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Debate 1: And the winner is... the UK electorate

Nick Robinson | 00:09 UK time, Friday, 16 April 2010

The first ever prime-ministerial debate will be remembered not - as so many predicted - for a gaffe or a scripted put-down or a bead of a sweat. It will be remembered as a serious debate about serious issues and, I suspect, the first of many election debates to come.

Politically it is the emergence of Nick Clegg as a serious player in this election which will prove to be most significant. The Liberal Democrat leader was given a great opportunity to introduce himself to the millions of voters who scarcely knew him and he took it with gusto.

The question is whether instant polls suggesting that he "won" the debate can be converted into increased support for his party. If so, what matters is where will that support come from.

With a hung parliament a very real possibility, and with many voters saying that they like the idea of parties working together, the Lib Dems are certain to find themselves wooed, attacked and scrutinised with renewed vigour.

The dynamic between David Cameron and Gordon Brown, their personalities and their policies did not fundamentally change as a result of this debate, but there is now a third unpredictable factor at play with three weeks to go and two more debates.

Comments

Page 1 of 10

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick~Of course, the winner(s) during the Leadership debates in the United Kingdom was the British electorate...And, also, the leaders of the political parties for answering the questions!

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Nick Clegg was the only person who talked about working across parties to solve some of society's big problems. This is the kind of mature grown up politics we need to deal with our current problems.

    It is time to end this 2 party state. This isn't a country that has to be either run by Labour or Tory. There is another way, and I and many other voters would like to see an electoral system that recognises the share of votes in this country once and for all.

  • Comment number 6.

    Please B.B.C. can we have more of a debate and less moderation. I watched for twenty minutes it was just like question time with Mr Brown and co. Less management more quality discussion.

  • Comment number 7.

    The reason why Nick Clegg supposedly 'won' is that neither Cameron or Brown laid into him; he was given an effortlessly easy ride, as the two 'big guns' trained their sights on one another...

    If this translates to a boost in Lib Dem poll ratings, it's going to hurt Labour most (they're closest to the LDs), so you can bet your bottom dollar than Brown will be spitting pins tonight, and will end the Labour-Lib Dem 'love in' - empty, expedient words about PR and all - before the next debate starts!

    Brown was frigid, but then again we always thought he would be. He simply is a poor performer.

    Most interesting to me is what Cam is up to. Tonight's performance was subtle, slow to get going, quite 'agreeable', polite and not aggressive. He resisted political bun fighting and mud slinging and tried to look like an incumbent PM (and succeeded). This may have resulted in the lack of a points win on the night, but he might actually gain in the long run, seeming like the PM before he really is. We shall see...

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    The hardest thing for Nick Clegg will be maintaining the momentum in next week's TV debate, the big two will now be gunning for him. Brown came across as his usual uncomfortable self, his continued smirk after the airbrush pun was very unnerving. I just hope the mindless hardcore, traditional Labour supporters will now realise that the Lib Dems are the party who offer them the best deal. This should be made clear by Clegg in the last debate without sounding too much like a 'pinstripe Scargill'. Cameron did as well as he could considering, he stands the most to lose from these debates his priority is surely minimising gaffes which he did well (apart from China, perhaps?).

    As a side issue... will the politicians rotate their positions week on week? Being in the middle seems to be the most vulnerable position.

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick Clegg had nothing to lose in this debate, and certainly he looked the most confident and assured. He has thrust himself intothe limelight and deservedly toping the poles after round 1 of the first ever Prime Ministerial debate.

  • Comment number 11.

    Unbelieveable!! Your first debate, and your candidates are behaving more respectfully and properly than our candidates have behaved for at least the past decade!! No straying off topics, no refusing to answer questions, plenty of interupting one another with valid rebuttles to add to the argument with no prodding and encouraging from the moderator whatsoever as is often needed here, and the best part of all? The very real possibility of a Liberal Democrat victory!! With our electoral college, different states' voting registration rules and debate rules clearly stipulating that a candidate cannot participate in the debate unless they have the support of at least 10% of the population, the chances of an Independent candidate finding the same success here are slim to none.

    Perhaps we should Britishise our democracy?


    Well done!

  • Comment number 12.

    I thought the debate was sterile and stage managed. The restrictions on who could say what, when and about what stifled proper debate and the audience stupefied into non-reaction was ridiculous. However my main disappointment was David Cameron. Why did he not put more gusto into defending the Tory position and debunking Brown? I really hope he gets his act together because on this showing we will get more Brown and Labour and what we need is change. I really cannot believe this country is stupid enough to trust this lot we have had with its lies and spin over the past 13 years are going to sleepwalk into another 5 years of the same incompetence and muddle headed thinking.

  • Comment number 13.

    My wife and I watched the debate. Did we miss something? The consensus seems to be that Clegg was best, but we thought Cameron was the only one who got our attention. Seems we live on a different planet.

  • Comment number 14.

