Peter Hoskin

TV debate - live blog

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2130, PH: And that's it.  I'll be posting a verdict shortly.

2129, PH:
Clegg tries to repeat his Amazing Memory Feat from last week - but this time it's the issues discussed, and not questioners' names.  Not as impressive.  After that, he talks "change" and delivers a few jibes about the "opponents of change".

2128, PH: Cameron, to camera: "That sounded desperate ... we need a clean break."  Cameron says "clean break" again, and mentioned the "Big Society".

2127, PH:
Closing pitches now. Brown doesn't look at the camera for his - it starts slowly, but he looks more enthusiastic when he gets to the bit about the Tories being a "risk to the economy".  He adds that the Lib Dems are a risk because of their policies on Iran and Trident.

2126, JGF:
This immigration exchange worked well for Cameron. Miliband in the room now spinning for Labour.

2125, PH:
And now Clegg is onto Cameron, asking what level the Tories would set any cap at.  Cameron doesn't give a direct answer.

2123, PH: Clegg is on Brown's case - asking him what he would do about the country's "900,000" current illegal immigrants.  Brown murmurs something about deporations.  But Clegg has a snappy response: "Deport them? You don't even know where they live."  This gets a laugh from the audience.

2122, PH: Cameron deals with Clegg's regionalised immigration policy, asking sardonically whether it would mean border controls at each county.

2120, JGF: Tories have just blasted out quotes from a speech where Brown suggested the Tories would scrap 'free bus passes for the elderly and free prespcriptions'. It's a speech to a Welsh Labour conference, but I'm pretty sure these issues aren't devolved. But open to being corrected.

2118, PH: Brown surprisingly forceful in response to Nick Clegg - he says that an amnesty wouldn't deter illegal immigrants, but draw them to a soft-touch Britain. Problem is, after 13 years, Brown probably isn't making his attacks from the strongest platform.

2117, JGF: Mandelson's not here but he's still spinning, a statement from him has just landed in our inboxes.

2116, PH: Immigration now - how can it be made fairer.  Clegg leads with the Lib Dem's policy of having an amnesty for illegal immigrants.  He says that these people have "lived in the shadows of the economy".

2114, JGF: That's Brown's message for the night: Cameron's a risk to the economy, Clegg's a risk to your security. It's the startegy Hillary adopted towards the end of the Dem primaries in '08 as she tried to run against McCain and Obama simulatenously.

2113, PH: Brown tries to turn the issue on it's head, saying that Cameron isn't "denying" that he'd take "six thousand millions out of the economy" in an emergency Budget.  He claims that this sounds like the "same old Tories".  Cameron frowns.

2112, JGF:
Hope someone has footage of Gove taking it to Whelan over Labour's leaflets in the media centre.

2110, PH: Now were getting into the Great National Insurance Dividing Line.  Cameron says that Labour's hike would stall the recovery - and mentions the support of business leaders.  Brown claims that "taking £6bn out of the economy" would cost jobs.  To my minds, the Tory leader has the superior lines on this.

2108, PH:
Clegg naturally plays up the need for cross-party cooperation.  He says that, whoever wins, there should be a national economic council (involving the shadow chancellors) to help deal with the fiscal situation.  Of course he'll like this idea - because it would give his party extra importance.  Brown lists all the current economic councils, in response.

2107, JGF: Tories will be delighted at shots of the audience nodding along to Cameron's answer.

2106, PH: Question on whether a coalition government would be better for sorting out the fiscal mess. A good answer from Cameron: he says that politicians should work together when they can (he mentions the case of when he backed Blair's education bill) - but that a hung parliament would destabilise the repair effort.

2104, JGF: Tories clearly confident, Gove out talking to journalists.

2103, PH: Cameron calms things down a bit, saying that the elderly should have the right to own their own home.

2101, PH: Clegg tries to drag the subject to social care.  But Brown and Cameron continue their scrap.  Brown says that Cameron still didn't guarantee free eye tests for the elderly.  Cameron interrupts, saying "alright, then, I'll gurantee it now."  He asks Labour to withdraw their leaflets.  Brown looks a little shellshocked.

2059, PH: Punchy stuff from Cameron. Brown accuses the Tories of not "guaranteeing" free eye tests and free prescriptions for the elderly. The Tory leader hits back, attaking the Labour leaflets which claim the Tories would could this, that and the other service for those in old age. He says these are "lies".  Suspect this anger will play quite well with audiences.

2058, PH: All three are fanning out from the central topic: moving from earnings links to residential care, from pension leves to winter fuel allowance.

2057, JGF: Brown to questioner--'Woman--you are one of them'. You really couldn't make this up.

2056, PH: A lady asks whether a £59 a week pension is enough.

2055, JGF: Cameron goes hard for Clegg on Clegg's rhetoric that the Lib Dems were less bad on expenses, Clegg clearly furious as Cameron brings up cake tins--something Clegg claimed for.

2053, PH: Smart approach from Cameron.  He says that people are getting fed up with parties saying that they come out of the expenses scandal with a clean bill of health.  "We all had problems, Nick" he adds, before saying, "and we all need to work to fix things."  Cameron is impressing in this round.

2052, PH: Brown drags things round to a different topic, attacking the Tories over their IHT policy.  He says it's the "biggest unfairness".  Let's not forget that this is the man who ended the 10p tax rate - and tried not to tell us about it.

2051, JGF:
Questioner clearly flattered by Clegg saying she looks very young.

2050, PH: Clegg is going big on the "old parties" theme. Brown responds with moralising about the "actions of some MPs".

2048, PH: Boulton does his bit to try to upset the Clegg bandwagon.  Turning to the Lib Dem leader, he starts "you were on the front of the Telegraph this morning".  Clegg calls it a "rubbish story," but looks quite rattled.  Expect questions about whether Boulton should have editorialised the chairman's role at that point.

