Friday is dominated by the fallout from the
second of the televised debates between the main party leaders
as they tackled foreign policy. Initial polls, taken after Thursday night's clash, suggest the margins between the men were much tighter than their first encounter. There is also a continuing row - kicked off in the debate - over Conservative claims Labour candidates have been putting out "misleading" election leaflets about Tory policies. The British National Party launches its manifesto for the general election in Stoke-on-Trent. New data on the state of the UK economy published on Friday
shows GDP grew by 0.2% in the first three months of the year
- with all the parties using this as evidence that their opponents are wrong and their approach is right. See how the day
THE VIEW FROM ABROAD
China's Xinhua news agency
portrays Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg as the "current Golden Boy",
whose "political star keeps rising", following the second TV debate. Xinhua reports that with "hundreds of national and international media watching and waiting for the Clegg bandwagon to crash and burn, it kept on rolling", adding the long-standing two-party model of British politics "remains on course for the breakers' yard". The agency adds the sight of senior Labour figures rushing to defend Mr Clegg following negative headlines in the UK papers was a "clear sign... Labour now no longer believes it can win the election outright, and that it's best hope of staying in power lies in a coalition with the Lib Dems".
THE (LIGHT-HEARTED) VIEW FROM ABROAD
For a slightly different take on how the general election campaign is playing abroad, we cross the pond to the US, where Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (shown on
More4 in the UK)
has given its analysis of this campaign's historic first - the televised prime ministerial debates. The show's John Oliver - a Briton - glowed with pride as he introduced the first debate to Stewart. After giving his verdict on the opening sequence ("graphics are a little 1980s PBS"), Stewart's critique singled out the lack of "folksy mythology" from the leaders compared to US TV debates, before going on to dismiss the leaders' anecdotes ("his mother was a magistrate in Newbury?"). Oliver was able to regain the initiative though, by showing off the BBC's 3D election graphics - including the famous "swingometer". A gob-smacked Stewart's reaction - "I, I, want one..."
STRICTLY COME WHINE WITH ME
Strictly Come Whine With Me watches leaders' TV debate
Not content with the range of TV debate analysis across the UK media, BBC One's This Week decided it needed someone with a track record of judging other people's performances to assess how the three main party leaders fared. Step forward ex-Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Philips, who alongside broadcaster and former Tory MP Gyles Brandreth, film director Gurinder Chadha and writer Toby Young, watched the second TV leaders' debate and gave their views in This Week's Strictly Come Whine With Me.
"Cameron fights back", is the headline in the Daily Telegraph. In its sub-headings, the paper thinks Nick Clegg gave "another strong performance". As for Gordon Brown - "plenty of passion, but Brown still struggles".
Brown admits to weaknesses but insists in TV debate: 'I'm your man'" - that's the verdict on the front of the Financial Times. The paper says Mr Brown "made a dramatic appeal to the British public to let him stay in Number 10".
The Guardian says in its headline "Clegg survives the storm" saying the Liberal Democrat leader appeared to have scored a second success in the debate appealing to the country to dare to do things differently. The paper also says Gordon Brown had a much stronger performance.
FRIDAY'S QUOTES OF THE DAY
"Ninety minutes is a long time, I am sure I would start to say exactly what I thought." Mayor of London, Conservative Boris Johnson admitting it would be hard not to "put your foot in it" during a live TV debate. He said David Cameron had "aced" it.
"A couple of kids in short trousers ... running around saying Britain is broke..." Business Secretary Lord Mandelson's verdict on David Cameron and George Osborne, as he pays tribute to the prime minister's handling of the economic crisis.
"I think this general election campaign is now shaping up to be one of the most exciting general election campaigns in a generation." Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says the election race has been left wide open following the second televised debate, declaring: "All bets are off."
"When looking forward to the circumstances of a hung parliament, of course both the SNP and Plaid Cymru look forward to that circumstance with relish." SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson on the prospect of his party and Plaid Cymru exercising influence in Westminster on a "vote-by-vote" basis.
"We say Britain is full. It is the most over-crowded country in Europe and it is time to shut the doors." BNP Leader Nick Griffin at the launch of his party's manifesto in Stoke.
FIGURE OF THE DAY
4,000,000 - the total number of viewers who watched live the second televised prime ministerial debate, hosted by Sky News.
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