Dave is winner on the night but Ed's ahead in new polls
To general incredulity, both party leaders said they could still win overall majorities. Think again
Ed Miliband trailed Cameron by six points – 44 to 38 per cent – according to the poll. Whether he would have done better without the stumble as he left the stage is open to doubt. He will probably be happy with a gap which is narrower than usual in personal poll ratings. Nick Clegg – boy hero of the 2010 leaders’ debates - came a poor third with 19 per cent.
The snap verdict matters less than the issues highlighted by the three leaders – particularly their answers about how the country might be governed after 7 May.
To general incredulity, both Cameron and Miliband insisted they could still win overall majorities. In reality a hung parliament now looks inevitable.
Cameron said he wouldn’t govern unless he could proceed with his promised in-out referendum on EU membership. Clegg was opaque about whether the Lib Dems would sign up to that but Lib Dem president Tim Farron tweeted that the Prime Minister “had effectively resigned” because of his stance on an EU referendum.
And The Times is reporting that any renewed deal between Cameron and Clegg “risks being scuppered by Liberal Democrats refusing to back a referendum”.
For his part Miliband suggested he would be willing to forego a Labour government if it meant having to do a deal with the SNP. As The Mole reports today, the thinking is that Labour can rely on the tacit support of the SNP because of the Nationalists’ fear of ever being seen to support the Tories.
Meanwhile, the polls still point to a de facto alliance between Labour and the SNP being the only way a majority can be created in the House of Commons
Labour leads in two new polls, both conducted after yesterday’s surprise Ipsos-MORI poll (which gave the Tories a five per cent lead) and before Question Time.
Panelbase has: Con 32 (up 1), Lab 34 (unchanged), Lib Dems 8 (up 1), Ukip 17 (u/c), Greens 4 (u/c).
YouGov has: Con 34 (down 1), Lab 35 (up 1), Lib Dems 8 (down 1), Ukip 12 (u/c), Greens 5 (up 1).
YouGov’s ‘nowcast’ based on recent polls averages puts Labour one point ahead of the Tories, 35 to 34 per cent. That would see 276 Labour MPs elected, 272 Conservatives, 24 Lib Dems and 52 SNP MPs.
The rest of us might be taking Monday off: party activists will not be.