Our citizen's panel in latest assessment

Sarah HallWith Gordon's gaffe and the final televised leadership debate, it's been an eventful week in the election campaign. But how are the three party leaders doing?Sarah Hall

With Gordon's gaffe and the final televised leadership debate, it's been an eventful week in the election campaign.

We asked the EDP citizen panel, a range of people from around the county, for their views on the race for number 10.

The first time voter


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Callum Ringer is a 21-year-old first time voter who lives in Bodham with his parents and is a bar worker. He has been in Austria for the past week but managed to keep up with the election campaign using the internet.

He said: 'To be honest Gordon Brown went up in my estimation after what he said. It let us see him in a more human light and we all know bigotry is alive and well in Britain.

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'I think he did all right in the debate and in all of them he's done better than I thought he would. But I think Nick Clegg has been the winner in all three.

'People my age have really got into him. Girls of 17 and 18 are writing that they love Nick Clegg on their Facebook sites.'

The working man

Jim Lingwood, 52, is a fisherman who lives near Sheringham. He is married with five children. He said: 'It was quite a faux pas by Gordon Brown wasn't it? You have to be careful when you're in the public eye.

'I listened to some of the debate and I thought Nick Clegg did all right. David Cameron also knows his stuff but Brown just slagged the others off and came across as very negative.'

The businessman

Chris Higgins, 55, is landlord of The Trafford Arms pub in Grove Road, Norwich. He is married to Glynis and has two daughters, a son and a stepson.

He said: 'I did feel a modicum of sympathy for Gordon Brown. We have all said things about people but luckily we don't tend to have a microphone on. It has got to be a pivotal moment.

'I caught some of the debate and I have a sneaky feeling that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are going to end up forming an alliance.'

The family man

Married father-of-two James Leeds, 32, lives in Kirby Bedon and works as a computer programmer. He said: 'I think Gordon Brown was fine. I was quite enamoured with him really. I think anybody else would have been swearing. I think she was a bit of a bigot and it was fair enough. It's nice to see him being a bit more human.

"I think it's just the press blowing it up. Everybody I know on Twitter is saying fair enough, good on him.'

He said he had still not made up his mind which way to vote but he had narrowed it down to a choice between Labour and the Lib Dems.

The pensioner

Steve Rees, a retired teacher, 64, who lives in Vauxhall Street, Norwich, is a volunteer community leader who works closely with city and county councillors.

He said: 'The Mrs Duffy thing was a bit of a hiccup. It could have happened to anybody, to be quite honest. It's just unfortunate it happened to the one person who is going to suffer most.'

He also found this week's debate the best of the three, but still felt the parties were not coming clean on the question of cuts and tax rises.

And he is still likely to vote Green on May 6.

"It was the healthiest debate, we have had so far. There was a lot more that came out, but they are still not saying what the deficit is and how we are going to tackle it. It's a complete nonsense. I think people are going to get increasingly angry between now and next week.'

The lone parent

Lone parent Julie Briggs, 36, lives in Hethersett with her four-year-old son Campbell. She said of Gordon Brown's blunder: 'It was very unfortunate. I feel quite sorry for him, especially so close to the vote.

'But I don't think it has changed my opinion of him or of the Labour party. I still think he's the best politician of the three leaders. He's a good old fashioned politician and it isn't all about PR and performance with him.'

She added she was concerned the leadership debates had turned the election into a popularity contest and said: 'It's made the public more aware of the election, but we haven't heard very much concrete about the policies. You have to go away and do your own research and read newspapers to get that.'

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