davidcornock

says on Twitter: Consensus breaking out on Twitter among spin doctors for the #walesdebates leaders - all agree their man or woman is storming ahead

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

Maybe Pippa Bartolotti is less experienced and polished than some of her opponents up on the stage. But her passion showed through very effectively there in talking about the impact of austerity on women and the poor.

Via Twitter

Andrea Newman - @newman_andrea

tweets: The only thing this debate is missing is Tom Jones #WalesDebates

Our next question is from Bethany Tiencken - If elected what will your party do for a fairer system for the disabled and their carers?

I know women with three jobs struggling to make ends meet, says Pippa Bartolotti - she urges women to get involved in politics and close the gender pay gap.

David Cornock

BBC Wales Parliamentary correspondent

@davidcornock

tweets: "#walesdebates coming alive when the politicians challenge each other - @LeanneWood vs @OwenSmith4MP and Smith vs @SCrabb2015"

It's getting a bit livelier as the impact of spending cuts take centre stage. You just don't get it, Owen Smith tells Stephen Crabb. Beat your chest as much as you want, he replies. Leanne Wood though wants to know whether Mr Smith thinks it was "foolish" of Ed Milbiand to rule out working with Plaid Cymru - but we'll have to wait until later for the answer.

Via Blog

Prof Roger Scully

Cardiff University

Probably Owen Smith's most effective contribution thus far on food banks and inequality. But a strong come-back from Stephen Crabb.

An audience member says: the seems to be a culture of denial in Wales over the economy - and it's primarily the Welsh Government's fault