PARTY leaders clashed last night in the first ever televised Election debate.
Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg took part in the historic event at Granada studios in Manchester.
The three leaders discussed the economy, immigration and crime during the live 90 minute dde4bate on ITV1.
Robert Lewis, a senior healthcare manager, asked the leaders how they would deal with the deficit without damaging economic growth.
Conservative leader Mr Cameron called for immediate spending cuts., saying : “We’ve got to remove the dark cloud of the deficit and it makes sense to start now.”
But Labour’s Mr Brown said the Conservative were wrong to demand spending reductions right away. “Once again, the Conservatives are showing there are a risk to the economy, “ he said.
Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg criticised the other party leaders for concentrating on cutting “pot plants and paper clips” in Whitehall rather than cancelling Trident, which he said would save taxpayers £100bn.
Gerard Oliver, a retired toxicologist from Cheshire, asked the leaders about immigration.
Mr Brown said Britain was “a tolerant country, a diverse country” and added that his government had put new controls on the number of immigrants.
Mr Cameron told the audience that immigration is: “Simply too high and needs to come down. The pressure on housing have been too great.”
Mr CLegg said the country need to restore exit controls and criticised Labour and Conservative governments for producing “tough talk” and “complete chaos” in immigration policy.
Jacqueline Salmon, an optician from Burnley, asked how places like her home town could be made safer.
Mr Cameron called for harsher sentencing, saying: “We need to send a very clear signal that if you cross the threshold and rob someone’s home, you are going to prison for a long time.”
Mr Clegg said: “We need more police on the streets, We would scrap the identity card scheme which would fund 3000 more police officers.”
Mr Brown defended his government, saying: “The police have got to spend 80% of their time on the streets. If you’re dissatisfied with the way police are pursuing your case, we will give you the right to take an injunction against the police.”
Throughout the debate, the three leaders referred to each other by their first names.
The discussion was generally civil, but Mr Brown did hit Mr Cameron early on with a clearly rehearsed line, saying: “You can’t airbrush your polices like you’re air brushed your posters.”
ITV news Alastair Stewart chaired the debate in front of a studio audience who listened in almost complete silence.
The three leaders will debate again next Thursday on Sky News before meeting for final time before the election on BBC1 on Thursday April 29.