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Queen’s speech 2016: 21 bills including plan to ‘disrupt extremists’– live

Well this will be interesting I am sure. God knows what horrors are lurking among this.

The nation waits with baited breath, or maybe actually no one gives a shit, but actually you should.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Queen’s speech 2016: 21 bills including plan to ‘disrupt extremists’– live” was written by Andrew Sparrow, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 18th May 2016 16.26 UTC

5.26pm BST

Afternoon summary

  • Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has criticised the measures in the Queen’s speech, saying that building an equal society requires “an active government”. Speaking in the Queen’s speech debate, he said:

If anyone wants to deliver a more equal society, an economy that works for everyone and a society where there is opportunity for all, it takes an active government to do it, not the driverless car heading in the wrong direction that we have with this Government at the present time.

He criticised the government for promoting austerity as a “political choice”.

When you cut adult social care it has an impact on National Health Service accident and emergency departments. When you saddle young people with more debt you impede their ability to buy a home or start a family. When you fail to build housing and cap housing benefit then homelessness and the number of families in temporary accommodation increases. When you slash the budgets of local authorities then leisure centres close, libraries close, children’s centres close. When you close fire stations and cut firefighters’ jobs, then response times increase and more people are in danger of dying in fires. This austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity, and it’s a wrong choice for our country made by a Government with the wrong priorities – and it’s women that have been hit hardest by these cuts.

And he started his speech by stressing the important of avoiding war.

July will mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, an episode of frankly needless carnage and horror. This week marked the centenary of the Sykes-Picot agreement where Britain and France divided up the Ottoman empire into spheres of influence, arbitrarily establishing borders that have frankly been the cause of many conflicts ever since. These two events should remind us in this House of two things. Firstly, that decisions we take have consequences, and it is our armed forces that face the consequences of failed foreign and military policy.

  • David Cameron has claimed that the measures in the Queen’s speech show he is leading a “progressive, one nation government”. He told MPs the government was making “bold choices”.

For children, we make the choice to rebalance the system in favour of faster adoption so more children get a loving and stable home. For care leavers, we choose to put them first for training and jobs so the most disadvantaged get a better chance to make a good life for themselves. And for all our young people, we offer the chance to do National Citizen Service. For school leavers, we make the choice to extend educational opportunity and allow the creation of new universities. For low-income families, we choose to offer new support to build up their savings through the first ever Help to Save scheme. For those who want to get on the housing ladder, we’re choosing to build a million new homes. And we choose to deliver the biggest reform of our prison system for a century, knocking down the old, outdated prisons and radically reforming education and rehabilitation of offenders. This is a Queen’s Speech that combines economic security with extending life chances for all, it’s the Queen’s Speech of a progressive, one nation Conservative Government.

He also included a joke about his own EU referendum campaign scaremongering.

[Caroline Spelman] referred to her work as Church Estates Commissioner and everyone in this House knows she is a deeply committed Christian. This would have come in handy during her time in Defra when she had to deal with floods, droughts, food shortages and even disease. Indeed, everything short of a plague of locusts, which of course I will be predicting in my next speech on Europe.

  • Neil Hamilton, leader of the Ukip group in the Welsh assembly, has caused offence by calling two female assembly members (AMs) “concubines”. He was referring to the Lib Dem AM Kirsty Williams and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood. He said:

I’m afraid these two ladies have made themselves political concubines in Carwyn’s harem. What a gruesome concept that will be.

Williams expressed shock at “his blatant sexist language”.

That’s all from me for today.

Thanks for the comments.

4.58pm BST

Here is my colleague Denis Campbell’s story about the junior doctors’ pay deal.

4.55pm BST

The government and the BMA seem to have reached a deal on junior doctors’ pay, the BBC’s Chris Mason reports.

4.43pm BST

Cameron v Corbyn – Verdict

Cameron v Corbyn – Verdict: “I am not particularly good at or interested in this theatrical-riposte stuff,” Jeremy Corbyn told the New Yorker recently for a long and insightful profile that is well worth reading. Parliamentary debates almost always have a theatrical element, and that is particularly true of the Queen’s speech debate, where the opening contributions are expected to have the qualities of a classic best man’s speech – a kernel of supercharged sincerity, bundled up in a package of first-class jokes. Corbyn is right to acknowledge that this is not his natural environment, but actually the beginning of his speech was very good indeed. He started with a reference to this being the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and of the Sykes-Picot agreement, and he made a profound point about how the colonial carve-up of the Middle East illustrates how decisions taken by politicians have consequences that can last for years. It sounded as if he is already starting to prepare his speech for the Iraq report debate. His tributes to Caroline Spelman and Phillip Lee were also very funny. And then he made some strong points about the Queen’s speech, in particular when he accused the government of viewing poverty simply as a matter of personal behaviour.

But then it deteriorated quite badly. To a large extent it was just a matter of Corbyn going on too long. An MP can hold the attention of the House, even when a majority of those in the chamber are hostile, provided he or she is interesting or engaging, but Corbyn lost his audience, and his refusal to take interventions did not help. Also, he did not have one core message that stuck. Cameron’s claim to lead a progressive, one nation government may be on that does not survive scrutiny, but Cameron hammered it out at the start of his speech, at the end, and several times in between. That is how successful communication works.

Otherwise Cameron’s speech was standard fare from someone who may be losing his party, but who does have total command of the House. His Corbyn-bashing passage included some half-funny jokes, but there were probably too many of them, and it came over as gratuitous and borderline nasty. To his credit, though, he did include at least one joke against himself. He said that his next pro-EU speech would include a warning about a plague a locusts, in an admission that Boris Johnson was not entirely wrong to mock him for threatening bubonic plague in the event of Brexit.

I will post quotes from the speeches shortly.

Updated at 4.47pm BST

4.19pm BST

Cameron has now finished.

I’ll post a summary and verdict soon.

4.16pm BST

Cameron said that he’d got his staff to call Corbyn’s office and it was only open 2pm to 4pm, joking that he knew the Labour leader wanted a shorter working week but that was a bit much. That doesn’t appear to be true. Constituents of Jeremy Corbyn can ring his Islington North office 10am to 5.30pm Monday and Friday or 10am to 12.30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. His parliamentary office does not appear to have a voicemail message at all.

4.14pm BST

Mike Gapes, the Labour MP, asks Cameron to apologise for the racist campaign the Tories ran against Sadiq Khan.

Cameron says that he looks forward to meeting Khan. He says Khan has a role to play helping the government tackle extremism.

4.13pm BST

Cameron turns to extremism. He says the UK is one of the most integrated countries on earth. He says he hopes there will be all-party support for tackling extremism.

Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the home affairs committee, asks if Cameron agrees that internet companies should do more to take down extremist content.

Cameron says he agrees. Originally internet companies said they could not do this. But they have changed their stance, and become more cooperative, he says.

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, says David Anderson, the government’s reviewer of terrorist legislation, has warned that the extremism bill could be counter-productive.

Cameron says he will listen to all advisers. But he says the leader of the Liberal party should recognise the need to stand up for liberal values. It is not just violent extremism that should be condemned, he says.

4.08pm BST

Cameron says Labour had 13 years to tackle prisons. But it took a reforming Tory government to put it on the agenda, he says.

4.07pm BST

Cameron says believing in opportunity means never writing anyone off. And that is why prison reform is so important. For too long prisons have not tackled rehabilitation properly.

The Green MP Caroline Lucas says, if prison reform is important, why have budgets been cut by a third. And given so many people are in jail for drug offences, will the government consider drugs reform?

Cameron says it is important to get away from the idea that reform always needs extra spending. And it is important to get drugs out of jails, he says.

4.04pm BST

The SNP’s George Kerevan asks why the word productivity did not occur in the Queen’s speech.

Cameron says everything in the Queen’s speech, like improving access to superfast broadband, and improving schools and universities, is about increasing productivity.

4.03pm BST

Cameron says, after a strong family, the greatest driver of a strong family is a good school.

He says the Queen’s speech will improve schools. There will be a new national funding formula, and failing schools will be turned into academies without delay. This is the policy of a progressive, one nation government, he says.

He says bold university reforms, including fees, have created more opportunities for young people.

3.57pm BST

Cameron says when he became prime minister some social workers were refusing to place black and minority ethnic children with white families. He has addressed this, he says. He says adoptions are up 72%.

3.56pm BST

Labour’s Debbie Abrahams asks why the government is going back on its promise to produce a white paper on support for disabled people going back to work.

Cameron says the government is not going back on this.

3.55pm BST

Cameron says he was not sure whether Corbyn would turn up. He once described the Queen’s speech as a ridiculous 18th century performance. And he once said that, when the Queen dies, the monarchy should call it a day. Cameron says it is more likely that, when Corbyn quits, the Labour party will call it a day.

He says his office called Corbyn’s office, and got an answerphone message saying the phones were manned from 2pm to 4pm.

He says there were rumours about Corbyn being challenged for the leadership by Margaret Hodge. He says he was looking forward to being able to make jokes about Labour moving from Islington to Barking. But now it looks as if Labour is moving to Barking without a leadership contest, after this afternoon’s performance.

He says after the local elections Corbyn gave a speech saying Labour had “hung on”. This will go down as one of the great rallying cries, he says: “Go back to your constituencies and prepare to hang on.”

3.51pm BST

Cameron is now, as is customary, paying tribute to Caroline Spelman and Phillip Lee.

He says Spelman used to work for NFU. That meant when she went to the environment department, the civil servants had to deal with a minister who understood agriculture.

And he pays tribute to Lee. With reference to Lee’s comments about PR (see 2.54pm), he says maybe this makes him a suitable candidate for the whips’ office, where he could carry out sensitive operations.

3.45pm BST

Cameron is now summarising some of the measures in the Queen’s speech. It is the Queen’s speech of a progressive, one nation Conservative government.

3.44pm BST

David Cameron’s speech

David Cameron says Corbyn spoke for 41 minutes without taking an intervention.

He says he has never seen that before.

Was there no Labour MP or SNP MP with a question. He says he knows the SNP have other things on their mind …

3.42pm BST

Corbyn says people expect firms and people to pay their taxes in the UK. He says that aggressive tax avoidance undermines our public service.

He ends by saying the government is a driverless car heading in the wrong direction.

Tory MPs greet this by sarcastically shouting “more”.

3.41pm BST

This is from the Press Association’s Jack Maidment.

3.40pm BST

He says the recent Hillsborough inquest shows that the police must never be above scrutiny.

3.39pm BST

He says just a few weeks ago David Cameron was referring to refugees as “a bunch of migrants” and a “swarm”. He says those words were wrong, and Cameron should apologise. He says refugees are human beings just like you and me.

3.38pm BST

Corbyn says the government must put human rights at the centre of its foreign policy.

3.38pm BST

John Bercow, the Speaker, has just had to intervene to stop the heckling, which has been getting louder. Some MPs have been trying to intervene, but Corbyn is not taking interventions. Bercow says he is under no obligation to.

But Corbyn seems to be losing the attention of the House. This is from the Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

3.36pm BST

He says Labour is “very sceptical” about having more competition in the water industry.

3.34pm BST

Corbyn says Labour welcomes moves to devolve powers to deregulate bus services. Labour will try to expand these powers more widely, he says.

3.32pm BST

He says the government cannot stand the example of popular, successful public services, like the BBC.

3.31pm BST

Corbyn says the Land Registry is under threat of privatisation. He says in the last two parliaments this option was considered, and rejected. He says he hopes the same thing will happen again.

3.30pm BST

Corbyn says the tide of violent attacks in prisons is rising, and needs to be addressed.

3.30pm BST

Corbyn says Labour welcomes prison reform.

He has visited prisons in Denmark and Norway, he says. Their approach works. It requires more funding and more staff. But it makes a difference to reoffending rates, he says.

He says two prisoners every week are taking their lives in our prisons. That is a truly horrifying statistic, he says.

3.29pm BST

Corbyn says Labour is in favour of more apprenticeships, provided they are high quality.

But apprenticeships should not be used to enable employers to avoid having to pay full wages.

3.28pm BST

Corbyn says students are more in debt than ever. Labour will not give the government any support when it comes to raising tuition fees.

This is a tax on learning, as George Osborne himself said in 2003.

3.26pm BST

I’m back, taking over from Jamie. I’ve got an internet connection working again.

The Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg has just raised a point of order, saying Corybn should be taking interventions given that he has been speaking for more than 20 minutes.

John Bercow, the Speaker, says that although it is customary for speakers to take interventions when giving long speeches, they do not have to.

3.23pm BST

Corbyn is now turning to the Government’s controversial proposal to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.

The Human Rights Act has brought the European Court of Human Rights into British law, empowering British citizens.

We will defend our Human Rights Act as we defend the human rights of everyone in our country and all those who benefit from European Court of Human Rights.

I understand the Home Secretary is the driving force behind tearing up the Human Rights Act, which is strange as she has strong European credentials.

3.19pm BST

Corbyn says “most worrying proposal of all is decision to redefine poverty and deprivation”.

It’s all about instability, addiction and debt, all of which you can blame on individuals, Corbyn says.

You don’t tackle poverty by moving the goalposts.

3.17pm BST

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech

Hi, we’re experiencing a few technical problems in Westminster so I’m just going to pick up coverage of Corbyn’s response to the Queen’s speech temporarily.

After some traditional joviality, Corbyn is now attacking chunks of the Government’s forthcoming legislative agenda.

Corbyn says prime minister is failing to deliver key pledges on the so-called Northern Powerhouse, building homes and developing a digital infrastructure.

It takes commitment to fund them.

Updated at 3.44pm BST

3.16pm BST

Bill of rights

Alan Travis, our home affairs editor, and Owen Bowcott, our legal affairs correspondent, have been taking a closer look at the revised plans for a UK bill of rights. Here’s what they make of it:

There has been a significant shift in the wording on Downing Street lobby notes on the promise to introduce a British bill of rights. Hours are spent on the wording of these documents so a change can be crucial. In the 2015 Queen’s Speech promised to introduce a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act.

This has now changed. Instead a British Bill of Rights is still promised but its purpose will be “to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework”. All talk of replacing or scrapping the Human Rights Act has been dropped. For the first time there is also an explicit commitment that “these rights will be based on those set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, while also taking into account our common law tradition.”

The absence of further detail was no surprise. Launch of the draft consultation has, it is assumed, been postponed until after the referendum campaign. Having the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, a committed Brexiteer, present arcane arguments about weakening the UK’s relationship with European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in the middle of a campaign over the role of the European Union in Brussels is deemed too politically complicated.

The delay also avoids provoking fresh rows within the cabinet about how to redefine the relationship between the UK courts and European judges. There was no mention of the mooted Sovereignty Bill, an initiative supposedly developed to curb the powers of the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg and originally designed to keep Boris Johnson within the remain camp.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, believes the change in wording on a British Bill of Rights is significant. He said:

I hope that this is the start of a climb-down from the government on their previous plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. Liberal Democrats blocked Tory attempts to scrap the Act in Government and are leading the fight to save the Human Rights Act. I am clear this is one of the most important pieces of legislation to protect the interests of British citizens. Liberal Democrats will work with people in all parties to make sure that these rights are not undermined or diluted.

