Newshub Leaders Debate: Who won?

Jacinda Ardern and Bill English.
Jacinda Ardern and Bill English. Photo credit: Lloyd Burr/Newshub.

The Newshub Leaders Debate was a fiery affair, with both leaders making big commitments.

National leader Bill English committed to bringing 100,000 children out of poverty over the next three years, while Labour's Jacinda Ardern said she would take abortion out of the Crimes Act.

The leaders were quicker off the mark and shed some of the starchy politeness of the previous leaders debate.

The mood of the day was set by National Finance spokesperson Steven Joyce - and that mood was combative. On Monday morning Mr Joyce claimed Labour's fiscal plan has an $11B hole, which Labour's Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson spent the day refuting, saying it's National who got Labour's numbers wrong.

Jacinda Ardern after the debate.
Jacinda Ardern after the debate. Photo credit: Newshub.

While there was some dissent over who won the debate, the bulk of Newshub's panel gave the night to Ms Ardern.

Morgan Godfrey said Ms Ardern felt like the Prime Minister in waiting, saying the reason was because "she got to speak about vision and values".

Fairfax's Tracy Watkins said Ms Ardern was "not as nervous" this time around, but said both Ms Ardern and Mr English "came out firing."

But commentator Matthew Hooton said Mr English won the debate with his commitment to reduce child poverty.  "Bill English's historic announcement that he wants to reduce child poverty by 100,000 in about two and a half years was the most major and important aspect of the debate," he said.

Bill English after the debate.
Bill English after the debate. Photo credit: Newshub.

Annabelle Lee from Three's The Hui said Ms Ardern was the winner. "It's one thing to be relentlessly positive. It’s another to debate with compassion and conviction as she did tonight,” Ms Lee said.

Over at Fairfax, Stacey Kirk said Ms Ardern was left on the back foot, which she wrote "was exactly what National campaign manager and finance spokesman Steven Joyce had planned earlier in the day when he briefed media of what he believed to be an $11.7b hole in Labour's fiscal plan."  

But she concluded Ms Ardern "performed admirably" on numbers and she believed the debate was a tie.

For what it’s worth, punters on Newshub's completely unscientific Facebook poll were backing Ms Ardern over Mr English.