HISTORY will be made tonight when party leaders face-off in the first ever televised General Election debate.

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will discuss domestic policy live on ITV1 this evening.

The 90-minute debate in Manchester will be the first of three before polling day on May 6.

University of Huddersfield politics lecturer Dr Pete Woodcock will be watching with interest tonight.

He said: “We don’t think of Gordon Brown as a great orator, expectations are so low that he might come across surprisingly well.

“The pressure is on David Cameron, he needs this. He’s quite good at the PR side of politics, so this should be an arena that suits him.

“Nick Clegg should count himself lucky to be there. The chances of the Lib Dems forming a government after the General Election are virtually non-existent, yet he’ll be there next to the two potential prime ministers.”

Dr Woodcock believes the leadership debates are a bad idea.

He said: “They are one aspect of the growing focus on leaders. I don’t think it’s healthy, given that we’re supposed to be electing people to represent us in Parliament.”

Dr Woodcock also fears that the 76 rules of the debate – including no clapping – will stifle the event.

He said: “The rules have been drawn up for the benefit of the parties rather than the people watching. I think all these rules could lead to a tepid, sterile event.”

The first election debate is live on ITV1 tonight from 8.30pm.