3.01pm BST

Lee says he is humbled by the thought of what the wartime generation did.

His grandfather was in the RAF, he says.

And he recalls a Polish patient who attended his surgery wearing his wartime medals. He told Lee how he had fought with the British during the way. Lee says he asked himself if his generation would show the same values.

The closest he has come to fighting is as a doctor battling ageing and obesity, he says.

He say MPs from the whole House will want to support the fight against extremism.

He says he mentioned the space industry in his maiden speech in 2010.

He turns to the EU. MPs like him have had to worry about two men, one with blond hair (Boris Johnson) and another with glasses (Michael Gove) asking when they are coming out.

He says his view is that we should not come out – at least until the semi finals.

Phillip Lee.
Phillip Lee. Photograph: BBC

2.54pm BST

Phillip Lee’s speech

Phillip Lee is speaking now.

He says it is not the first time he has followed Spelman. She leads the parliamentary skiing team.

He says he is not the son of a bus driver. But his father did once drive a milk float, he says.

You wait for years for the son of a bus driver to come along. Then two come along at once, he says. (That is one of Khan’s jokes, about him and Sajid Javid.)

He says he is a doctor. Speaking about the importance of PR, he says it is important to realise that, for a doctor, PR refers to something else: a medical examination carried out with rubber gloves on, involving gel and asking the man to cough.

He advises Cameron, if he is speaking to an audience of doctors, not to tell them that he used to do PR and enjoyed it.

2.47pm BST

She says she also welcomes the plan to speed up adoptions. She introduced a private members’ bill on this, she says.

And she says she thinks children who have been in care continue to need support after they reach the age of 18.

She wishes Sadiq Khan well in his new job.

And she says her advice to MPs who have suffered setbacks is always to not give up. This seems a veiled reference to the fact that she was sacked by David Cameron. This is from Huffington Post’s Paul Waugh.

And this is from my colleague Gaby Hinsliff.

Updated at 2.55pm BST

2.42pm BST

Spelman says when she first became an MP in 1997 only 18% of MPs were women.

She says she is glad the figure is higher now.

Having women contribute their perspective can make a real difference, she says. For example, when public transport is being discussed, men are most interested in cost and efficiency. But women think about safety, she says.

She particularly welcomes what the Queen’s speech says about life chances. She pays tribute to Iain Duncan Smith for first pushing this agenda. And she says his successor, Stephen Webb, has the life experience to take this forward.

Caroline Spelman.
Caroline Spelman. Photograph: BBC

2.37pm BST

Caroline Spelman’s speech

Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, is proposing the loyal address to the Queen.

The Queen’s speech debate always starts with speeches from two government backbenchers, a veteran and a relative newcomer, who propose and second the loyal address.

They are expected to be funny.

2.33pm BST

Bercow says in this session he is going to enforce more strictly the time limits that are supposed to apply to frontbench speakers during statements.

2.31pm BST

Queen’s speech debate

The Queen’s speech debate is about to start.

As is customary, John Bercow, the Speaker, starts by reading a statement about the obligations of MPs.

2.08pm BST

Lunchtime summary

  • Johnson has accused Lord Heseltine of “synthetic outrage” after Heseltine said yesterday that Johnson’s reference to the EU being like Nazi Germany was “obscene”. See (11am.)
  • An opinion poll has shown Remain with an 18-point lead over Leave. (See 12.33pm.)

1.55pm BST

Children’s charities condemn ‘life chances’ promised in Queen’s speech as ‘meaningless’

Children’s charities said the focus on “life chances” was meaningless without a concerted parallel attempt to tackle child poverty, which is expected to soar in the next four years as cuts to benefits hit home.

They voiced concern that the new life chances strategy would place much less emphasis on low family income as a measure of deprivation – looking instead at less easily defined factors including family background, addiction and debt.

The speech annouced that: “To tackle poverty and the causes of deprivation, including family instability, addiction and debt, my Government will introduce new indicators for measuring life chances.”

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “The Government’s welcome interest in improving life chances will mean little without a concerted effort to tackle child poverty, which is projected to rise significantly in the coming years.

“Reducing the number of families struggling with debt and surviving on low incomes must be at the centre of any new strategy.”

A more powerful strategy to improve life chances of the most disadvantaged children would involve the scrapping of the four-year freeze on children’s benefits, and cuts to support for working families in Universal Credit, he said.

Chief Executive of 4Children, Imelda Redmond CBE, added: “It is vital that the impact of low income is not forgotten. While the commitment to a higher wage, lower welfare economy is the right goal – the facts remain that of the 2.3 million children living in poverty, almost two thirds are in working households.”

Updated at 2.10pm BST

1.49pm BST

And Channel 4 News’ Gary Gibbon’s take on the Queen’s speech is worth reading too. Here is an extract.

The plan had been to hold this Queen’s Speech after the referendum on the EU but the government felt there was a danger it would look like it had nothing to do. The compromise is to come up with what Iain Duncan Smith has called “not the most extensive” Queen’s Speech, with much “parked” or “jettisoned” so as not to upset the voters ahead of the EU vote. This, he says, is because it is designed to get the government to the end of June not far beyond.

I asked if he wasn’t, so to speak, passing water on the government’s parade. He said the ceremony would be nothing more than pageantry unless we get back sovereignty from Brussels. So talk of a one-day ceasefire was premature.

Gibbon also says the Queen doesn’t like the noise from the helicopters that film her carriage on its way to parliament for the live TV coverage.

1.46pm BST

Here is the Guardian panel verdict on the Queen’s speech, with contributions from Polly Toynbee, Rafael Behr, Deborah Orr and Matthew d’Ancona.

And here is an extract from Rafael’s contribution.

There is something cruel about forcing the elderly monarch to pronounce campaigning platitudes as if they were her own words. Convention has HRH delivering the government’s agenda, but there is no constitutional obligation to make her chew stale soundbites from last year’s Conservative manifesto. “My government will use the opportunity of a strengthening economy to deliver security for working people.” It sounded like the poshest hostage video ever. (Given the historical background of civil war and restoration, that’s pretty much what it is.) But this year there was an additional level of artifice.

When the Queen said “my government”, she was talking about a provisional administration – the one that assumes power on 24 June on condition that Britain has just voted to remain in the EU.

Updated at 1.46pm BST

1.37pm BST

Matthew Hancock, the Cabinet Office minister, was on the World at One too. He was asked if the government really has dropped plans for a sovereignty bill, as Iain Duncan Smith claimed this morning. (See 9.59am.) Hancock sidestepped the question. “Let’s wait until the outcome of the referendum,” he said.

1.34pm BST

Higher education bill

While the u-turn on turning all schools in to academies by 2020 has dominated the attention of most in education circles, the Queen’s speech also confirmed plans for a higher education bill that would support the establishment of new universities. Sally Weale writes:

The bill comes hot on the heels of the government’s higher education white paper which was published on Monday. The government briefing notes published alongside the Queen’s speech says it will be “the biggest supply-side reforms to the higher education sector for a quarter of a century”.

The new legislation will open up the sector to new providers and make it easier for them to award degrees and achieve university status, allowing them to compete with existing universities. The government wants to boost competition within the sector, but critics have warned it could put at risk the reputation of UK universities.

Jonathan Clifton, associate director for public services at Institute for Public Policy Research, warned that the US higher education system showed how allowing profit-making companies to establish universities could “end in tears”.

“This policy will only be successful if it enables genuinely innovative types of higher education institution to be established – rather than helping private companies to make a quick buck,” he said.

Cameron’s broader goal – of widening access to universities for young people – has been a long-standing aim for the prime minister. Back in January he accused his old university, Oxford, of “not doing enough to attract talent from across our country” and noted that Oxford accepted just 27 black students in a single year. He promised then to create new legislation to shame elite universities into improving diversity – and here it is.

Under the new bill, all universities will have to publish detailed information about application, offer and progression rates, broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background to “shine a spotlight” on how well universities are performing in terms of social mobility. There has been widespread support for this – and for the stronger focus on teaching quality in the new bill – but there’s still concern about other measures which many in the sector fear will impact on potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Updated at 2.10pm BST

1.31pm BST

On the World at One Joshua Rozenburg, the legal commentator, has just pointed out that last year’s Queen’s speech notes said the government would bring forward a British bill of rights to “replace” the Human Rights Act. A year later the bill still has not appeared, but today the Queen again promised “proposals” for a British bill of rights. But, Rozenburg points out, this time the notes talk about the bill “revising” the Human Rights Act, not replacing it, implying there has been some sort of climbdown.

1.21pm BST

Cameron says Queen’s speech comes from ‘progressive, one nation government’

You can read the Queen’s speech, and all the accompanying backgrounds notes issued by the government, here.

The key document is this one (pdf), the 86-page background briefing paper.

And here is an extract from David Cameron’s introduction to the Queen’s speech briefing pack. In it, Cameron repeatedly stresses his belief that he is running a one nation government.

In the past six years, whether in education or welfare, this government has consistently demonstrated that we will take on difficult arguments, make difficult choices and undertake big and bold reforms to spread opportunity. This Queen’s speech is no different. At its heart are major changes to adoption and social work, so children in care are not doomed to a life of poverty. There are reforms to schools, so excellence that comes with more teacher freedom is spread to every community. There is an expansion of higher education, so just as we uncapped the number of student places we now encourage the new universities that will help educate the next generation. And because this Government sees the potential in everyone, we will finally undertake the long-overdue change that our prisons need. No longer will they be warehouses for criminals; we want them to be incubators of changed and reformed lives.

We also know that we cannot deliver opportunity for all and extend life chances, unless we also tackle the menace of extremism. We should be proud of the fact that today Britain is already one of the most successful multi-racial, multi-faith democracies anywhere on earth. But we must also recognise that extremists – both violent and non-violent – are trying to drive our country apart. So this Queen’s speech stands up for our liberal values by taking on the extremists with new powers to disrupt their activities, while protecting young people in unregulated schools from those who preach a message of intolerance and separatism …

This is a Queen’s speech that uses the strong foundations of our economy to make a series of bold choices that will improve lives across the country. It is a one nation Queen’s speech from a progressive, one nation, Conservative government.

1.17pm BST

Counter-extremism bill

The counter-extremism bill, which was once cast in the leading role in David Cameron’s “legacy” legislative programme, is still far from ready to be introduced to Parliament.

If anything the Tory’s manifesto plans have actually gone backwards. At the time of the Conservative party conference in October 2015, the prime minister and home secretary unveiled what appeared to be firm plans to tackle the jihadist and extremist threat in Britain. Detailed measures were outlined to ban extremist groups, to issue orders disrupting individual extremists and powers to close down premises used to support extremism.

But now that is all back in the melting pot. Instead, the bill outlined in the Queen’s speech promises to “introduce a new civil order regime to restrict extremist activity, following consultation.”

Whitehall sources confirm that the crackdown has been delayed because government lawyers have struggled for more than eight months to find a “legally robust” definition of extremism, which would withstand the first legal challenge on freedom of speech grounds from those it seeks to ban.

Theresa May, who once wanted Ofcom to have the power to censor British programmes containing extremist material before they were broadcast, has also been forced to accept a further watered down power. A once trumpeted campaign for British values is also waiting on a report from Louise Casey on integration.

The bill will now simply proposes that Ofcom should “close loopholes” to protect consumers who watch internet-streamed television content from outside the EU on Freeview.

What remains is a drive to intervene in unregulated part-time schools or madrasas where “extremist adults” are active and using the Disclosure and Barring Service to prevent the “entryism” by extremists working in the public sector or with children.

1.14pm BST

BuzzFeed’s Jim Waterson has tweeted some video of David Cameron trying unsuccessfully to make small talk with Jeremy Corbyn on their way to listen to the Queen.

1.11pm BST

Children and social work bill

And here is a summary of the children and social work bill from the Press Association.

A shake-up of adoption rules has been unveiled to try and move more children more quickly from the care system into family life.

The children and social work bill, unveiled in the Queen’s speech, is aimed at reducing delays in placing children with new adoptive parents.

The new law is also intended to improve social care standards across England.

Ministers insist the bill will “tip the balance in favour of permanent adoption where that is the right thing for the child. And drive improvements in the social work profession by introducing more demanding professional standards, and setting-up a specialist regulator for the profession.”

The legislation is intended to give people leaving the care system more help via a new covenant to ensure local authorities act as a better “corporate parent” to help them when they make the transition into adulthood and independent living.

Care leavers will get the right to a personal adviser up to the age of 25 to help them move into adulthood as part of the overhaul.

Court and local councils will have to “take better account” of a child’s need for stability when making adoption decisions as part of the changes.

A specialist regulator for social work will also be established to improve standards and training.

The government says reform is needed because one in four people in prison have been in care.

1.11pm BST

Children and social work bill

The Queen’s speech included pledges to ensure faster adoption for children in care, improving the standard of social work and creating better opportunities for children raised in the system. On the detail of the children and social work bill, Patrick Butler writes:

It’s not the first time the prime minister has promised to speed up the adoption process. Cameron’s been saying he would “tear down the barriers” since at least 2012, with mixed results. The Queen’s speech is an attempt to re-launch an adoption policy that after early success, has badly stalled.

Putting prime ministerial weight behind adoption – Cameron declared that there was “no more pressing issue” for government – initially produced spectacular results. Adoption rates rose to record levels of 5,000 a year. But by late 2014, the gains started to go into reverse. A landmark family judgement by the then president of the family division, Sir James Munby, was clear that ministerial wishes to speed up the process should not override the law – which stated that adoption should be a last resort, and that approval for taking a child from a parent required the highest level of evidence, properly considered.

Munby identified a “recurring inadequacy” in too many adoption applications made by local authorities. He also argued the new 26 week target ignored the fact that “the issues are too grave, the stakes for all are too high, for the outcome to be determined by rigorous adherence to an inflexible timetable.”

His ruling triggered a fall off in local authority adoption applications, and adoption placement orders granted by the courts. Pro-adoption commentators have argued that local authorities have overacted to the ruling. But that has not stemmed the retreat.

Critics point out that the focus on adoption should not obscure the bigger picture: that austerity and rising poverty, coupled with massive cuts to family intervention services, have accelerated the numbers of children being taken into care. Fixing flaws in the adoption process is fine; but investing to prevent youngsters coming into care and adoption proceedings in the first place, should be the priority.

1.04pm BST

Criminal finances bill

Here is a summary of the criminal finances bill from the Press Association.

New powers to clamp down on tax evasion and money laundering have been unveiled in the Queen’s speech.

The criminal finances bill will make it an offence for companies to fail to stop staff facilitating tax evasion.

