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The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon secured a major pre-election victory by winning the TV leaders' debate tonight.

An average of three snap surveys (ICM, YouGov and ComRes) after the two-hour long debate in Salford showed that the SNP leader had beaten David Cameron to poll position (22% vs 21%).

The research also revealed that Labour leader Ed Miliband and Ukip firebrand Nigel Farage drew for third place as both garnered 20% of the vote.

The historic seven-way showdown came after a 90-minute question and answer session on Sky News and Channel 4, when Miliband and Cameron were grilled by legendary political inquisitor Jeremy Paxman.

But Miliband failed to sink his teeth into the prime minister during tonight's contest as the leaders scrapped for air time.

Farage probably offered the most controversial remarks of the night when he said foreign HIV positive patients should not use the NHS to source expensive antiviral drugs from the NHS.

Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood hit out at Farage over the comment and claimed he "should be ashamed of himself".

"This kind of scaremongering rhetoric is dangerous. It divides communities and it creates stigma to people who are ill and I think you should be ashamed of yourself," she argued.

The debate also hotted up when a heckler, Victoria Prosser, attacked David Cameron over the issue of homeless veterans.

The 33-year-old was reportedly removed from the ITV studio in Salford after the outburst. She later told journalists that she wanted to question the "1% at the top" of British society, "who are not working in our best interests".

22:30

The woman who heckled Cameron during the debate has now been named as Victoria Prosser, from Salford.

The 33-year-old said she wanted to question the "1%" at the top of British society, "who are not working in our best interests".

22:16

But another poll from ICM has put Miliband in first place.

22:11

YouGov have called it for Sturgeon, who had a eight point lead over Farage straight after the debate in a snap poll.

22:03
ITV debate
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The leaders have now made their closing remarks. Bennett told people to vote "for what you believe in" and warned not to "vote for lesser of two evils".

Wood kept with her anti-austerity theme and claimed for a stronger Wales, "give your vote to Plaid Cymru".

Miliband stressed that he would work hard for everybody and stop tax avoidance, while cutting the deficit every year he is in power.

Liberal Democrat leader Clegg repeated that his party would not allow a future government to "lurch" to the left or right. "When you vote, vote to keep country stable, strong and fair," he urged.

Sturgeon, meanwhile, kept it simple. She said for a "louder voice in Scotland" vote for the SNP.

21:50

We've got our first heckle of the night. Homeless servicemen and fracking appeared to be her gripes. The woman has been reportedly removed from the studio.

21:44

21:36

The debate has now moved onto young people what the parties would do to make youngsters feel optimistic.

Wood says Plaid Cymru want to offer free tuition fees , but claims because of austerity the party can't.

Miliband, however, says he will help out be abolishing exploitative zero-hours contracts.

Cameron, meanwhile, argues that his government's Help to Buy will help young people get on the property ladder and the prime minister stressed that a Tory government would create an extra two million jobs.

Elsewhere, Bennett argues that education is a public good and should be paid for by progressive taxation.

Clegg, who infamously broke his pledge on cutting tuition fees, blames Labour for "jacking up" the fees.

Sturgeon, who explains she is from a working-class background, argues that she will always fight to university fee.

Finally, Farage argues that the social mobility gap is increasing and the decision to move away from grammar schools has hurt those looking to climb the education and jobs ladder.

21:28

Farage finds an unlikely ally in Wood on his immigration point.

21:26

It's all getting a bit shouty. Again, Cameron claims Ukip will help Miliband get into Number 10.

21:20

A snap poll from ComRes showed that Farage was ahead of the other six party leaders at half-time. Can the Eurosceptic maintain his lead for another hour?

21:16

Ouch! The two right-wing leaders have just had a scrap. Farage claims that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is "the real boss in the EU" and states you cannot renegotiate free movement of people.

Cameron, however, said Farage is "just a back to Labour, which will give us an open door to immigration".

21:12

21:10

On the issue, Sturgeon says we need to "recognise that there is a strain on housing and public services"; Wood argues "we should not allow rhetoric that blames immigration for ills" and Miliband says his government would "offer control" but not cut the UK off from the rest of the world.

21:05
Nigel Farage
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ITV have gone to a short break. Up next is immigration. We're sure one of the leaders will attack Cameron over his failed pledge to reduce net migration to the UK to less than 100,000.

21:02

20:59

Midland and Cameron are now locked together in a head-to-head over the NHS.

The Labour leader claimed the Health and Social Care Act was a "recipe for privatisation" and if you slash social care, you "undermine" the NHS fundamentally.

But the Tory leader hit back. He argued that Miliband was "scaremongering" and mentioned the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal, which happened under Labour.

20:54
TV debates
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Bennett argues that the Coalition Government have privatised the NHS and the act has caused "huge damage". "We are racing towards an American system," the Green leader argues.

Farage, however, repeats his point that health tourism is costing the UK too much.

The Ukip leader says there are 7,000 diagnoses each year for HIV. 60% are not British nationals and drugs costs £25,000 a year, he claims.

20:49

Farage argues that health tourism costs the UK £2bn a year and declares that foreign workers should have health insurance.

Miliband, meanwhile, attacks the prime minister over Accident and Emergency waiting times, citing official data that shows his government have missed their targets.

Elsewhere, Clegg says the question is simple: "who has a plan to put an extra £8bn in to NHS?". The Liberal Democrat leader says you are only going to get if you ask the wealthy to pay more.

20:43

20:41

20:40

Wood, Bennett and Sturgeon have found common ground one again. The leaders are against the privatisation. Wood, for example, says the service faces a threat from austerity and centralisation from Labour in Wales.

20:36

The debate has now moved onto the NHS. Terry, a member of the audience, asks the leaders how they will fund the health service and keep it as a public service.

20:35