Ed Miliband last night claimed that he has been underestimated, and that he is tough enough to be elected Prime Minister in six weeks’ time.
The Labour leader cited his interventions on phone hacking, the energy markets, Syria, and even his decision to take on his brother David for the party leadership, as evidence of his resilience.
Miliband tried to defuse strong questioning from the veteran broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, by taking an aggressive approach to the interviewer.
During a grilling from Paxman, as well as Kay Burley, and a studio audience, both he and David Cameron answered questions on various topics.
Cameron continued to emphasise his party’s record on the economy, saying there were “1,000 more people in work everyday” now. He did though concede he would not be able to live on a zero-hours contract, and did not detail where further cuts to welfare would fall.
He said he wanted to find efficiency savings of £1 for every £100 spent by the government, but struggled when questioned on his failed pledges on immigration and NHS reorganisation.
The economy was the subject on which Miliband proved weakest. However, when Paxman asked if he was tough enough to be PM, Miliband replied: “Am I tough enough, hell yes I’m tough enough.”
In a more personal moment, Miliband said the contest against his brother had been “bruising”, but that the relationship was “healing”.
When asked if he regretted anything about the previous Labour government, Miliband said its approach to immigration and bank regulation were things he was sorry for.
Despite his stronger-than-expected TV performance, Miliband lost out in polling conducted after the clash. One poll by ICM gave the Prime Minister an eight point advantage. However, the polling also indicated that Miliband did better at winning over crucial undecided voters.