The measures are also aimed at making it easier for the courts to recover criminal assets.

The system of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) is to be improved to better use public and private resources, ministers said.

More than 350,000 SARs were filed with the UK Finance Unit and National Crime Agency last year, with the government recovering £224m from money laundering and terrorist financing in 2015-16.

1.01pm BST

Neigbourhood planning and infrastructure bill

This is from the Press Association on the neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill.

The process for the compulsory purchase of homes and land to make way for new developments will be made faster under sweeping changes to planning laws aimed at addressing the housing crisis and building vital infrastructure.

The changes set out in the Queen’s speech will “further empower local communities” and make the planning process “clearer, faster and fairer”, officials said.

The legislation will pave the way for the Land Registry to be sold off and put the National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.

Other measures contained in the Queen’s speech will give councils in England the power to retain business rates – and potentially cut them – while elected mayors will be given London-style powers to franchise local bus services.

The planning moves will ensure that pre-commencement conditions are only imposed by councils where they are “absolutely necessary” to prevent them slowing down or stopping the construction of new homes once planning permission has been granted.

The reforms to compulsory purchase are aimed at speeding up the process, which can result in drawn-out legal rows as people try to hang on to their homes or challenge the compensation offered to them to make way for major schemes.

The explanatory document setting out the measures announced by the Queen indicates they will reform the way compensation is decided, basing values on the market rate without the proposed development.

The neighbourhood planning and infrastructure bill will “make the compulsory purchase order process clearer, fairer and faster for all those involved” in England and Wales, officials said.

12.56pm BST

The Queen had to use a lift for the first time on her way to the House of Lords chamber, the Press Association reports.

For the first time, the monarch, who turned 90 last month, used a lift rather than stairs to enter Parliament for the State Opening.

Buckingham Palace said the “modest adjustment” to arrangements had been made for “the Queen’s comfort”.

By taking the lift, the Queen avoided the 26 steps of the royal staircase at the Sovereign’s Entrance.

12.54pm BST

And Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, is saying exactly the same. He said:

Only one year in and this Conservative majority is running out of steam.

Thirty announcements, but 28 have been made before. Weekend prisoners, announced by a weakened government.

The Queen’s speech is a stop-gap to give the warring factions of the Tory Party a couple of days’ respite from the referendum. It does nothing to address the key issues at stake.

12.53pm BST

Labour says Queen’s speech shows government ‘running out of steam’

Labour says the Queen’s speech shows that the government is “running out of steam”. This is from Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio.

It’s clear from today’s Queen’s speech that this is a failing Tory government running out of steam. The flagship measure on prisons reform may seem familiar because it is.

The Tories have been promising a rehabilitation revolution for nearly a decade but the reality is on their watch prisons have become dangerously overcrowded and understaffed, with rising levels of violence and drug abuse.

The idea that David Cameron can seek to portray his programme for government as ‘one nation’ is nothing short of ludicrous. This is a Tory government that has cut taxes for millionaires while making everyone else pay more.

And what we’ve seen from the various U-turns and backtracking in recent weeks, this is a government that is weak, divided and unable to get its business through parliament.

12.49pm BST

Here are extracts from Sadiq Khan’s first Speak to Sadiq phone-in as London mayor.

Sadiq Khan makes his debut LBC appearance as mayor of London – video

12.45pm BST

Here is my colleague Heather Stewart’s story on the Queen’s speech.

12.44pm BST

Modern transport bill

With its glimmer of a future that contains roads filled with driverless cars, widespread drone use and a commercial spaceport in the UK, the Modern transport bill was perhaps the most eye-catching announcement in the Queen’s speech. On its significance, though, Gwyn Topham writes:

The Modern Transport Bill should allow Britain to continue to invest and exploit its unusual advantages as a testbed for driverless cars – partly as a country that failed to ratify an international convention that explicitly demands a driver in the front seat.

But grey areas remain, and promised moves such as allowing driverless cars to be insured under normal policies will give more clarity as the likes of Volvo roll out further trials on public roads. Manufacturers of autonomous vehicles believe the biggest delays to their introduction won’t be in technology, but in creating public acceptance and amending the rules of the road, which this bill should address.

Pilots have welcomed news of regulation on drones but may be jumping the gun: the government appears again stressing to be the opportunity for UK industry to ride the boom in manufacture and operation, rather than rein in their use. ATOL protection for holidays booked online will also be updated, in line with recent EU agreement.

The Buses Bill could extend franchising powers already promised to directly elected mayors to other local authorities on a case by case basis – potentially a triumph for regions which have tried to wrest back control from bitterly opposed transport firms such as Stagecoach – and demand operators release data on routes and fares for apps, improving the lot of passengers. But campaigners will want to see assurances about funding, with bus services outside urban areas badly hit since government grants were cut.

Updated at 12.46pm BST

12.33pm BST

Ipsos MORI poll gives Remain an 18-point leave over Leave

Ipsos MORI has released a poll today showing Remain 18 points ahead of Leave. As the Evening Standard reports, Remain is pulling ahead because of a shift from Tory voters.

Today’s survey reveals the Remain campaign has pulled ahead to its biggest lead in the past three months — with 55 per cent for staying in and 37 per cent for leaving the EU.

This is mainly due to a marked shift among Conservative supporters. The Tory swing suggests the Prime Minister’s intense campaigning is having a significant impact on his party’s followers.

This appears to confirm a trend shown in the Telegraph’s ORB poll yesterday.

The publication of the poll seems to have an impact on the value of the pound, which shot up as soon as the news come out. This is from Bloomberg’s Robert Hutton.

12.30pm BST

Education for all bill

The Queen didn’t actually say “academies” – perhaps not surprising after the government’s embarrassing U-turn on a commitment to force all schools to become academies by 2022. But in the detailed summary of the speech, it says there will be new legislation to “expand” the academies programme in the poorest performing local authority areas.

Its a significant climbdown for education secretary Nicky Morgan, though she has since insisted the original aim still stands, without the hard deadline. The government will focus on converting schools within under-performing councils – a definition of which will be subject to a consultation and a vote by MPs.

Meanwhile, many will welcome legislation to reform the national funding formula by which many schools, particularly those in rural areas, currently feel they lose out to urban schools which receive substantially greater funds. London schools however have a lot to lose in the reorganisation.

Some early reaction from Allan Foulds, president of the Association of School and College Leaders, suggests schools feel that for all the talk about academies, the immediately challenges facing them are still budget constraints and a shortage of teachers.

Foulds also expressed disappointment that there was no mention of the teaching recruitment crisis. “The government has not so far announced measures which go far enough or fast enough in addressing the teacher recruitment crisis, she said. “It must do more to promote and incentivise teaching as a great career.”

Updated at 2.11pm BST

12.20pm BST

Digital economy bill

“Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband,” the Queen said, trailing the government’s Digital economy bill. A good step forward and a big vote winner, Miles Brignall writes:

Compensation for a lost broadband connection would be hugely welcomed by households up and down the country – particularly anyone who’s been through it recently. A guaranteed minimum speed of 10Mbs would also see a big upgrade for millions of households in rural areas.

Over the last decade, UK households have become so reliant on broadband, that many would opt lose their water supply before their internet connection. Currently it can takes days and even months to get BT Openreach, Virgin, or the other telecoms companies to fix a problem – a nightmare for those who work at home or run a small business.

Currently, only the water and gas and electricity companies are required to compensate customers if the supply fails, and it is the company’s fault.

But how much would you get? Electricity firms currently pay £75 if the power was out for longer than 12 hours, and £35 for each following 12 hours – assuming that fewer than 5,000 homes were affected. Similar such penalties would likely force the much criticised Openreach, and others, to get their act together and get people back on line within the day. Could be a big vote winner – particularly among those with teenage kids.

12.19pm BST

Here are some pictures from the ceremony.

The Queen travels by carriage from Buckingham Palace to parliament
The Queen travels by carriage from Buckingham Palace to parliament. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP
Yeoman warders take part in a traditional “Ceremonial Search” in the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening of Parliament.
Yeoman warders take part in a traditional “Ceremonial Search” in the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening of Parliament. Photograph: Richard Pohle/AFP/Getty Images
Soldiers parade as the Queen travels in a carriage from Buckingham Palace towards the Houses of Parliament.
Soldiers parade as the Queen travels in a carriage from Buckingham Palace towards the Houses of Parliament. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP
David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn walk towards the House of Lords for the Queen’s speech.
David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn walk towards the House of Lords for the Queen’s speech. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images
Yeoman of the Guard at the Sovereign’s entrance.
Yeoman of the Guard at the Sovereign’s entrance. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/AFP/Getty Images

12.15pm BST

Pensions bill

On the pensions bill, which was promised in the Queen’s speech to bolster protections for those saving for retirement, Hilary Osborne writes:

The government had been under pressure to include a pensions bill addressing the issue of “master trusts” – schemes which are being used by many employers for auto-enrolment of workers. At the weekend, the work and pensions select committee warned that the lack of regulation around the schemes could result in savers losing money and trust in the system being damaged.

The bill will also address high exit charges faced by some retirees when they try to cash in their pensions under freedoms introduced in 2015 – that is good news for savers who want to move their money around.

However, some will be disappointed. There is nothing in it for the women who have seen their state pension age rise and have been campaigning for the government to offset this in some way. And the former pensions minister, Steve Webb, now director of Policy at pensions firm Royal London said the bill was “disappointing”. He said “urgent action” was needed to get employees saving more than the statutory minimum of 8% of their pay.

Updated at 2.11pm BST

12.07pm BST

NHS (overseas visitors charging) bill

Here is the Press Association on the NHS (overseas visitors charging) bill.

Overseas visitors and migrants face a tough clampdown on accessing NHS care, with more powers for hospitals to recover costs.

The new NHS (overseas visitors charging) bill, which is to be published before the Parliamentary summer recess, will tighten up the rules around eligibility for free NHS care.

It means fewer European visitors will qualify for NHS care, while more overseas visitors and migrants would be charged for NHS services the government says they are not entitled to.

An independent report for the Department of Health in 2013 suggested overseas visitors and migrants cost the NHS about 2 billion a year.

Under the new bill, only UK residents who “live here lawfully and make a financial contribution to this country” will get free NHS care, according to details in the Queen’s speech.

The new legislation will extend the current range of services for which the NHS is able to charge and there will also be more powers for hospitals to recover the full costs from overseas patients.

At present, emergency care, GP visits and family planning are exempt from charges. People suffering life-threatening illnesses and some other diseases are also exempt.

The government has already introduced an immigration health surcharge (IHS) for non-European Economic Area nationals who apply for a visa to stay in the UK for six months or longer.

12.04pm BST

Counter-extremism and safeguarding bill

This is from the Press Association on the counter-extremism and safeguarding bill.

New measures to protect children and restrict the activities of fanatics will be rolled out in a crackdown on extremism.

The counter-extremism and safeguarding bill will include powers to intervene in unregulated schools which “teach hate” and “drive communities apart”

Vetting rules are expected to be adapted to enable employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children.

Ministers will consult on rolling out a civil order regime to “restrict extremist activity”, as well as new powers to enable the government to step in when councils fail to tackle extremism.

The legislation aims to help deliver on the Tories’ manifesto pledge to tackle all forms of extremism, so “our values and our way of life are properly promoted and defended”.

The bill follows a programme to tackle extremism and radicalisation announced last year.

It proposed introducing banning orders for extremist organisations who use hate speech in public places, but whose activities fall short of proscription, and new powers for authorities to close down premises used to support extremism.

12.03pm BST

Updated at 12.46pm BST

12.00pm BST

Queen’s speech – Key points

Here is my colleague Rowena Mason’s guide to the key points in the Queen’s speech.

11.54am BST

The Press Association has filed a story on Dennis Skinner’s heckle, rounding up some of his previous, and rather funnier, contributions.

Dennis Skinner received cheers from some Opposition MPs as he shouted “Hands off the BBC” in the Commons.

The Beast Of Bolsover’s annual quip at Black Rod is almost as much part of the pomp and circumstance as the Queen’s procession to Parliament, although he opted to stay silent last year in a break from State Opening tradition.

In 2014, the Labour MP shouted “coalition’s last stand” as MPs were summoned to hear the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords.

Skinner’s remark follows the publication of a government white paper on the future of the BBC, which sets out a long-term plan for the corporation, including maintaining the licence fee.

Last year, despite apparently winning his battle with the SNP over his high-profile seat in the Commons, Skinner stayed quiet.

Traditionally, the Bolsover MP shouts out as Lieutenant General David Leakey instructs elected parliamentarians to attend the Queen in the Lords.

He won widespread laughs in 2013 when he shouted “Royal Mail for sale. Queen’s head privatised” in reference to the planned Royal Mail privatisation.

In 2012 he angered Tory MPs by drawing attention to the country’s economic difficulties, saying: “Jubilee year, double dip recession, what a start.”

And in 2006, as the film The Queen was released, Mr Skinner joked: “Have you got Helen Mirren on standby?”

11.52am BST

Here is my colleague Anushka Asthana’s take on the Queen’s speech.

Updated at 12.00pm BST

11.49am BST

MPs are now heading back to the Commons.

The sitting will then be suspended until 2.30pm.

11.49am BST

The Queen ends by saying that “other measures” may be laid before parliament.

11.49am BST

She says there will be a referendum on the EU, and the government will bring forward a British bill of rights.

The government will uphold the sovereignty of parliament and the primacy of the Commons, she says.

And she says the government will implement the powers in the Scotland Act, and establish a strong devolution settlement in Wales.

Analysis: It is interesting to note that she sounds quite non-committal about the British bill of rights, promising to bring forward “proposals” for a bill, not necessarily actual legislation. The reference to the primacy of the Commons seems to be a reference to the plan to curb the power of the Lords to block secondary legislation.

11.45am BST

She says the government will continue to modernise the law covering investigatory powers.

Analysis: The investigatory powers bill is the legislation that will update surveillance legislation, building on the draft “snooper’s charter” bill that was dropped in the last parliament.

Updated at 1.34pm BST

11.44am BST

She sets out some of the government’s foreign policy priorities, including spending 2% of national income on defence.

Analysis: The government does not legislate very much on foreign affairs, but they have to be included in the Queen’s speech.

11.43am BST

She says national citizens service will be placed on a permanent statutory footing.

Analysis: Cameron is personally committed to national citizens service, which is almost the last vestige left of his big society idea, and this legislation will expand it. Some £1.2bn is being earmarked for it.

11.43am BST

She says the government will legislate to prevent radicalisation and to tackle extremism.

Analysis: The government promised an extremism bill in last year’s Queen’s speech, but it never actually arrived. This time it is promising a counter-extremism and safeguarding bill, covering much of the ground flagged up last year. One reason that legislation has taken so long is that coming up with a legally robust definition of extremism has been extremely difficult. The bill will create new powers to “disrupt extremists” and to “restrict extremist activity”.