2047, PH:
Cameron is strong and direct.  He sets out what the Tories would do, without attacking the others - cutting the cost of politics, recall votes, etc.  He's clearly keen to seize back the mantle of change from Clegg.

2046, JGF: Clegg again goes after Ashcroft and the unions, there's a ton of material here for Brown and Cameron to swing back.

2025, PH: Perhaps the Big Question of the evening now: what will you do to clean up politics. Clegg immediately, and predictably, sets into the "old parties".

2043, PH: This is Brown's strongest spell in either of the debates.  He stresses Britain's history of tolerance - of other religions, of homosexuality, etc.  Adam Boulton says that we can move on "because of the degree of agreement".

2043, JGF: Clegg seems uncomfortable answering the question about the Pope's visit, uses his second answer to repeat his first one

2042, PH: Cameron says that the leaders agree on these issues. Clegg agrees with Cameron's admission of agreement. All very agreeable.

2041, JGF: Left-field question on the Pope's visit and child abuse, Brown surprisingly strong and empathetic.

2040, PH:
Unsurprisingly, all three say that they support the visit - but that the allegations are shocking and terrible. Clegg emphasises that he is "not a man of faith".  Brown praises all faiths for their "tolerance".

2038, PH: A controvesial topic now: if they were PM, would the leaders support the Pope's visit to Britain in view of the abuse allegations aimed at the Catholic Church.

2036, JGF: I suspect Cameron will be happy that the debate comes back to Europe again and again, it's an issue on which he's on the right side of public opinion.

2035, PH: Now Clegg repsonds. He gets around the issue quite well, saying that he thinks the special relationship is "important," but that we should be critical. I imagine that quite a few members of the public will agree with this line. He gets a nod from Brown, though, when he again questions the Tories' European associations.

2034, PH: Again, Brown labels Clegg as "anti-American".  Clegg can't reply until Cameron's had his say.  The Tory leader is direct, looking to camera, saying that more Treaties won't help.

2032, PH: Brown is setting about Nick Clegg more than I expected. Now he's attacking the Lib Dem's opposition to nuclear power. The clunking fist is in full effect this evening.

2031, JGF:
Brown urges everyone to get solar panels while taking a wind mill swipe at Cameron, remember the one on DC's Notting Hill home that he had to take down.

2029, PH: Brown tells a weird story about installing a wind turbine.  Cameron emphasises how he has changed his party to "blue and green".  Clegg says that he could do more in the home - but tries to recycle, etc. Yawn.

2028, PH:
Striking to see Brown and Cameron ganging up on Clegg in the last question - their ploy seemed to be to paint him as a naive young pup.  We're onto climate change now: what do the leaders actually do, personally, to help the environment.

2026, PH: Handbags alert. Brown tells Clegg to "get real" over Trident.  Cameron even gets a laugh out of the PM, by saying that "I never thought I'd say it, but I agree with Gordon".

2024, PH:
Ah, here's the heat. Cameron gets stuck into Clegg over Trident - arguing that you can't predict what the world will look like after.  Clegg claims that Trident is an outdated priority.  Perhaps its "old defence," like the "old parties"...

2022, PH: This question is low on conflict between the leaders - they are paying the topic due deference.

2019, PH: Brown is uncharacteristically convincing on the topic of Afghanistan - even if there's the backdrop of insufficient defence spending. His tribute to our troops draws an "I agree with Gordon" out of Cameron.

2018, PH:
Like last week, Clegg stresses cutting Trident.  He says this could pay for better equipment for our troops.

2017, PH: Afghanistan now: would we invade more countries to stop terrorism. Clegg says yes, in principle: "that's why I supported our move into Afghanistan. And why I opposed the illegal war in Iraq."  Brown and Cameron stress the importance of our presence in Afghanistan.

2015, PH: Oooh, Brown's getting personal.  Says that the other two leaders remind him of his sons "squabbling at bath time".  He adds, with more venom, that Cameron is "anti-European" and Clegg is "anti-American".

2013, PH: Brown brings up the Tories' grouping in the European Parliament.  Clegg asks how "being on the margins" can help Britain.  Cameron can't really get a response in.

2012, PH: A ding-dong over the Lisbon Treaty. Cameron says that the other two went back on their pledge for a referendum. They say that Cameron went back on his "cast iron" pledge subsequently - a caricature of the Tory position.  Cameron is standing up to it quite well though.

2010, PH: Brown is trying to play the statesman, saying that he's worked with Sarkozy, he's worked with Merkel, and so on.  He asks whether you could imagine Cameron heading a European commission.  Comes across as condescending.

2008, JGF: Brown immediately goes after Cameron on Europe, but no 'I agree with Nick' yet.

2006, PH:
First question on our involvement with Europe.  Cameron punchy, saying that we should be in Europe, but not ruled by Europe.  Clegg probably senses that this could be a tricky area for him - so he immediately admits that he worked in European politics, but that this showed him that Europe "isn't perfect," and "needs reform".  Brown plays up how he has "worked with Europe" to fix the banks, etc.

2004, JGF:
Laughter in the press centre as Brown declares that this might feel like a popularity contest and cheers when he says 'count me out' if this is based on style and presentation.

2003, PH: The opening statements first.  Brown immediately sets about defusing his presentational problems: he says that if you want PR, then he's not your man - but if you want "substance", then he is.  Hm.  Cameron says that last week demonstrated the country's desire for change - and, unlike last week, he namechecks the Big Society. Clegg says he's proud of British values but - guess what - the "old parties" have undermined them.  He ends by saying "We should not have invaded Iraq."

2000, PH:
And here we go. Smart studio for this second leaders' debate.

Stay tuned for live coverage from 2000.