Some quick points.
I don’t think this was a game changer. By which, I mean, I think the pro-Clegg narrative of the last few days should continue. Clegg avoided a smackdown on the EU because Brown was largey in agreement, and although he wobbled and was criticised on Trident there was no killer argument from either Gordon Brown on David Cameron.
Clegg’s opening remarks were very strong. I think the assertion of the importance on climate change was persuasive.
On occasions there was too much focus on anecdotes and detail. All three men seemed listless on Afghanistan and all were searching for something to say on the delightfully loaded question about the Pope. It is fine to express sympathy for the victims of Catholic child-abuse, but it’s not an election issue.
The ‘open’ section was a repeat of last week – In some cases, word for word, it seemed. But the issues are the issues, so perhaps this is neccesary.
Brown stopped smiling: good. But he did tell another pre-scripted joke about kids in the bath, which I was disappointed but not surprised to see the news channels highlighting as their soundbite of choice.
Clegg had his own sound-bite “the old parties” which seemed a little forced and false. However, he made very short work of Bolton’s chuckle about the fact that he was “on the front page of the Telegraph” this morning. It made Bolton look like a bit of a dick and highlighted the inability of the partisan media to influence the election.
On the final pitch, Brown went off piste… and Cameron managed to look mature in response. Clegg’s speech was definitely the strongest of the three, and so I was surprised that the YouGov insta-poll put Cameron ahead overall.
As for the TV presentation: What horrible visuals on Sky News! The news ticker was a distraction, and the constant label announcing what we were watching (in case it wasn’t obvious) cut off the politicians’ chins.
And Christ! The pre- and post-debate pundit was excrutiating. A clubby and cliquey window into someone else’s party. The BBC’s Emily Maitless gushed t how the “Westminster village has decamped to Bristol” as if she was talking about a load of pretentious English students, on a jolly to Glaspnbury or the Edinburgh festival.
I wrote earlier today that the media is failing to cover this election properly. But in way, that’s alright – Greater exposure to the leaders, and better democratic tools at our disposal, mean that we will make an informed choice on 6th May.