11.42am BST

She says the government will legislate to reform prisons.

Analysis: Some of the key elements in the prison and courts reform bill were previewed overnight. Here is the Guardian’s story.

11.41am BST

She says a bill will lay the foundations for education excellence, and to ensure more people can further their education.

Analysis: There are two education bills in the programme. An education for all bill will extend academies, although Cameron has shelved his original plan to force all schools to become academies in the face of protests from Tory MPs. The higher education and research bill may turn to be more radical. As well as enabling new “high quality” universities to open, it will also require universities to publish detailed information about the class, ethnic and gender background of applicants and students to put pressure on those that “need to go further and faster on social mobility”.

Queen Elizabeth, reading her speech
Queen Elizabeth, reading her speech Photograph: Sky News

Updated at 11.47am BST

11.41am BST

She says the government will introduce new meaures to tackle life chances, and to impose a levy on the soft drinks industry.

Analysis: George Osborne announced plans for the sugar tax in his budget, and there will be legislation in the finance bill. There will also be a separate lifetime savings bill that will legislate for two schemes, aimed at the poor and the young, that will encourage them to save by ensuring the government matches some of the money they put in.

11.40am BST

She says a bill will be introduced to ensure children can be adopted without delay.

Analysis: Cameron has repeatedly announced his desire to ensure that children in care can get adopted more quickly, and this will be one of the aims of a children and social work bill, which will change the factors must take into account in adoption cases. There will also be a “care leavers’ covenant” saying what people are entitled to expect when they leave care.

11.39am BST

She says there will be legislation to ensure overseas visitors pay for their NHS treatment.

Analysis: The NHS (Overseas visitors charging) bill may turn out to be one of the most controversial measures in the Queen’s speech, because doctors and hospitals are unenthusiastic serving as revenue collectors.

11.38am BST

She says legislation will be introduced to take on tax evasion.

Analysis: A criminal finances bill will toughen up the UK’s anti-money laundering rules, as well as making it a criminal offence for firms to fail to prevent staff from facilitating tax evasion. Cameron wrote about this in a Guardian article recently.

Updated at 11.40am BST

11.37am BST

She says:

My ministers will ensure the United Kingdom is at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles.

Analysis: This is a reference to the modern transport bill, a well-trailed measure that will create a legislative framework for the roll-out of driverless cars, as well as introduce new rules for drone and allowing the development of the UK’s first commercial spaceports. There will also be a bus services bill, which will give directly elected mayors new powers over bus services and ensure passengers all over the country can get real-time information from apps about timetables. And the local growth and jobs bill will implement George Osborne’s plans to allow councils to retain all the business rates they collect.

11.37am BST

She says:

Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband.

Analysis: The government will introduce a digital economy bill that will enshrine Cameron’s proposal for fast broadband connection to be treated as an essential service which everyone can demand as of right. It will also ensure that consumers automatically get compensated when things go wrong with their broadband. A better markets bill will also make it easier for consumers to switch providers.

11.37am BST

She says that to support the economic recovery and to create jobs and more apprenticeships, legislation will be introduced to ensure Britain has the infrastructure that businesses need to grow.

Analysis: This a reference to the national planning and infrastructure bill which is mostly concerned with speeding up the planning system (“excessive pre-commencement planning conditions” will be tackled, apparently), but it will also include significant changes to compulsory purchase rules, designed to make them fairer, which will obviously be of interest to anyone affected by HS2.

11.36am BST

The Queen’s speech

The Queen says:

My government will use the opportunity of a strengthening economy to deliver security for working people, to increase life chances for the most disadvantaged and to strengthen national defences.

My ministers will continue to bring the public finances under control so that Britain lives within its means, and to move to a higher wage and lower welfare economy where work is rewarded.

Analysis: The opening of the Queen’s speech always amounts to a mini government “mission statement”. During the general election David Cameron made “security” (economic and national) his key selling point, but after his election victory he pledged to rule as a “one nation Conservative” and the focus on “life chances” shows he has not abandoned this ambition.

11.34am BST

David Cameon and Jeremy Corbyn lead MPs into the Lords.

Cameron seems to be trying to make conversation, but Corbyn is looking away, and doing his best not to take any notice.

11.33am BST

Black Rod is in the chamber. He summons MPs to the Lords.

And Dennis Skinner comes out with his customary heckle.

Hands off the BBC.

Dennis Skinner’s Queen’s speech heckle.

Updated at 11.39am BST

11.31am BST

The Queen is on the throne in the Lords now. She asks the Lords to sit down.

Now Black Rod is heading for the Commons chamber to summon MPs to the Lords.

This is when we normally get the Dennis Skinner joke.

11.30am BST

Here is the Queen heading for the Lords chamber.

Queen in the Lords.
Queen in the Lords. Photograph: BBC

11.22am BST

Here is the scene in the House of Lords where the Queen has arrived, but has yet to process into the Lords chamber.

House of Lords
House of Lords. Photograph: BBC

11.17am BST

The Queen is arriving in parliament now.

11.02am BST

The Queen is on her way.

Queen heading for parliament
Queen heading for parliament. Photograph: BBC

11.00am BST

Johnson accuses Heseltine of ‘synthetic outrage’

Boris Johnson has responded to Lord Heseltine’s attack on his EU rhetoric yesterday. Speaking to reporters outside his home, Johnson accused Heseltine of “synthetic outrage”.

The most important thing is that everybody should cut out the synthetic outrage about things I haven’t said and stick to the facts.

The facts are that the EU is now producing about 60% of the law made in this country, it’s changed out of all recognition from what we signed up to in 1972, it is making it impossible for us to control our borders and it costs about £350m per week.

The only safe option is to vote Leave on June 23.

For the umpteenth time, it is worth pointing out that the UK Statistics Authority had described that £350m per week figure as “potentially misleading”.

10.47am BST

Here is Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, on the unemployment figures.

It is welcome that unemployment has fallen slightly, after a sharp rise in the last set of figures. However, people continue to struggle through a Tory decade of record low pay, which is resulting in earnings growth remaining far too slow.

So the Government should use today’s Queen’s speech to avert their plans to make matters even worse and ruin work incentives. They could do this by adopting Labour’s call for a full reversal of the cuts to universal credit that will result in 2.5m working families being left over £2,100 year worse off.

10.36am BST

Sadiq Khan, the new mayor of London, has been on LBC this morning. Here are some of the highlights. These tweets are from LBC’s Theo Usherwood.

10.19am BST

Here is Frances Crook, head of the Howard League for Penal Reform, on the suggestion that new tagging technology could enable prisoners to be allowed out to work during the week.

10.08am BST

Here is Stephen Crabb, the work and pensions secretary, on the employment figures.

These are another record-breaking set of figures, with more people in work than ever before and the unemployment rate is the lowest in a decade at 5.1%.

More people in work means that more families across the UK are benefiting from the security of a regular wage and the fulfilment that employment brings.

But the job is not done, which is why our welfare reforms, such as universal credit, are making sure that it always pays to be in work.

9.59am BST

Iain Duncan Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, is complaining that the government has abandoned its plans for a sovereignty bill to assert the sovereignty of parliament. Responding to this story in today’s Sun, he said:

Many Conservatives have become increasingly concerned that in the governments helter skelter pursuit of the referendum, they have been jettisoning or watering down key elements of their legislative programme. Whether it is the Trade Union Bill or the BBC Charter proposals, it seems nothing must stand in the way of winning the referendum.

Yet to compound that, now it appears the much vaunted sovereignty bill, key to the argument that the prime minister had secured a reform of the EU, has been tossed aside as well. The fear in government must be that as no one in Britain buys the idea that the EU has been reformed, the sovereignty bill would draw the public’s attention back to that failure.

After all if the EU Court of justice is supreme and can strike down our laws, the British people would have just laughed at the idea Britain can be sovereign unless we leave the EU.

David Cameron floated the idea for a sovereignty bill, which would supposedly assert the supremacy of parliament over EU law, when he was hoping to persuade Boris Johnson to back the Remain camp. Johnson had been calling for legislation of this kind. But, in practice, it was very hard to see how it would work – EU law does take precedence as long as the UK remains in the EU – and as soon as Johnson came out for Leave, Cameron lost interest in the idea. It is no surprise that the proposal has been shelved.

9.44am BST

Unemployment falls

Here are the headline unemployment figures.

  • Unemployment fell by 2,000 to 1.69m between January and March.
  • The claimant count fell by 2,400 to 737,800.
  • Average earnings increased by 2% in the year to March, 0.1% up on the previous

The full details are in the Office for National Statistics bulletin here.

9.35am BST

On the Today programme this morning Chris Grayling, the leader of the Commons, repeatedly refused to say he agreed with Boris Johnson’s comment about the EU being similar to Nazi Germany in its ambitions. He was asked seven times if Johnson was right to make the comparison, but all he would say was that Johnson was speaking as “a historian”. He said:

What Boris was talking about was the reality that there is a drive towards greater political integration.

Boris was making an historical analogy from a historian talking about a whole range of actions since the Roman empire.

He is a historian making a comment in his own words. My view is that we should be most concerned about integration in the European Union.

(The idea that Johnson is a “historian” will surprise purists. Johnson studied classics and, although he has written books about ancient Rome and Winston Churchill, they are not noted for their academic rigour.)

9.09am BST

The Queen’s speech is supposed to be one of the landmark moment’s in the government’s legislative calendar. It is the day when the Queen comes to the House of Lords to open parliament and to deliver a speech setting out the government’s legislative programme. A state of the union address, it isn’t. It is little more than a list of bills coming up in the next 12 months. There is no other day in the news diary when a speech that is inherently so dull attracts so much media attention.

Even as a guide to what is coming up in parliament, the Queen’s speech is an unreliable guide. Governments are free to introduce legislation and hold votes on matters not in the Queen’s speech, and these are the measures that often produce the most parliamentary drama. There was nothing in last year’s Queen’s speech about relaxing the Sunday trading laws or the planned sweeping tax credit cuts, proposals that produced two of last session’s most significant government defeats. And there was nothing about bombing Islamic State in Syria either, another of the great Commons flashpoints from last year. Last year’s Queen’s speech also promised an extremism bill, which never arrived.

And this year, with Number 10 100% focused on the EU referendum battle, the Queen’s speech is expected to be relatively uncontentious. David Cameron cannot afford to antagonise his backbenchers even more than he is already doing – at least, not now.

Still, the Queen’s speech does provide some guide as to what is coming up. And the ceremony is excellent (if you like that sort of thing). And we will get a debate in the Commons this afternoon with major speeches from Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn.

Here is our preview story.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: Unemployment figures are published.

10am: Sadiq Khan, the new London mayor, hosts his first Speak to Sadiq phone-in on LBC.

10am: Nicola Sturgeon is sworn in as Scotland’s first minister.

10.30am: The BBC begins its coverage of the state opening of parliament.

11.25am: MPs assemble in the Commons to be summoned to hear the Queen’s speech.

Around 11.30am: The Queen delivers her speech.

2.30pm: MPs begin the debate on the Queen’s speech. The Conservative backbenchers Caroline Spelman, the former environment secretary, and Phillip Lee open with short speeches proposing and seconding the loyal address. Then there speeches from Corbyn and Cameron.

I will be focusing mostly on the Queen’s speech today. I will post a summary at lunchtime and another in the afternoon.

If you want to follow me or contact me on Twitter, I’m @AndrewSparrow.

I try to monitor the comments BTL but normally I find it impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer direct questions, although sometimes I miss them or don’t have time. Alternatively you could post a question to me on Twitter.

If you think there are any voices that I’m leaving out, particularly political figures or organisations giving alternative views of the stories I’m covering, do please flag them up below the line (include “Andrew” in the post). I can’t promise to include everything, but I do try to be open to as wide a range of perspectives as possible.

Updated at 9.13am BST

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Democracy v Psychology: why people keep electing idiots

An interesting read. But the real problem in my  opinion is simply that people tend to  either vote simply to feather there own nests or are fooled by alarmist propaganda. Some of course do not think at all and perhaps thats the majority 🙂 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Democracy v Psychology: why people keep electing idiots” was written by Dean Burnett, for theguardian.com on Thursday 2nd April 2015 06.05 UTC

Politicians. Their reputation is very poor. In fairness, this is largely their own fault, but it would be foolish to assume every politician is like this. If they were, the whole infrastructure would collapse before you could say “can I claim this on expenses?” Still, everyone assumes they’re despicable, so always assume the worst.

Politician enacts a bad policy? They’re a terrible person. They change their mind and reverse it? They’re weak and not fit to lead. Politicians promise improvements (cut taxes, increase spending)? They’re obviously lying. Politicians promise to do something unpopular (raise taxes, cut spending)? A cast-iron guarantee it will happen. It’s a lose-lose situation, so why do they bother? Many politicians are clearly in it for themselves, but there surely are plenty who really do want the best and just put up with the negative opinions they get.

So, for the record, not all politicians are idiots (although your definition of idiot may vary). But plenty are. The US seem particularly afflicted with them; Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, these people were/are contenders for the presidency. And the archetype George W Bush WAS the president. For 8 YEARS. The man whose idiotic musings managed to sustain businesses had a nuclear arsenal at his command.

Not that the UK can feel smug, with the amount of demonstrable idiocy in our own system. Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Grant Shapps, Jeremy Hunt, David Tredinnick, a ridiculous Labour party (complete with mugs), the rise of UKIP, and the beloved bumbling mayor Boris Johnson.

Plenty of people are quick to point out that Boris Johnson is actually very intelligent/dangerous, that he’s only pretending to be a buffoon. But this underscores the point; an intelligent person has to feign stupidity to achieve political success.

What’s going on here? Logically, you’d want an intelligent person who understands the best approach and methods for running a country in the best possible way. But no, people seem drawn to demonstrations of questionable intellectual abilities. There are a wide variety of ideological, cultural, social, historical, financial and other factors involved, because politics incorporates all of these things, but there are also some known psychological processes that may contribute to this phenomenon.

Confidence inspires confidence

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the Relationships Alliance Summit 2014 at the Royal College of GP's in central London
Politicians always try to appear confident, like Prime Minister David Cameron, pictured here confidently exaggerating the size of his… stimulus package. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

Confident people are more convincing. This is has been demonstrated in many studies. Most studies focus on a courtroom setting, and suggest a confident witness is more convincing to a jury than a nervous, hesitant one (which obviously has worrying implications for justice), but it can be seen elsewhere. It’s a phenomenon used-car salesmen and estate agents have exploited for decades. And politicians are clearly aware of it, hence all the media training and PR management; any politician that doesn’t come across as assured and confident gets (metaphorically) destroyed. So confidence is important in politics.

However, the Dunning-Kruger effect reveals that less-intelligent people are usually incredibly confident. More intelligent people, by contrast, aren’t at all. Self-appraisal is a useful metacognitive skill, but one that requires intelligence; if you don’t have much of it, you don’t consider yourself flawed or ignorant, because technically you don’t have the ability to do so.

