To be completely original lets have a look at the debate. It was fairly long but I don't think it got as slow and sterile as Cameron thought it might. No-one had a really game changer tonight, there was no moment of genius and no awful gaffe that will have changed things dramatically. I think supporters of each will come away thinking their guy came out on top because there was nothing drastically new bought out, just what we've heard. As for the instant polls that are coming out, they all say completely different things and don't matter anyway. What matters is the impact the debates had on the marginal seats and there voters.
The major thing that tonight bought was what everyone expected but more dramatically, Nick Clegg seems to be getting a lot of support for his part in it. From Lib Dems point of view it was perfect, their guy was up their with the big dogs, with no pressure and no one daring to challenge him seriously in case they needed the support in a hung parliament. I think a hung parliament might be more likely after tonights debate if the other two go to form as marginal seats could go Lib Dem and leave no party with a majority. I don't think that Clegg's performance has done enough to win him PM, but barring the other two resigning on stage I don't think anything was ever going to do that.
Here's a quick look at the various topics, it would be too long to do massive detail:
Crime - All three wanted more police on the beat. Cameron talked about stripping away the bureaucracy to let police do what they needed to do. Brown talked about the increasing numbers of police over the previous years. Clegg wanted an overhaul of the system which would stop people in prison from re-offending, no support from other parties on this, think that might be a mistake on their parts. Brown made his first joke, possibly this year, about him smiling on the conservatives posters, in fact he looked pretty cheery throughout most of it. He's obviously been putting in his practice.
Education - The question was really good for this, it talked about the grades driven nature of schools in the UK which stops genuine learning. Gordon Brown started by talking about how we need to keep up competitiveness to keep in line with the rest of the world. Cameron pretty much agreed with this by saying he wanted to keep all external marking. Clegg talked about scaling down the curriculum to get away from central control which would leave more control with teachers. Cameron stressed the importance of discipline in schools and that headteachers should have the right to over-rule appeals panels. I don't agree with that policy, those panels are there to stop bad mistakes as a knee-jerk reaction. I think all of them were guilty of descending into talk of spending rather than talking about the important issue of how to get real education rather than this target-driven system.
Military - I don't want to go into the various comments here because they all talked about the same things. The thing that came out of this was Clegg's despise of the trident deterrent which he repeated several times. This is a dangerous line, even though I agree with it. The general public have fear of terrorism and they won't give up Trident lightly, I think it was a brave move.
Elderly Care - All the parties here seemed to want cross-party agreement on this and all supported respite for carers. I did particularly like the Labour policy here for free care once a person has been in care for 2 years.
No-one scored here as they all agreed with each other.
Closing Argument -
Clegg - 'Give real change a chance'
Brown - 'Money has to be in the economy this year to maintain growth'
Cameron - 'Choose hope over fear' (Soundbite of the night for the papers I'd imagine.)
As for my spin on the whole thing, I think Clegg did excellently and Brown did much better than expected. On question time afterwards there seems to be a lot of waivering support for Cameron, he had the most expectation and it hurt him as it was difficult to live up to. John Sergeant made a telling point, of the three Clegg had the most style but Brown looked like the prime minister. He looked stern and serious and made his points well without being as stylish as the other. I thought it was interesting that Cameron talked about how great the country was when much of his campaign has focussed on 'Broken Britain', has he had a change of heart. This will give a bump up to Labour and the Lib Dem's but the Tories have a lot of work to do. Especially considering the fact that the Tory spin doctors are lightweight compared to the other two parties, the others have well-oiled machines. We'll see how the polls over the next few days have to say on who the winner was.
Want a different look? http://are-you-reading.blogspot.com/2010/04/election-debate-1.html