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Chuka Umunna: Election 'going to be very, very close'

Chuka Umunna is on ITV's The Agenda tonight Credit: PA Wire

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has told ITV's The Agenda that he thinks next year's General Election is going to be "very, very close".

The Labour MP said he was annoyed at how a lot of discussion about politics relates to the personalities of the leaders of the parties.

Asked about whether Ed Miliband's message was getting through, Umunna said: "...he is a man of deep beliefs, sincerity, honesty.

"He’s not into the whole PR thing and if we’re honest about it I don’t think there are that many politicians that people attribute those qualities to

"And by the time we get to the next general election hopefully we’ll have the debates and the Prime Minister will stop playing chicken on that, and we’ll have the debates and people will be able to see even more of Ed than they have already."

Also on the panel will be the Editor-In-Chief of ELLE UK, Lorraine Candy, the Chair of the Arts Council England, Sir Peter Bazalgette and the author and Fleet Street Fox blogger, Susie Boniface.

The panel will be discussing campaigns, including ELLE's "This is what a feminist looks like" campaign, Labour's fortunes and power dressing.

The Agenda with Tom Bradby is on ITV tonight at 10:35pm.

Join in the debate using the hashtag #TheAgenda, following us @agendaitv and liking us at facebook.com/tombradbyitv.

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Clegg: 'Compassionate Conservatism is dead or dying'

The panel on tonight's Agenda - Nikita Lalwani, Nick Clegg, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Dom Joly. Credit: The Agenda

Nick Clegg has said that the Budget is one the biggest questions facing politicians at the moment and that: "compassionate Conservativism is dead or dying."

Speaking on The Agenda with Tom Bradby, the Deputy Prime Minister said:

One of the big question for all politicians my party included to explain is as you have to carry on balancing the books of whoever is in power - how do you do that as fairly as possible?

The Conservatives have taken really quite a radical approach. ..They have said they won't ask anyone for a single extra penny in tax to start balancing the books. The only people who will pay the extra burden to fill the black hole in the public finances are the working age poor and the public services they rely on. Now I think that is socially unsustainable and it's very difficult to justify and it doesn't make much economic sense either.

– Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister

Other guests on tonight’s programme are comedian Dom Joly, broadcaster and columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer and novelist Nikita Lalwani.

The Agenda with Tom Bradby to be broadcast on ITV at 10.35pm tonight.

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PM worried TV debates may eclipse election campaigns

The Prime Minister has expressed concern that the leaders' TV debates could detract from "issues" in next year's general election, despite saying he thought they were "good".

Speaking on The Agenda, he said the debate on ITV before the last election "took all the life out of the rest of the campaign" and became a "commentary on who was doing well or badly in the TV debates".

He also said he didn't think Ukip could be included in the debates without offering the same opportunity to the Green Party.

Watch the full discussion on The Agenda on ITV at 10.35pm tonight

Balls 'surprised' Miliband forgot deficit in party speech

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said he was "surprised" that his party leader forgot to mention the budget deficit in his keynote speech to the Labour conference.

Speaking to Tom Brady on ITV's The Agenda, Mr Balls said he having seen the speech beforehand he was surprised at the omission. He said:

Well I had seen the speech a couple of weeks ago so it's one of those things where sometimes in life you can forget the most important things. In that speech, not talking about the deficit.

I knew what was in the speech and therefore I was surprised momentarily. I was surprised, but we are where we are. It's a really hard thing to stand up and make big speeches like that and do it from memory. I think if he could do the speech again it would be in. I think he was as annoyed by it as anybody would be.

– Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor

He also clarified the party's position the mansion tax on the highest value properties, saying there would be special rules for the minority of people who own a house but have little income, but that the tax would apply no matter how long the home was owned.

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