So if you want an intrinsically confident person to publically represent your political party, an intelligent person would be a bad choice in many ways. This can backfire though; studies have shown that when a confident person is shown to be wrong/lying, they are then considered far less reliable or trustworthy than an unconfident person. This may explain the negative image of politics, which is mostly a series of confident individuals making big promises and failing miserably to keep them. That sort of thing really puts people off.

Politics is complicated

Ed Miliband, leader of The Labour Party eating a bacon sandwich with red sauce during a visit to New Covent Garden Flower Market on the eve of the European
Many things about politics are complex, like how to eat a bacon sandwich properly in public. Photograph: Ben Cawthra/REX

Effectively running a country of tens of millions, all of which have different requirements and demands, is an incredibly complicated job. There are just so many variables that need to be considered. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to condense all this into a convenient soundbite for use with the modern media, so personalities tend to come to the fore more often. And the less intelligent personalities are more confident, so are more persuasive, and so on.

People are often put off by intellectual and complex subjects and discussions in any case. They may have no experience with the issue, or may find it too daunting to want to engage with, because doing so successfully would require a lot of time and effort. But politics, particularly democracy, requires people to be involved.

Personality studies suggest that many people demonstrate goal orientation, a “disposition toward developing or demonstrating ability in achievement situations”. Feeling that you are actively influencing something (e.g. an Election) is a powerful motivator, but if some knowledgeable type starts spouting big words about interest rates or health trust deficit management, this is going to alienate those who don’t follow or grasp such things. So if a confident person says there’s a simple solution or promises to make the big complicated thing go away, they’re going to seem far more appealing.

This is also demonstrated by Parkinson’s law of triviality, where people will spend far more time and effort focussing on something trivial that they do understand than something complicated that they don’t. The former offers far more scope for contribution and influence. And people do love trivial things, ergo less-intelligent people condensing down the big issues into brief (but inaccurate) snippets is a potential vote-winner.

People like to relate

This file photo taken on May 1, 2002 shows US President George W. Bush welcoming Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew (L) to the Oval Office for a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC
Many people said they felt they’d like a beer with George W. Bush. Admittedly, not everyone was specific about where they’d like it to be inserted. Photograph: TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

One of the often-cited qualities of George W Bush was that people felt they could “have a beer with him”. Ergo, they felt they could relate to him. By contrast, elitism is a negative quality. The idea that those running the country are outside the norms of society is alarming to many, hence constant efforts by politicians to “fit in”.

The majority of people are prone to numerous subconscious biases, prejudices, stereotyping and prefer their own “groups”. None of these things are particularly logical and invariably are not supported by actual evidence and reality, and people really don’t like being told things they don’t want to hear. People are also keenly aware of social status; we need to feel we are superior to others in some way to maintain our sense of self-worth. As a result, someone more intelligent saying complicated things that contain uncomfortable (but accurate) facts isn’t going to appeal to anyone, but someone demonstrably less-intelligent is not challenging to someone’s perceived social status, and if they’re going to say simple things that support inherent prejudices and deny uncomfortable facts, then so much the better.

It’s an unfortunate situation, but it just seems to be the way people’s minds work. There’s a lot more to it than what’s mentioned here of course, but including that would make the whole thing more complicated, and that’s no way to get people to like something, as should be obvious by now.

Dean Burnett thinks democracy would be perfect if it weren’t for all the people involved. He’s on Twitter, @garwboy

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Cameron has edge over Miliband in TV battle, Guardian/ICM poll shows – live

Lets get the word out there and seriously think about what how we vote in May.
You might feel that your safe and secure and nothings going to touch you, but circumstances change. Lets get out of this race to the bottom.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Cameron has edge over Miliband in TV battle, Guardian/ICM poll shows – live” was written by Andrew Sparrow, for theguardian.com on Friday 27th March 2015 00.48 UTC

12.33am GMT

All our coverage of tonight’s TV battle – in one place

‘Are you alright?’ ‘Yes – are YOU alright?’ Photograph: Getty Images

We’ve just launched a Comment is free round-up with commentary on tonight’s Cameron/Miliband non-debate showdown from Polly Toynbee, Jonathan Freedland, Matthew d’Ancona, Hugh Muir Gaby Hinsliff and Aditya Chakrabortty. Here’s an extract from Polly’s article.

Miliband had just enough chance to mention what he cares about most – inequality, decent pay and fair chances. Will that carry him through? Without pointing a finger at the government for the rich by the rich, the contrast between their chosen issues was there for all to see. Here was the personality choice too – a highly polished professional politician pitched against an amateur, boyish enthusiast, lacking the gloss and the experience. Which quality is valued more by the alienated undecideds remains uncertain.

You can read all six articles here.

And here is a round-up of all the other articles on our site on the showdown.

And here is some video

That’s all from me for tonight.

Thanks for the comments.

Updated at 12.48am GMT

12.23am GMT

Here is some alternative analysis of what Twitter sentiment said about who won the encounter. Unlike the Sun’s findings (see 11.18pm), this chart shows Ed Miliband winning easily.

Twitter analysis
Twitter analysis Photograph: Centre for the Analysis of Social Media

This is from Jamie Bartlett, from the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media.

12.15am GMT

David Cameron posted this on Twitter after the encounter.

12.08am GMT

Both sides were contacting journalists during and after the Cameron/Miliband showdown with their “spin”. Labour concentrated on sending me text messages.

But, when it came to sending emails, the Tories beat Labour hands down. Here’s my inbox from earlier.

My email inbox
My email inbox Photograph: Guardian

11.57pm GMT

We’ve got two videos from the exchanges up already, but we’ve got two more videos, with lengthy highlights from David Cameron and Ed Miliband, due to launch in the next 10 minutes or so.

11.54pm GMT

On Twitter some people have been suggesting that ICM must have carried out their poll before the end of Ed Miliband’s exchanges with Jeremy Paxman. That might explain why ICM puts Cameron ahead, they suggest.

I’m told this is not the case. The post-event poll was launched at 10.27pm, after Paxman’s interview with Miliband was over.

11.46pm GMT

YouGov’s app poll: 51% says Cameron won, 49% Miliband

YouGov has been polling tonight’s Cameron/Miliband showdown using a new app.

According to this, Cameron won by a very slim margin.

11.39pm GMT

Alberto Nardelli

</body></html></body></html>”> One challenge when looking at polling around debates is determining pre-existing bias. In other words, most Conservative voters think Cameron won, most Labour voters think Miliband won – the question is what did everyone else think?

Lib Dem supporters broke for Miliband 52% to 48%. Ukip voters for Cameron 70% to 30%.

The topline shows Cameron won the debate according to 54% of respondents.

However, when asked who they thought would make the better PM, 48% said Cameron, 40% Miliband. Now usually on this question, Cameron enjoys a much more significant 15-20 point gap.

Also, among the 8% in the ICM poll that said the debate might change their mind, 56% of these said they would now consider voting Labour, and 30% for the Tories.

Public opinion takes time to stabilise, Miliband began the evening miles behind Cameron when it comes to personal ratings. Tonight he may have narrowed that gap.


p class=”block-time updated-time”>Updated at 11.46pm GMT

11.35pm GMT

ICM poll data in full

Here are the full ICM poll tables.

Updated at 11.35pm GMT

11.34pm GMT

Questions that made PM splutter: Cameron v Paxman – video

David Cameron is also given a rough ride. Paxman, in his signature style, presses the prime minister on the minimum wage, foreign policy and his 2010 pledges on VAT. Watch our compilation of Paxman’s best questions

Updated at 11.36pm GMT

11.33pm GMT

Hell yes! Miliband v Paxman – video

Ed Miliband develops something of a catchphrase during his televised Q&A with Jeremy Paxman. The Labour leader has a lot of explaining to do as he answers questions on immigration, his brother, and whether he’s tough enough for the job of prime minister

11.27pm GMT

Verdict from the Twitter commentariat

Here is a selection of the most interesting tweets I’ve seen from political journalists and commentators who have expressed a view on the Cameron/Miliband showdown.

If ICM are giving it to Cameron (by a small margin), the commentariat are giving it to Miliband.

11.18pm GMT

The Sun has been using sentiment analytics to track reactions to the interviews and Q&As on Twitter.

And their verdict is – a bit mixed.

Well, it seems there was no clear overall winner, with both of them getting a kicking on Twitter.

It was a good night for Paxman, who put both leaders through the wringer, with poor Ed coming off worse.

But Miliband had a stronger showing during the Q&A section, which may have been enough to give him the edge overall.

11.14pm GMT

Behavioural psychologist Dr Peter Collett’s verdict

David Cameron started off talking too fast.
David Cameron started off talking too fast. Photograph: Getty Images

It was really a game of two halves, and I didn’t think there was a lot to chose between them when it came to the audience interrogation. There were certainly signs that Cameron scored when it came to the Paxman interview.

Miliband showed signs of being more jokey, especially towards the end – the acid test is the cut away. It’s not simply a matter of trying to deconstruct how the party leaders behaved but rather looking for cues as to the impact of their behaviours on the audience. If you looked at how the audience were reacting, you could see that they were far more amused when Paxman scored a point against Miliband, than they were when he managed to put down Cameron.

But both leaders seemed rattled. They were using a lot of dominance displays in order to try and reassert themselves: using stiff wrists, a lot of heavy gesticulation and frowning. There was lip licking by Cameron, which is his signature sign of distress. Both were also using finger counting unconsciously in an attempt to discourage Paxman from interrupting them. “What I would like to say is” and up goes the thumb. What this says to Paxman is “Hey I have a list of things to say, don’t interrupt me. Both of them got roughed up quite a bit – I wasn’t overwhelemd by either.

Cameron didn’t start off terribly well in his conversation with Paxman, partly because he was talking too fast and there was no light and shade. Speech speed is a key indication of who is in control. But then he settled in, particularly when he pushed back against Paxman.

Dr Peter Collett is a behavioural psychologist and former Oxford don

Updated at 11.18pm GMT

11.11pm GMT

The ICM poll also asked about character.

Ed Miliband did better than David Cameron on four counts: governing in the interests of the many not the few (55% v 27%); having the courage to say what’s right rather than what’s popular (51% v 35%); and understanding “people like me” (48% v 25%). And, when asked which leader was more spin than substance, Miliband also did better. Some 49% said Cameron was more spin than substance, but only 35% for Miliband.

Cameron also won on four counts: being respected around the word (58% to 19%): being decisive (54% to 29%); being good in a crisis (46% to 21%); and being backed by his party (58% to 21%).

The two men are almost equally matched on having “changed his party for the better”. Some 36% say that of Cameron, and 35% of Miliband.

Updated at 11.17pm GMT

11.09pm GMT

Rowena Mason

</body></html></body></html>”> More from Rowena Mason in the spin room, who has been talking to William Hague. He denied Cameron was out of sorts because the government’s Commons bid to unseat Speaker John Bercow was defeated.

The prime minister was not grumpy. He does not get grumpy and he showed no sign of being that tonight

Asked why Cameron did not get the audience laughing and at ease as Miliband did, Hague said:

They were laughing at him and pointing out Ed Balls was a weak point in the shadow cabinet. The prime minister handled the entire interview extremely well.


p class=”block-time updated-time”>Updated at 11.15pm GMT

11.04pm GMT

Ed Miliband and Jeremy Paxman in the Sky studio. They’re both alright.
Ed Miliband and Jeremy Paxman in the Sky studio. They’re both alright. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

11.03pm GMT

More from the ICM poll.

Only 8% of those polled overall indicated that they were likely to have changed their mind about how they would vote at the election on the basis of what they saw tonight.

Amongst those, 56% said they would now vote Labour. And just 30% said they were now backing the Conservatives.

11.00pm GMT

Nigel Farage.
Nigel Farage.

Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said Miliband had clearly given a better performance, giving him 7/10 against Cameron’s 4/10, Rowena Mason reports.

“It was not what I expected at all,” Farage said. “In terms of personalities, he fought back more, was more human and got the audience clapping. Cameron was nowhere near that. Cameron looked discomfited.”

Updated at 11.02pm GMT

10.59pm GMT

Douglas Alexander, Labour’s election chief, said it was a “powerful, powerful performance [from Ed Miliband] but it wasn’t so much about performance as it was about substance”.

He said Cameron’s answers were “poor”, particularly the one about students choosing zero-hour contracts.

Asked about the poll showing Cameron winning, Alexander said: “If you look at the numbers that emerge in the coming weeks, the numbers that matter are the numbers on May 7 … I haven’t even looked at the numbers but we are protagonists not commentators.”

10.55pm GMT

Guardian/ICM poll shows Cameron wins – just: Cameron 54%, Miliband 46%

Tom Clark

</body></html></body></html>”> An instant Guardian/ICM poll found that David Cameron had narrowly “won” the contest with 54% saying that the PM came out on top once the don’t knows were excluded, compared with just 46% who felt that Miliband had the edge.

The sample of viewers, who were weighted to bring them in line with the broader population, were asked to put aside their party preference and concentrate only on what they heard during the programme, 46% felt that Cameron had the best arguments, as against 44% who said the same of Miliband. Cameron was also judged slightly more convincing – by 48% to 43% – and to have the more appealing personality, by 46% to 42%. He chalked up a clearer win on “actually answering the questions asked”, by 44% to 37%.

There was better news for Miliband when it comes to the crucial question of shifting votes: 56% of the sub-sample who said they might change their mind will now plump for Labour, as against just 30% for the Conservatives.

David Cameron retains his lead as best prime minister in this survey – but by a smaller margin than in many past polls – he is preferred on this count by 48% as against just 40% for Miliband.

ICM interviewed 3,650 adults aged 18+ online on 24-26th March. All agreed to watch the Cameron vs Miliband Live: the Battle for Number 10, and to complete a second interview immediately after it finished, which 1,123 did in the first few minutes. The data on both waves were weighted to the profile of all GB adults, including to recall of 2010 General Election voting. In essence, the post-wave data is ICM’s best guess on what a representative sample of the voting population would say had they all watched the programme.


p class=”block-time updated-time”>Updated at 11.00pm GMT

10.51pm GMT

Rupert Murdoch was watching.

I don’t think President Obama has tweeted about Ed Miliband yet, though.

10.45pm GMT

Poll findings – Snap analysis

Andrew Sparrow


There are three snap observations on our poll.

1) A win is a win. David Cameron is entitled to celebrate victory.

2) But, given Ed Miliband’s personal ratings before tonight, Miliband is the man who has outperformed his benchmark – quite significantly.

3) And this does cause problems for the Tories, because depicting Miliband as unfit to be prime minister constitutes about 50% of their election strategy. (The long-term economic plan is the other 50%). Labour are attacking Cameron, of course, but their campaign is not founded on the notion that he is manifestly incapable of running the country.

