Our election panel reacts to the TV leaders’ election debate

Party leader's election debate. Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire .

Party leader's election debate. Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire . - Credit: PA

The East Anglian Daily Times asked our election panel what they made of the party leaders’ election debate last night. Here is what they said:

Election 2015.

Election 2015. - Credit: Archant

Mike Western:

Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Milliband looked like dead men walking, the ghosts of politics past as they blamed each other for all the ills of the last 10 years.

All three remain wedded to a greater or lesser extent to austerity, with Cameron in particular gleefully sharpening his axe for even deeper cuts to public services although he won’t tell us where those cuts will fall.

He admitted during the debate that balancing the books was his overriding priority – China had The Great Helmsman, we have The Great Accountant.

Farage was happy to play the role of the dotty old buffer until the mask slipped with some unpleasant remarks about the cost of treating people suffering from HIV.

Leanne Wood, Nicola Sturgeon and Natalie Bennett were a breath of fresh air – politicians with the courage of their convictions putting forward alternatives to austerity which were relevant to the whole of the UK.

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Roll on proportional representation. Until then my trip to the ballot box will mean choosing the lesser evil, the best of a bad bunch.

Mark Sutcliffe:

My general view of the debate was that David Cameron had a pained expression and did not seem very comfortable at all.

He has tried to avoid direct debate with Ed Miliband right from the start. His technique seemed to consist largely of repeating himself.

I though it was quite interesting when Cameron and Clegg had a bit of a spat, it was a bit like divorcees wrangling over who did what wrong and right.

The fact is the record of this government is not that good but they are hoping to hide that behind a fig leaf of a few green shoots.

I thought the women party leaders did well and brought a much needed element of compassion to the whole thing especially when Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood told Nigel Farage he should be “ashamed of himself” for criticising AIDS sufferers for “health tourism”.

Farage basically blamed everything bad in today’s Britain on the EU and immigration – he’s a one trick pony but a dangerous one.

Ed Miliband continues to raise his profile and he made his position clear that he is for the ordinary working people of Britain rather than the vested interests of the Tories.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon certainly is a politician to be reckoned with.

It’s going to be the most interesting election of my life time. Perhaps the end of the first past the post system?

Colin Maunder:

So what did I learn by watching the debate? Two main things.

First, that we shouldn’t return to the era of single party governments.

I doubt that UKIP has a serious contribution to make. It’s obsessed by immigration.

But the other small parties – the Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dems – could clearly do a lot to moderate the policies of whichever of the big parties gets most seats. They did well in the debate and I hope the do the same in May.

Second, that we need more women at the top of politics, just as we do at the top of business.

Whatever the question, Cameron and Miliband kept trying to sell their brands. The women and Nick Clegg gave answers.