Final Leaders' Debate Highlights

The words and pictures that swung the debate

Mea culpa

"There's a lot to this job. And as you saw yesterday, I do not get all of it right. But I do know how to run the economy in the good times and in the bad."

Gordon Brown's opening statement

Trust me on the economy, stupid

DC: "Our economy is stuck in a rut and we need change to get it moving. We have to reward work and tackle welfare dependency; fix our banks ... and get them lending again. We have to start making things again, it's no policy to borrow from the Chinese and buy goods made in China. We've got to get value for money in our public services."

GB: "Britain is now on the road to recovery. Shrink the economy now as the Conservatives want to do, and they risk your job, your living standards, and your tax credits."

NC: "We need to be frank about where cuts are needed – so that we can protect things like schools and hospitals. We need fairer taxes, so that you don't pay any income tax on your first £10,000."

Why not be honest on cuts?

NC: "None of the political parties have spelt out all the details. We've set out much greater detail than any other party – £15bn on of savings. I really disagree with David Cameron and Gordon Brown: you can't fill the black hole with a few savings on pot plants and paper clips."

GB: "We are not going to allow the frontline National Health Service, or schools or policing to be cut. We will find the cuts in other areas."

DC: "We say roll up your sleeves now – let's save waste where we can to stop the taxes. It's the right thing to do."

Taxing matters

GB: "They [the Tories] will give an inheritance tax cut to the 3,000 richest people in the country of £200,000. That's the same old Conservative party – tax cuts for the rich and cutting the child tax credits for the very poor."

DC: "With the mess left by Gordon and Labour, where out of every £4 the Government spends, one is borrowed, it's not possible to make great big tax giveaway promises. Even if it would be a lovely thing to do, you can't. What we've said is let's try to stop the one tax that's going to hit the lowest-paid people and that's the national insurance tax."

NC, challenging DC on his inheritance tax policy: "That's the most creative justification I've ever heard for giving tax breaks to double millionaires."

Coming over 'ere...

GB: "We have banned unskilled workers from outside Europe and we have a list of occupations we want reserved for people in Britain."

DC: "Immigration has been too high for too long. There needs to be a cap."

NC: "They are here, whether we like it or not, they want to come out of the shadows and pay taxes. Gordon Brown, you can't pretend you can deport people when you don't know where they are. Get real."

Rubbish analogy of the evening

DC: "Banks should not be behaving like casinos, taking wild bets."

NC: "High-risk casino investment banking."

Don't listen to these two

GB: "I hate to enter into private grief but both of them have got this wrong."

NC: " ...the two old parties... "

Ronald Reagan memorial soundbite

NC: "Here they go again... "

Random smiles

1 (Gordon Brown)

Please kill Gordon!

DC: "What you're hearing is desperate stuff from someone in a desperate state."

DC: "Last week in these debates he tried to frighten people, and he's trying again... Gordon Brown has got to stop misleading families in this country like he's been misleading older people and cancer patients."

Snap judgements

ComRes/ITV News: DC 35, NC 33, GB 26

Times/Populus: DC 38, NC 38, GB 25

Angus Reid: DC 36, NC 30, GB 23

YouGov/The Sun: DC 41, NC 32, GB 25

ICM/Guardian: DC 35, GB 29, NC 27

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