10.43pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>And the big winner tonight is... Sunil! Who asked such a good question (“Do you not think your brother would have done a better job?”) , even Jeremy Paxman found himself returning to it towards the end when he wasn’t the only one starting to flag.</p> <p>Otherwise, whatever your view of their answers, it seems clear that Miliband secured a huge advantage in winning the toss and putting Cameron in to bat first, allowing his half-time pep-talkers to slap him about the face a few times and send him out swinging. </p> <p>He is, let us recall, “a pretty resilient guy”. As is his “poor mother”, who may have had to endure the “bruising” split of her sons, but having been forced to flee a town from which tens of thousands were transported to Treblinka, may feel she’s had worse.</p> <p>All of which aside - can he eat three Shredded Wheat? We may never know, since Burley dodged the question. Call that a fair non-debate?</p> </div>

10.38pm GMT

Our poll result is out. And Cameron wins - just.

Cameron: 54%

Miliband: 46%

More soon ...

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:59:55.413Z">at 10.59pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.36pm GMT

Cameron/Miliband showdown - Overall snap verdict

Cameron/Miliband showdown - Overall snap verdict: You can see why Ed Miliband wanted to go second. Anyone voting now in our poll will have the memory of Miliband’s exchange with Paxman foremost in their mind, and I expect many people will conclude he was impressive. Although I said earlier he seemed a bit over-rehearsed, he also produced some good spontaneous comebacks (like the one about Cameron on the tube). Overall, the encounter did not contain any big surprises - they rarely do - and, whatever our poll says, it is unlikely to decide the election. But these were compelling, lively encounters, and proof that hard interviews can actually work to the advantage of those being interviewed too.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:37:50.209Z">at 10.37pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.30pm GMT

Paxman interviews Miliband - Snap verdict

Paxman interviews Miliband - Snap verdict: Miliband has put in hours of practice for these encounters, and it showed. To my ears, some of the assertive lines - hell, yes, he is tough enough; who cares what people think; he has always been underestimated - sounded a tad over-rehearsed. But I thought the same about Tony Blair’s “people’s princess”, which was one of the most successful soundbites ever, and my guess is that people will generally respond positively to this Miliband. Paxman almost disconcerted him with the energy question, and he picked up Miliband’s tendency to answer his own questions, but, overall, Miliband was in control and I would expect him to do well in our poll.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:34:18.150Z">at 10.34pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.29pm GMT

Miliband and Paxman: apparently they’re both alright.

Miliband and Paxman: apparently they're both alright.
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:30:10.985Z">at 10.30pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.25pm GMT


Q: Simon Danczuk says you are a liability.

Miliband says he does not care. He has stood up to people like Obama and Rupert Murdoch.

Who cares what people think?

Q: People say your brother would do a better job?

Miliband says he has been underestimated. People never thought he would be leader.

That’s why he wants to be prime minster.

At the end Paxman asks him if he is alright. (It sounds as if the mike is meant to be off.) “Yes,” says Miliband, “are you?”

Ed Miliband poses with Kay Burley and Jeremy Paxman.
Ed Miliband poses with Kay Burley and Jeremy Paxman. Photograph: Getty Images
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T23:25:14.986Z">at 11.25pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.23pm GMT


Q: I met someone on the tube recently who said you weren’t tough enough to stand up to Putin.

Was it David Cameron?

Q: He doesn’t take the tube much.

That’s unfair to Cameron, says Miliband.

He says he resisted pressure to back the government over bombing Syria. He stood up to President Barack Obama. Is he tough enough? Hell, yes, he is tough enough.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:31:27.555Z">at 10.31pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.23pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>Jeremy Paxman has met another real person. On the tube. Drink!<br />Ed: “Was it David Cameron you spoke to on the tube?”<br />It wasn’t, you will be amazed to learn.</p> <figure class="element element-tweet" data-canonical-url="https://twitter.com/stephenkb/statuses/581220097819279360"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>If Ed Miliband doesn't care about what the newspapers say, he must *really* hate immigrants. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BattleForNumber10?src=hash">#BattleForNumber10</a></p>&mdash; Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) <a href="https://twitter.com/stephenkb/status/581220097819279360">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> </figure> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:25:30.012Z">at 10.25pm GMT</time></p>

10.21pm GMT

The SNP and Alex Salmond

Q: As for Alex Salmond’s demands, will you scrap Trident?

No, says Miliband.

Q: What about starting HS2 in Scotland?

Miliband says he is not going to get into a negotiation with Salmond.

Paxman says he will have to.

Miliband says that is presumptious. It is not up to him to decide the election.

Q: You really think you can win a majority?

Yes, says Miliband.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:31:44.807Z">at 10.31pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.20pm GMT

Miliband fronts up to Paxman's questions.
Miliband fronts up to Paxman’s questions. Photograph: Sky screengrab
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:25:37.477Z">at 10.25pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.19pm GMT

The mansion tax

Q: Jim Murphy said the mansion tax was a way of taking money out of the south of England and giving it to Scotland.

Miliband says he does not accept that.

The mansion tax will affect homes worth more than £2m. Many of those are in London. There will be “consequentials”, and some money will go to Scotland. But some will go to Newcastle as well. That is part of being a United Kingdom.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:23:41.813Z">at 10.23pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.17pm GMT


Q: On energy policy, you used to think raising energy bills was a great way of helping the environment. Now you want to cut them.

Miliband says he never said raising energy bills was a way of saving the environment.

Q: You introduced a levy.

Miliband says he also wanted bills to be fair. There will be upward pressure on bills in the long run. But that makes it all the more important to make it fair.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:20:49.313Z">at 10.20pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.16pm GMT

The economy

Q: You’ve been wrong on unemployment, inflation and wages.

Wages have fallen, says Miliband.

Q: What would you cut?

Miliband cites the winter fuel allowance for wealthy pensioners. There would be cuts for the police and local government.

Q: How much does that save?

Miliband says he will make these decisions in government.

He is proposing cuts outside a few protected areas. Tony Blair never did that.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:20:16.105Z">at 10.20pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.14pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <figure class="element element-image" data-media-id="7f8050578f1441873c772322fcdd7987d0a4f68f"> <img src="https://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/3/26/1427408323078/6a22d778-aa91-4ffd-9470-d18fd213ecb1-460x276.jpeg" alt="Miliband" width="460" height="276" class="gu-image" /> </figure> <p>So Miliband didn’t fall over and accidentally kick himself in the face, which means he’s already ahead. But whatever the reason behind Burley waking up and being considerably more interventionist with the Labour leader than with Cameron, that was certainly a livelier audience session, despite two “I make no bones about it”s, two “we can do better”s and several “let me say this”-es from Ed.</p> <p>At least we’ve found the first star of the night in Sunil, who asked the best audience question in history: “Do you not think your brother would have done a better job?” Unusually, it actually got quite a revealing response.</p> <figure class="element element-tweet" data-canonical-url="https://twitter.com/laurenlaverne/statuses/581216308987039744"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Paxman's on now. I hope HE remembers to ask about the Shredded Wheat. The nation must know. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BattleForNumber10?src=hash">#BattleForNumber10</a></p>&mdash; Lauren Laverne (@laurenlaverne) <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenlaverne/status/581216308987039744">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> </figure> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:18:49.544Z">at 10.18pm GMT</time></p>

10.14pm GMT


Q: Labour got immigration completely wrong. Some 400,000 people came in. What else did Labour do wrong?

Two things, says Miliband. He says he is proud of much of what the government did. But there was too much inequality.

Q: Did you borrow too much?

Miliband says borrowing got too high, but that was because of the financial crisis.

Q: Did you spend too much?

Miliband says, if you are saying too much spending caused the crisis.

Paxman says Miliband is answering his own questions again. He poses the question.

Miliband says Paxman is now asking his own questions.

Q: What did you spend too much on?

The Millennium Dome was unnecessary, says Miliband.

Fact check on Miliband’s claim on living standards by FullFact.org

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:51:41.659Z">at 10.51pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.11pm GMT


Miliband says he wants sensible controls on immigration. But, if you are asking about the EU ...

I’m not, says Paxman. You are inventing your own questions.

Q: What level should it be?

Miliband says he is not going to pluck a figure out of the air. But there should be controls.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:19:49.297Z">at 10.19pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.10pm GMT

Paxman interviews Miliband

Q: Do you think Britain is full?

In terms of immigration ...

Yees (a classic Paxo drawl)

Miliband says he would not put it like that.

Q: Labour got it wrong on immigration.

Yes, says Miliband.

(He is distancing himself from the Blair/Brown record again. See 10.07pm.)


10.08pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>Well that was Cameron, or rather, the two Camerons – frazzled, essay crisis Cameron getting a hellish tutorial grilling, and chillaxed Dave who tilts his head to one side and emotes with voters and whose biggest regret is that he didn’t get to do more of the all the really great things he has done.</p> <p>He has, at least, succeeded in uniting the nation on a number of crucial points:</p> <p>- This Uncle Tom Cobbley sounds like an promising choice for Tory leader</p> <p>- Hasn’t Zayn Malik aged a lot since he left One Direction?</p> <p>- More Paxo please, one nation Tory or not.</p> </div>

10.07pm GMT

The view on Cameron from our BritainThinks voters

But what do the real voters think about Cameron’s performance tonight? We have 60 on standby to give their view throughout the election campaign as part of our joint polling project with the pollsters BritainThinks.

The people in the focus groups are all undecided voters from five key seats. They each have an app and some of them are online now telling us what they think of the Cameron’s interview with Paxman as it happened.

The overall feeling is that Cameron actually fared well, Deborah Mattinson, Founder of Britain Thinks says.

One describes him as “composed”.

Another says: “I’m rather impressed so far.”

“I think he did well.”

“Holding his own.”

“I have a lot of respect - he doesn’t get flustered.”

“I have a lot of respect for Cameron - he doesn’t get too flustered even when he’s grilled by Paxman! He seems honest and down to earth.

“Cameron has his facts and figures to hand and is not allowing Paxman to throw him off course in giving his answers, despite tough questioning from him.”

“Superb Cameron so far, very switched on and trustworthy.”

The initial responses on Miliband are not so positive.

“Ed Miliband doesn’t seem to speak as confidently as David Cameron. Also not as ready with the numbers as David Cameron.”

“First time I’ve listened to Ed Miliband… Arrrr 80 minutes of it.”

“Milibands words sound like a fairytale. Easier said than done.”

“David v Ed question put him on the spot! Do I vote for someone who would undermine his brother like he did?”

Deborah’s summary of the panel’s views so far: “Top line view is that DC’s performance is more assured and confident than EM - also better command of facts and figures. All our panel are undecided but this view cuts across geography and current party preferences. In particular we saw praise for Cam from some Scottish participants and some Labour leaners. People in the panel are responding to the policies in a partisan way but even strong anti-Tories in this small sample tended to rate Cameron’s performance over Miliband’s.”

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:08:38.722Z">at 10.08pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.07pm GMT

As Miliband answers questions from the audience, his brother is tweeting about displaced Burmese people ...

... much to the consternation of his followers.


10.07pm GMT

Miliband’s Q&A with Burley - Snap verdict

Miliband’s Q&A with Burley - Snap verdict: Labour will be pleased with that. The Miliband we saw bore no real relation to the “weak”, “despicable” character that Cameron talks about at PMQs. He sounded passionate, and engaged well with the audience (from what I heard - it might have looked different to someone watching more). It was striking how much he differentiated himself from Labour’s record, and not having to defend his actions in government, as Cameron did, seemed to give him an advantage. It was also noticeable how keen he was to talk about his pledge to cut tuition fees, even boasting about how it benefited the middle classes, not low earners. Steve Richards revealed recently that one reason Miliband was keen to have a pledge on this was so he could use it as a shield in the debates. Tonight we saw that in action.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:12:34.989Z">at 10.12pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.03pm GMT

Q: Why are you so behind in the polls?

Miliband says he takes an old-fashioned view. The people are the boss. They will decide.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:09:54.156Z">at 10.09pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.03pm GMT

Q: You have made it difficult for your supporters. You have made gaffes. You do not seem to be fighting for the people you should be.

Miliband says his spending plans are very different from the Conservatives.

On gaffes, he says he is not going to win a bacon-sandwich eating contest. But what matters is ideas and decency.

Q: What about Labour’s record on the banks?

Miliband says Labour was wrong on that. He uses the word “wrong” four or five times. He has learnt from that.

Q: Has Ed Balls?

He absolutely has, says Miliband.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:10:35.887Z">at 10.10pm GMT</time></p> </div>

10.00pm GMT


Q: How are you going to be different from Nick Clegg? Or are you just going to sugar-coat things?

No, says Miliband.

Q: How do we know?

Miliband cites what he said about tuition fees. He said in 2011 that he would cut them. He has found a way of doing this.

Q: What do you think are Cameron’s best qualities?

Miliband says there are two things he admires. First, Cameron’s commitment to gay marriage. And, second, his commitment to overseas aid spending.

Q: Would you have a pint with him?

Miliband says he is not sure. But he would share a bacon sandwich, he says.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T23:27:00.207Z">at 11.27pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.57pm GMT

Q: Is socialism still an important value?

Miliband says he calls it democratic socialism. But his answer is yes. Every generation must interpret this for themselves. Does the economy only work for the rich? Or does it work for everyone? He wants a fairer, more equal society.


9.56pm GMT

Q: Wouldn’t your brother do a better job? He was better qualified and better positioned.

Miliband says it won’t surprise the questioner to hear that he thinks the answer is no. He felt he had to move Labour on, on things like Iraq.

Q: How do you feel about creating such divisions?

It is hard, says Miliband. It was bruising but it is healing.

Q: Did you not talk?

No, says Miliband, but relations were strained.

Your poor mum, says Burley.

She is quite hardened, Miliband says.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:58:34.001Z">at 9.58pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.54pm GMT


Q: Why won’t you give people a vote on the EU?

Miliband says that is not his priority. Leaving the EU would be a disaster. Strategically, if you are dealing with terrorism or climate change, you have to be in the EU. If there is a transfer of power, he would have a referendum. But this is unlikely. Why would he have a referendum when he doesn’t want to leave?

Q: That’s not a definite no, it’s a politician’s answer.

I don’t think so, says Miliband.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T23:28:25.305Z">at 11.28pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.52pm GMT

Q: If you are prime minister, what will the budget deficit be at the end of the parliament?

Miliband says he wants to balance the budget. He will put up taxes for the highest earners. There will be some cuts. And under the Conservatives ...

Don’t talk about them, says Burley.

Miliband says it is relevant. We need to encourage growth, so we get more tax revenues.


9.51pm GMT

Q: I’m a higher-rate taxpayer. Labour’s messages make me feel demonised.

Miliband says he hopes to give a better message. Some people criticise him for wanting to cut tuition fees, saying it will help middle-class families. Too right I want to help middle-class families, he says.

