The TV debate reaction: What candidates and readers think about last night’s action

The seven party leaders. Top row (L-R): Natalie Bennett, Green Party, Nicola Stugeon, SNP, and Ed Mi

The seven party leaders. Top row (L-R): Natalie Bennett, Green Party, Nicola Stugeon, SNP, and Ed Miliband, Labour. Bottom row (L-R): David Cameron, Conservative, Nigel Farage, Ukip, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrats and Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru. Photos: PA Wire - Credit: PA

Last night’s leaders debate has left opinion polls divided with no clear winner coming to the front.

Immigration, balancing the books and optimism for the future dominated the discussions.

Leanne Wood, for Plaid Cymru, got the first cheer of the night from the audience as she accused Ukip’s Nigel Farage of using “scaremongering rhetoric” as he claimed 60 per cent of HIV diagnoses in the UK comes from immigrants.

Chairwoman, Julie Etchingham, controlled the debate coolly and brought what could easily have been a seven-man shouting match under control.

Recorder readers expressed their thoughts through social media with Alan Fenn writing on Facebook he thought Ed Miliband for Labour won with Nicola Sturgeon for the Scottish National Party (SNP) coming in a close second.

Joe Dobisz thinks “no one won” while Andy Nicholson added: “I know who didn’t win, the British public.”

Sandra Lawrence, tweeting with the handle @MrsSarnL, said she was “even more confused than ever” after the debate came to a close.

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Steve Hackett, @SrHack123, added: “The country would collapse in months under those clowns.”

So what do the politicians think?

Your local parliamentary candidates have given the Recorder their views about what happened in last night’s debate.

Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative candidate for Romford, said: “I genuinely believe David Cameron did a good job last night, despite being up against five leaders trying to out left-wing each other.

“He remained cool and calm and rightfully argued the economy will not be safe with Labour. ”

On the other hand, Sam Gould, who is fighting for the Romford seat with Labour, said: “Despite there being so many leaders at the debate last night, Ed Miliband rose above them to show just why David Cameron is scared of debating him one-on-one.

“Ed outlined Labour’s better plan for Britain, helping working people by taking on those at the top.”

Ian Sanderson, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Romford, said: “Well-conducted, although it did become a shouting match at one or two points.

“It was good to see three female party leaders taking part.

“I thought it went some way to demonstrate the diverse nature of the United Kingdom, which is not reflected in one party Conservative governments.”

The blue candidate for Hornchurch and Upminster, Dame Angela Watkinson, said: “The stark differences between the calibre and policies of the seven party leaders were laid out clearly for voters watching the debate.

“David Cameron was head and shoulders above the others, showing leadership, competence and statesmanship.”

Melanie Collins, the Green candidate fighting for Hornchurch and Upminster, said: “It was good to see all the political parties represented on the same television programme.

“I thought Natalie Bennett (Green), Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood really outshone the boys, who mostly relied on the same old rhetoric that we’ve heard so many times before.”

Jonathan Mitchell, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the east of the borough, said: “Nick Clegg did more to put the others on the spot about their policies, he was confident and forthright, a man aware of the criticisms, and clear and honest about what the Liberal Democrats will do in a Government.

“He came across as a Leader who has had, and will in the future have, a real influence on any coalition partner, with the responsibility, fairness and the guts to get the job done.”

Paul McGeary, competing for Labour in Hornchurch and Upminster, said: “I thought Ed did an excellent job of presenting the keys issues and how they would look like under a labour government.

“As Ed said if you want a country run for the benefit of the ordinary working people then vote Labour if you want a country that works to benefit the rich vote Conservative or Ukip.”

Lawrence Webb, for Ukip in Hornchurch and Upminster, said: “It was clear from these debates that voters have a clear choice Ukip or the others. “One of the issues that concerns the voters of Havering most is immigration and it was clear from the debate only Ukip has a clear strategy to control it.”

What do you make of it all? Is anything clearer as we get closer to May’s election?

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For a full list of candidates in Havering visit the Recorder’s election 2015 website.