We all benefit from better services, he says.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:52:37.215Z">at 9.52pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.49pm GMT

Miliband's Q&A with Burley


Q: Are things really that bad?

No, says Ed Miliband, but they could be a lot better. He would do something about it. We could do a lot better than this.

Cameron said he could not live on a zero hours contract. Nor could I. So let’s do something about it.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:59:21.436Z">at 9.59pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.47pm GMT

Cameron’s Q&A with Burley - Snap verdict

Cameron’s Q&A with Burley - Snap verdict: Well, that really sucked the life out of the event (and showed why professional interviewers are worth the money), and Cameron seemed to relax. (I would have said he relaxed visibly, but I’m typing, so mostly heard it, rather than watched it.) But the NHS question was sharp, and reinforced the point made by Paxman about Cameron having an iffy record on promise-keeping. And the “what do you regret” question was good too. My impression was that Cameron misjudged it. He started with a joke answer, and then resorted to: “I should have done what I did, only faster”. At this point a touch of humility may have served him better. But it was the familiar, rather cocksure, amiable bloke prime minister we saw, and all the evidence is that people don’t mind that much.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:54:23.802Z">at 9.54pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.46pm GMT

Cameron appears to welcome the slightly more open reception from Kay Burley.
Cameron appears to welcome the slightly more open reception from Kay Burley. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

9.42pm GMT

Q: If you could redo one thing from your time as prime minister, what would it be?

Cameron says he promised less noise, and more politeness at PMQs. That did not work out. On the economy, he wished he had done things like the help-to-buy housing programme quicker. But nothing will work without a strong economy.

Q: Have you ever had three shredded wheat?

Yes, but it was a long time ago.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:49:30.163Z">at 9.49pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.41pm GMT

Q: You promised no top-down NHS reorganisation. In our borough we had to take the government to court to keep our hospital open. You broke your promises. So how can we trust you?

Cameron says his biggest promise was not to cut the NHS. And he didn’t. He got rid of bureaucrats, and he is now treating more patients in the NHS. If he gets elected again, with a strong economy, he will go on investing in the NHS.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:36:32.219Z">at 10.36pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.39pm GMT

Paxman’s body language speaks loud and clear to Cameron.

Jeremy Paxman's body language speaks loud and clear to David Cameron.

9.39pm GMT

Q: Would you like to see more NHS services provided by private companies?

Cameron says he is happy to see charities or companies provide good healthcare. What matters is whether it is good. He loves the NHS. He recalls taking his desperately ill son Ivan to hospital. Private providers are a tiny proportion of the total.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:12:36.349Z">at 10.12pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.37pm GMT

BuzzFeed’s Emily Ashton has a point.


9.37pm GMT

Q: How will you convince the public not to opt out of the EU?

Cameron says Britain is at its best when it is an outward-looking, trading nation. The EU does some good things, but it is trying to do too much.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:43:02.123Z">at 9.43pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.36pm GMT

Q: What would you do to help disabled people?

Cameron says he wants genuine equality. The Disability Discrimination Act, introduced by William Hague in the 1990s, has had a good effect. But there is more to be done. The employment gap is too big. Some employers are very good, and accept that if they don’t employ disabled people, they are missing good people. It comes back to a strong economy.

Q: I still think there is more to be done. Social care is becoming harder.

Cameron says councils need to bring health and social care together more.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:42:48.212Z">at 9.42pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.33pm GMT

Burley interupts. She has a question on policing.

Q: Will you reverse the police cuts?

Cameron says he has huge respect for the police. Police budgets have been cut, but crime has come down too. Desk jobs were cut; forces were combined and there are still more efficiencies to be achieved.

Q: The Lincolnshire chief constable said services were close to collapse.

Cameron says he does not accept that.

Burley asks the questioner if he is happy with the response. He replies: “No comment.”

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:41:54.880Z">at 9.41pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.31pm GMT

Q: It has been said we have not seen anything yet as regards cuts to public services. How bad will it get?

Cameron says he did not want to make cuts. But he had to get the deficit down. What he needs to do in the next two years is similar to what has been done so far.

What he is suggesting is manageable and do-able, he says.

Q: Can you give some examples?

Cameron says he mentioned some earlier, such as cutting in-work benefits. He says he has saved £20bn this parliament by being smarter. There is more to be done. Businesses do this. They try and do this every year.

As an example, Cameron cites policing.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:35:40.257Z">at 9.35pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.29pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>To the audience! No Dimbleby tonight, but never not worth reviving this …<br /></p> <figure class="element element-video" data-canonical-url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3tUqRBiMVo"> </figure> </div>

9.28pm GMT

Q: Will you appoint a cabinet minister for older people?

Cameron thanks the questioner for her advocacy for older people. He says he will ensure pensioner benefits continue for everyone.

He was asked about such a ministerial role the other day. He will think about it. But he wants all of his ministers to be thinking about how to look after older people.

If the government is not doing right by older people, do not blame the others, he says; blame me.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:34:39.572Z">at 9.34pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.28pm GMT

A fact check from the Observer’s economics editor Heather Stewart:

David Cameron claimed that ‘the stock of debt is falling as a percentage of GDP’. George Osborne proudly announced at last week’s budget that it will fall in the coming financial year, 2015-16, but the prime minister is wrong to claim that it’s falling already; and as the Office for Budget Responsibility pointed out, he only achieved this forecast reduction by counting on the proceeds of a sell-off of some of the banking assets the Treasury has owned since the financial crisis.

The prime minister rightly told Jeremy Paxman that the coalition has cut the budget deficit - the gap between government revenue and spending each year - by half as a share of GDP since 2010 (though they hoped to eliminate it altogether).

However, he also claimed that “the stock of debt is falling as a percentage of GDP”. George Osborne proudly announced at last week’s Budget that debt as a share of the economy is now forecast by the office for budget responsibility to fall in the coming financial year - 2015-16 - fulfilling one of the Conservatives fiscal rules. But the prime minister is wrong to claim that it’s happened already. And as the Office for Budget Responsibility pointed out, he only achieved this forecast reduction by counting on the proceeds of a sell-off of some of the banking assets the Treasury has owned since the financial crisis. In cash terms, public sector net debt was £771bn in 2009-2010; it is expected to end the current financial year at £1489bn

And this from the Guardian’s home affairs correspondent Alan Travis on Cameron’s VAT claims:

Paxman told Cameron that in the 2010 election “you said to my face, twice, that you would not raise VAT. But you did”.

Cameron responded: “There is a crucial difference on this occasion. We are the government... we know what is necessary in the next Parliament. Our plans do not include increases in VAT or national insurance or income tax. We are very clear about that...The right approach is to find savings not to put up taxes.”

His wording is already a retreat from his promise at prime minister’s question time on Wednesday firmly ruling out any VAT rises. His language now echoes almost exactly what he said in 2010.

On April 23 2010 Cameron said: “We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT. Our first budget is all about recognising we need to get spending under control rather than putting up tax.”

In June 2009 he he had been even more unequivocal saying: “You could try, as you say, to put it on VAT, sales tax, but again if you look at the effect of sales tax, it’s very regressive, it hits the poorest the hardest. It does, I absolutely promise you. Any sales tax, anything that goes on purchases that you make in shops tends to . . . if you look at it, where VAT goes now it doesn’t go on food, obviously, but it goes very, very widely and VAT is a more regressive tax than income tax or council tax.”

But neither statement prevented George Osborne raising the standard rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20% in his ‘emergency budget’ on 22 June 2010.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:57:05.208Z">at 9.57pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.26pm GMT

Cameron's Q&A with Burley


Q: [From Matthew] What are Ed Miliband’s best qualities?

Cameron laughs. “That is a tricky one. All of us put ourselves forward because we want to do the right thing.” He says he admires Miliband for voting with him over Islamic State.

Q: You called him despicable.

Cameron says Miliband calls him things too. He called Cameron dodgy that day. He took his daughter to PMQs this week, and she said she would not be allowed to behave like that at school.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:34:25.206Z">at 9.34pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.24pm GMT

This is from Stewart Wood, one of Miliband’s closest advisers.


9.24pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>“Could you live on a zero hours contract?”<br />“How much money have you borrowed?”<br />“There’s a credibility problem here, isn’t there?”<br />“What do you think has been your biggest foreign policy disaster?”<br />“What would it take for you to vote no in a referendum on our continued participation in the European Union?”<br />“A vote for Cameron is a vote for two, three, four years, after which it’s Boris Johnson or ... Uncle Tom Cobbley?”<br /><br />Oh Paxo, how we’ve missed you!</p> <figure class="element element-image" data-media-id="ed3b5e7e2143d1540b7b18786d0752b4128970aa"> <img src="https://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/3/26/1427405163408/33189864-a474-477b-81d9-36896e4a1e2b-460x276.jpeg" alt="Paxman" width="460" height="276" class="gu-image" /> <figcaption> <span class="element-image__caption">Paxman</span> </figcaption> </figure> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:26:13.425Z">at 9.26pm GMT</time></p>

9.22pm GMT

Paxman interviews Cameron - Snap verdict

Paxman interviews Cameron - Snap verdict: What a class act. Paxman, of course. Not just because the questions were aggressive, but because they were pointed, clever, witty (and aggressive). It was Cameron’s most uncomfortable 20 minutes in an interview for ages. His concession that he could not live on a zero hours contract is already being used against him by Labour, but overall he held up reasonably well, and even managed a lighthearted comment at the end.


9.20pm GMT

The third term


Q: You said you won’t stand for a third term. So after three or four years, we could get someone else, or “uncle Tom Cobbley”.

Cameron says he will serve a full third term. But he does not think he is indispensable.

And that bit of the show is over.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:25:30.281Z">at 9.25pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.18pm GMT


Q: What would it take for you to vote no in an EU referendum?

Cameron says if it were not in Britain’s interests, he would not recommend staying.

Q: So, by implication, our current membership is intolerable.

Cameron says it could be improved. He wants to give people a proper choice. And people will only get a referendum with him as prime minister.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:24:35.511Z">at 9.24pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.17pm GMT

Foreign policy

Q: What is your biggest foreign policy disaster?

Cameron mentions cutting the EU budget, and going into Libya.

Q: You promised that Britain would stand by the people of Libya.

Cameron says it was right to go into Libya. Britain put in aid, and military assistance.

Q: People are being beheaded on the beach.

Cameron says it has been very difficult.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:19:59.644Z">at 9.19pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.16pm GMT

Welfare cuts

Q: Can you tell us where this £12bn in welfare cuts will come from?

Cameron says £13bn needs to come from departments, and £12bn from welfare. He would freeze in-work benefits for two years. That £12bn ...

Q: £10bn of which you have not explained. Where will the cuts fall?

It is possible to make the savings, Cameron says.

Q: I don’t want to be rude. Do you know and are you not saying? Or do you not know?

Cameron says the Tories could cut the benefit cap. They would stop young people getting housing benefit.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:18:37.907Z">at 9.18pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.13pm GMT


Q: At the last election you said to my face, twice, that you would not raise VAT. But you did.

Cameron says now that he is in government he has been able to look at the books.

He wants to find £1 of waste in every £100 of government spending. His opponents want to put up taxes.

Q: You said one thing, but did another.

Cameron says he had an appalling inheritance from Labour. He had to get the deficit down. Employment is growing; the economy is working.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:17:37.651Z">at 9.17pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.11pm GMT

The national debt

Q: You said before the election the country was overwhelmed by debt. Do you know how much you are borrowing?

Cameron says he expects Paxman to tell him. That gets a minor laugh.

Paxman says it is £500bn.

Cameron says we need to cut the deficit more quickly.

Q: My point is the chasm between what was said and what was done. You said you would cut immigration. What is it?

Cameron says it has not been cut to the tens of thousands.

Q: You have failed.

Cameron says we need to fix the broken welfare system. He outlines his proposed changes to welfare rules for migrants.

Q: You have not done what you said. It was a ‘no ifs, not buts’ promise.

Cameron says he has not met the commitment he made. “I fully accept that.”

Fact check on the national debt question by FullFact.org

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:55:39.581Z">at 10.55pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.11pm GMT

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>Judging by their red carpet arrival pap shots, David Cameron and Ed Miliband have chosen to dress, respectively, in bright royal blue and slightly lighter (more Republican?) blue. Paxman, (HE’S ENTIRELY IMPARTIAL, REMEMBER), is in a scarlet tie, while Burley’s gone for a shade of neon pink that seems to have made even her eyes go a bit funny.</p> <p>First blood, meanwhile, to Paxman, who is the first to mention a chap a friend of his met somewhere in the north who handily illustrates his political point. Drink!</p> <p>Food banks, zero hours’ contracts, Stephen Green at HSBC, Paxo, the deficit and immigration in the first 10 minutes. Cameron currently wondering why on earth he didn’t go for the mano-a-mano against Miliband.</p> <figure class="element element-tweet" data-canonical-url="https://twitter.com/GaryLineker/statuses/581199885849907200"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Thought <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BattleForNumber10?src=hash">#BattleForNumber10</a> was going to be a football documentary about the game's greats.</p>&mdash; Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) <a href="https://twitter.com/GaryLineker/status/581199885849907200">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> </figure> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:16:53.155Z">at 9.16pm GMT</time></p>

9.08pm GMT

Minimum wage

Cameron says he wants a higher minimum wage. But it has gone up.

And he has cut taxes. Low-paid people have been taken out of income tax, he says.

Q: You couldn’t live on a ZHC. I’m going to get personal. You chose someone who was a rich banker who advised on tax avoidance to your government. You chose to appoint a rich newspaper person who hacked phones to No 10. And you chose to defend a rich TV presenter who hit someone. What do these people have in common?

Cameron says they are different cases. He defends former HSBC boss Stephen Green. On Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, he says he did not know what happened. Clarkson is a friend, but it was up to the BBC to decide what to do after he assaulted a producer.

The aspersion you are trying to make is ridiculous.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:16:49.947Z">at 9.16pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.05pm GMT

Zero hours contracts

Q: How many jobs are zero hours contracts?

About one in 50.

Q: Could you live on one?

Cameron starts answering. As Paxman tries to interrupt, he says “Hold on”.

Paxman keeps repeating the question about whether Cameron could live on a ZHC.

That’s not the question, says Cameron.

It’s my question, says Paxman.

Cameron says the government outlawed exclusive ZHCs. He could not live on one. That is why they got rid of them.

Fact check on zero hours contracts by FullFact.org

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T22:56:15.479Z">at 10.56pm GMT</time></p> </div>

9.03pm GMT

Paxman interviews Cameron

Q: Do you know how many food banks there were when you came to power.

Not exactly, says Cameron. But the people who run them do a good job.

Q: There were 66. Now it’s 421. You said you would fix the broken society. You didn’t.

(Paxman isn’t holding back.)

Cameron says he does not accept that. Labour did not promote food banks in job centres.


9.00pm GMT

We're under way: Cameron/Miliband in #BattleforNumber10


Jeremy Paxman opens the programme.

He says it is the first big test of the election.

Kay Burley introduces the studio audience, and talks through the order of play.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T21:19:31.345Z">at 9.19pm GMT</time></p> </div>

8.59pm GMT

Here we go.


8.55pm GMT


8.53pm GMT

Douglas Alexander, Labour election strategy chair, is in the spin room spinning for Ed Miliband.


8.51pm GMT

Esther Addley’s alternative (non-)debate commentary

Esther Addley

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>Okay, so it’s not a debate. Try to control your disappointment. Cameron and Miliband will not trade verbal jousts, and will not even appear in the same room at the same time, though the reluctant prime minister might be regretting his determined resistance on that point after his rampant performance at PMQs yesterday.</p> <p>But at last, after months of barracking and blather, we finally get our first chance to decide who wins “The Battle for Number 10” when the two heavyweights finally square up against each other. I’ll be reporting on the night from an armchair pundit’s point of view, offering a slightly different slant from Andrew – more The Thick of It than Newsnight.</p> <figure class="element element-tweet" data-canonical-url="https://twitter.com/davidschneider/statuses/581187198952861696"> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Cameron (right of pic) insists on hazmat suit to ensure no debatey contact with Miliband tonight <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/battlefornumber10?src=hash">#battlefornumber10</a> <a href="http://t.co/3LKWEKjz3s">pic.twitter.com/3LKWEKjz3s</a></p>&mdash; David Schneider (@davidschneider) <a href="https://twitter.com/davidschneider/status/581187198952861696">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> </figure> <p>So which is it to be? Sky or Channel 4? Fittingly for such an entirely bizarre event, both broadcasters are screening “Cameron and Miliband Live” (that’s “and”, you will note, not “versus”), and if that wasn’t strange enough, it’s co-presented by two formidable battlers in their own right, Jeremy Paxman - making his first major post-Newsnight appearance - and Kay Burley, <a href="http:// http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8423480/Kay-Burley-Skys-first-lady-sets-Westminster-tongues-wagging.html">whom the Telegraph once called “the high-heeled hellcat from Hounslow”</a>, which we think means she’s an aggressive interviewer who is a woman.</p> <p>At least we can be confident this will be an entirely impartial non-debate – <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/10929289/Newsnight-is-made-by-13-year-olds-says-Jeremy-Paxman">the fact that Paxman has admitted to being a “one nation Tory”</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/shamindernahal/status/581145121581867008">reportedly recently “seriously considered” standing for the party in Kensington and Chelsea are of absolutely no consequence</a>.</p> <figure class="element element-image element--thumbnail" data-media-id="493f27bf2c88b7c8feafa1bff1c134a4f53738a6"> <img src="https://media.guim.co.uk/493f27bf2c88b7c8feafa1bff1c134a4f53738a6/83_740_731_1096/667.jpg" alt="Kay Burley." width="667" height="1000" class="gu-image" /> <figcaption> <span class="element-image__caption">Kay Burley.</span> </figcaption> </figure> <p>Burley has not declared a party allegiance, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt_cUiCjggE">though she did tell the director of the campaign group 38 Degrees</a> that a protest at Westminster would “make no difference whatsoever … Why don’t you just go home?”, and there <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xco7o7-uTiI">was also that time</a> she called a campaigner from Yes Scotland a “knob”.</p> <p>Unlikely studio-mates, perhaps, but according to the Daily Mail they are getting along swimmingly, with Burley marching up to a glum-looking Paxman at rehearsals and proclaiming <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/mar/26/jeremy-paxman-kay-burley-election-debate-david-cameron-ed-miliband">“On your feet, big guy, and give me a snog”.</a><br /></p> <p>Fingers crossed for more of that this evening.<br /></p> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T20:56:40.557Z">at 8.56pm GMT</time></p>

8.50pm GMT

This sounds like wishful thinking.

I’m afraid a Lib Dem win isn’t an option with our ICM poll.


8.48pm GMT

The two parties tossed a coin to decide who went first. Labour won, and Ed Miliband decided to go second.

The two party leaders also decided in what order to do the interview/Q&A sections. David Cameron chose to have his Paxman encounter first, while Miliband decided to confront the audience before being formally interviewed.

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T20:56:55.051Z">at 8.56pm GMT</time></p> </div>

8.46pm GMT

Nigel Farage is speaking to Sky’s Adam Boulton.

Asked who he expects to win, he says at least David Cameron has a message. He does not know what Labour stands for.

I suspect that Cameron will get the upper hand.

Nigel Farage at the Sky studio
Nigel Farage at the Sky studio Photograph: Sky News

8.42pm GMT

Here are more pictures from Sky HQ.

And, for some reason, the Iron Throne from the Game of Thrones is there.


8.36pm GMT


8.35pm GMT

Nigel Farage turns up

Nigel Farage has turned up.

Perhaps he’ll end up winning?


8.23pm GMT

More from the spin room.

Some of us are used to writing as we go along ...


8.20pm GMT

Polling benchmarks

Soon after tonight’s event is over, the Guardian will publish the results of an ICM poll of viewers who have watched the whole programme. Respondents will be asked who they think “won”, and the results will be weighted demographically, and by past voting, so that they give a reasonable idea as to what a representative sample of the electorate would say if they had watched the programme.

But who would you expect to win? Here are at least three benchmarks you could use.

Party polling

Sometimes the results of debate polls closely mirror party polls. If that happens tonight, it will be a draw, because Labour and the Conservatives are effectively tied in the current polls. Here’s the Guardian’s graph showing the average of latest polls, with Labour on 33.6% and the Conservatives on 33.4%.

That means if either Cameron or Miliband secure a clear win, they will be able to say they are outperforming their party.

Current polls
Current polls Photograph: Guardian

Leader perceptions

But voters already have views about Cameron and Miliband. And they think Cameron would make the best prime minister. Here are the latest figures on this from YouGov’s tracker (pdf).

Who would make the best prime minister?

Cameron: 39%

Miliband: 21%

That means, if people judge the debate partly in accordance with their views on who might make the best prime minister, you would expect Cameron to win easily. If he doesn’t, Miliband could arguably claim that he is outperforming expectations.

Leader perceptions
Leader perceptions Photograph: YouGov

Leaders’ approval

There is another way of judging leaders: asking whether they are doing well or badly. And, on this measure, as the YouGov figures show (pdf), Miliband is far behind Cameron. (This probably reflects critical coverage of Miliband in the media, and polling evidence suggesting that, unlike Cameron, he is having a negative effect on support for his party.) If you take this as a benchmark, then, just so long as Miliband does not get trounced by Cameron, he can go home arguing he has made some progress.

Cameron: -5 (45% well, 50% badly)

Miliband: -39 (26% well, 65% badly)

<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T20:21:27.180Z">at 8.21pm GMT</time></p> </div>

8.11pm GMT

Cameron arrives

And David Cameron has now just arrived.

David Cameron arriving at Sky
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T20:14:26.987Z">at 8.14pm GMT</time></p> </div>

7.58pm GMT

Labour is effectively trying to “sledge” Cameron on Twitter.


7.54pm GMT

Miliband arrives

Ed Miliband has arrived at the Sky studios in west London.

Ed Miliband arriving at Sky
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T20:06:33.215Z">at 8.06pm GMT</time></p> </div>

7.50pm GMT

But what do the real voters think? We have 60 on standby to give their view as part of our polling project with BritainThinks, which is following voters in five key seats through the campaign.

Each of the 60 has been given a smartphone app that will enable them to tell us their instant verdicts on the leaders as they speak, giving you a snapshot of opinion among people whose votes in key marginals could decide who gets the keys to Downing Street.

Remember to refresh the blog regularly, as these opinions will be added to older posts as they come in to make sure they don’t break up the chronological flow of topics discussed by Cameron and Miliband.


7.36pm GMT

My colleague Rowena Mason is at the “spin room” at the Sky studios where the Cameron/Miliband showdown will take place.

It is not exactly buzzing, she says.


7.28pm GMT

How many people are likely to watch tonight’s programme? My colleague John Plunkett, the Guardian media correspondent, has sent me this.

Predicting TV ratings is a mug’s game - so here goes.

Channel 4 and Sky News will be hoping for a combined audience of at least 2 million viewers for tonight’s election opener with Cameron and Miliband.

The 2010 debates did huge ratings, with more than 9 million viewers tuning into the opening head-to-head on ITV. But this isn’t a debate and Channel 4 didn’t have one last time, so there’s no precedent.

The good news for C4 and Sky is that there’s not much competition, up against BBC1’s The Truth About Calories and The Triplets Are Coming! on ITV (and Jimmy McGovern’s acclaimed drama Banished on BBC2).

Channel 4 had 1.7 million viewers in the slot last week for its Trevor Phillips documentary, Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True, while Sky News tends gets 500,000 viewers or more during big breaking news stories.

So a combined audience of 2 million-plus – the sort of audience BBC1 gets for Question Time – is the target. More than 3 million and Paxo will have truly stuffed the opposition. They’ll be delighted.

Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown during the 2010 TV debates.
Cameron, Nick Clegg and Gordon Brown during the 2010 TV debates. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T19:53:02.553Z">at 7.53pm GMT</time></p> </div>

7.13pm GMT

Alberto Nardelli

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>Do debates actually affect the polls? <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2015/mar/26/election-2015-could-the-debates-move-the-polls">My colleague Alberto Nardelli has written a shrewd analysis</a>. Here’s his conclusion.</p> <blockquote class="quoted"> <p>The polling data from 2010 shows us that the debates did generate real movement in the polling, even if much of that was erased by polling day.</p> <p>That explains why Cameron is so keen not to have any debates close to polling day – having them some distance out arguably reduces any risk of him performing badly and suddenly falling in the polls. </p> <p>In an election that is closely fought and involves a large number of parties, even small movements like those in 2010 could be sufficient to influence the overall outcome of the vote on 7 May.</p> </blockquote> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T19:44:12.278Z">at 7.44pm GMT</time></p>

7.03pm GMT

Any big broadcasting event like this is a clash between two alpha egos, each determined to assert their superiority. The competition can be brutal.

But I shouldn’t be too harsh about Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley, because they do seem to be making an effort to get on. To make the point, Sky News has released this.

Earlier, Burley was showing Sky viewers the set. She will stand behind a podium ...

Kay Burley on set
Kay Burley on set Photograph: Sky News

... while Paxo gets one of these chairs.

Kay Burley
Kay Burley Photograph: Sky News
<p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T19:45:49.520Z">at 7.45pm GMT</time></p> </div>

6.48pm GMT

If tonight’s debate , sorry showdown, is as jolly as this - Michael Crick doorstepping Jeremy Paxman (his former Newsnight colleague) and challenging him about being a Tory - then we will be fine.


6.40pm GMT

Welcome to tonight's #notadebate coverage

Andrew Sparrow

&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;&lt;/body&gt;&lt;/html&gt;"&gt; <p>Welcome to tonight’s live blog covering ... well, we’re not quite sure what to call it.</p> <p>It is not quite a head-to-head debate between David Cameron and Ed Miliband. But arguably it is the nearest thing we’re going to get to one, because all the other debates or debate-related election events will involve other parties. This is the only one that will pit just these two against each other.</p> <p>And there will be a winner. The Guardian has commissioned a snap poll from ICM and, soon after the event finishes at 10.30pm, we will be publishing the results, which will show who respondents think “won” the contest, as well as who came over as more appealing and more convincing.</p> <p>The event is jointly organised by Sky News and Channel 4 and they are billing it as the #BattleForNumber10 (a terrible hashtag, not least because #BattleForNo10 would have been shorter). On Twitter others are calling it the #notadebate, or #camVmili.</p> <p><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/26/leaders-debates-general-election-2015-david-cameron-ed-miliband-jeremy-paxman">My colleague Rowena Mason has written a guide to the format</a>. Jeremy Paxman is interviewing the two leaders and his co-presenter, Kay Burley, will be moderating as Cameron and Miliband take questions from the audience. And here is a guide to the key timings.</p> <p><em><strong>9pm:</strong></em> The programme starts, with Paxman interviewing Cameron.</p> <p><em><strong>Around 9.25pm:</strong></em> Cameron’s Q&amp;A, moderated by Burley.</p> <p><em><strong>Around 9.45pm:</strong> </em>Miliband’s Q&amp;A, moderated by Burley.</p> <p><em><strong>Around 10.10pm:</strong></em> Paxman interviews Miliband.</p> <p><em><strong>Soon after 10.30pm:</strong> </em>The Guardian’s ICM poll figures are published, here on this blog.</p> <p>The official election campaign hasn’t quite started. But we’re almost there - tonight Downing Street announced the date when parliament will be summoned after the election - and Cameron will face up to Paxman after a rollercoaster day and a half.</p> <p>Yesterday he won rave reviews for his performance in the final PMQs of this parliament.</p> <p>But today he has suffered two difficult defeats: in the supreme court, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/26/supreme-court-clears-way-release-secret-prince-charles-letters-black-spider-memos">where the government has lots its battle to block the publication of secret letters from Prince Charles;</a> and in the Commons, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/26/tory-backbench-rebellion-defeats-hagues-attempt-to-unseat-speaker-john-bercow">where a Tory attempt to introduce a rule change that could pave the way for John Bercow being ousted as Speaker was voted down</a> after a dramatic debate. </p> <p>I will be covering developments in the runup to tonight’s Cameron/Miliband showdown, as well as covering the event itself and bringing you the best reaction and analysis afterwards - as well as full details of that poll.</p> <p>While the event is taking place, we will have a live feed at the top of our blog.</p> <p>And we will also be posting Factcheck analyses as it goes on, and reaction from our panel of floating voters.</p> <p>If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m on <a href="https://twitter.com/AndrewSparrow">@AndrewSparrow.</a></p> <figure class="element element-image" data-media-id="b7083158147aa9bea43f644930236556fd93a22d"> <img src="https://media.guim.co.uk/b7083158147aa9bea43f644930236556fd93a22d/0_0_5154_3100/1000.jpg" alt="Ed Miliband and David Cameron will face audience questions moderated by Kay Burley" width="1000" height="601" class="gu-image" /> <figcaption> <span class="element-image__caption">Ed Miliband and David Cameron will face audience questions moderated by Kay Burley.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: EPA/Sky/Getty</span> </figcaption> </figure> </div> <p class="block-time updated-time">Updated <time datetime="2015-03-26T19:48:26.594Z">at 7.48pm GMT</time></p> <p>guardian.co.uk © Guardian News &amp; Media Limited 2010</p> <p>Published via the <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/open-platform/news-feed-wordpress-plugin" target="_blank" title="Guardian plugin page">Guardian News Feed</a> <a href="http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/the-guardian-news-feed/" target="_blank" title="Wordress plugin page">plugin</a> for WordPress.</p><!-- END GUARDIAN WATERMARK -->