    It was intriguing. Nick Clegg put in a good performance, Gordon Brown was predictably poor but it was David Cameron who I think came off worst. Not because he was poor, he just didn't deliver.

    It hasn't changed my mind one bit though. It doesn't matter what colour is flying above the door of No.10 come election day because the main parties are part of the same rotten core that has governed our country for over 60 years and progressively taken us further into decline. If it wasn't the Tories torching hundreds of billions of oil revenues on tax cuts for their rich friends, giving away our utilities, systematically destroying our public transport and killing off our heavy industry it was Labour pouring hundreds of billions of pounds into PFI, bank bailouts, the funding of cronyist quangos and a bloated, resource guzzling state.

    Now the coffers are dry, we have record debt - both structural and personal and the next generation will have to face further cuts to our services and watch this once great country slip further into decline.

    Its not a change of Government we need, it is the whole system of governance. Sadly I don't see this happening any time soon, if at all.

  • Comment number 15.

    Great that TV debates have finally happened. Representation for the Lib Dems at last. Take them down at the ballot box Clegg.

  • Comment number 16.

    I enjoyed the debate and I think it's a great way to get the public more involved, but it came across as a little too staged. Not a single peep from the audience....
    David Cameron let himself down a little and didn't use the ammunition he has to make his party's point come acoss strongly. He should take a leaf out of Nick's book for round 2 and show that he is the strong leader he's been making himself out to be.
    A little disappointing if I'm honest but congratulations to Nick Clegg who embraced the opportunity to educate voters with gusto.

  • Comment number 17.

    I'd just like to say, having not watched the debate through being at practise, a lot of people i have spoken to like Libdem, but are too scared that the tories will get the majority vote so decide to vote labour, if this is our democracy, we do not live a free life, our democracy FAILS if this is the case, people should just vote for the party they agree with most, and that should be that, that way, we get the will of the people, not the politicians.

  • Comment number 18.

    Watching the debates I think that Nick Clegg came of quite well in this and did show to have dome good policies. Having been a life long Labour voter out of a 'lesser of two evils' I would be swayed to vote Lib Dem for a proper and frank democratic change. Under the current voting system this will never be the case and as for a hung parliament this is not something I would like to see as the majority party would have to woo the Lib Dem's into a difficult position.

    If the voting change were to come about it would be good to see some kind of a way of setting the majorities of seats held be put into some kind of a realistic pegging to let the voters have some kind of a real choice between say the top five parties and see what this would do for a better vote.

  • Comment number 19.

    Sure, it is great to have a debate, but it was pretty mute really, nothing much said, and no real attack. Sad

  • Comment number 20.

    I think it is interesting that the Lib Dems have been consistently on target to loose about 10 seats according to most polls, perhaps because the anti Iraq war feeling is not around any more.

    I wonder if these debates will allow the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg to make up this ground and hold station in terms of parliamentary seats, or perhaps even exceed this and actually gain more seats than they current have.

    But the question is, How much will an unusual surge in support for the Lib Dems be at the expense of the Labour party? and would it actually assist a Tory majority?

  • Comment number 21.

    i thought clegg's constant claim... "the other two are just the same" was ok to start with, but became tedious as he continued to use it throughout.

    brown is praying for a hung parliament - i cant recall a single attack on libdem policies. weak jibes and telegraphed jokes, referring to any topic as "[ideal scenario] is what we are working hard to achieve" with no mention of actual action taken.
    i found it physically sickening when he spoke of his father running boys clubs and the importance of giving children sports to occupy them - this from the seller of most of our playing fields/tennis courts, and to state that he and his party had introduced screening for cancer, was just plain wrong.

    cameron disappointed as well, brown's previous actions presented him with many targets to aim at, yet he stepped back from it and didnt go for him? why not?

    maybe im old fashioned, but i like politicians that attack their opponents, nail them on issues and pressure them.
    too much wanting concensous, i want accountability, if they are in office and they mess up, i dont want an apology months/years down the line, i want a resignation not promotion. with the borrowing each year currently equal to 12% of britain's total output, and billions of debt being kept off the UK's balance sheet to protect our country's credit rating, heads should roll!

    in all other walks of life, prison and prosecution would follow such action, in british politics, they get the chance for another 5 years of the same.

  • Comment number 22.

    Nice to see Nick Clegg given a decent opportunity to speak and be heard.

    Gordon Brown showed his belligerent bad manners by talking over his time, his opponents and his chairman. His grins do concern me - they seem very strangely inappropriate. I know he is shy (apparently) but he did seem completely lost.

    David Cameron surprised me - I was expecting the spark and fireworks from PMQ's but saw a performance full of gravitas and graciousness.

    Nick Clegg - the man with nothing to lose - and yet came across as convincing and personable.

    I know it's all supposed to be about the policies, but people buy the policies from the leaders. NC caught everyone by surprise I think. I especially liked the way he seemed to be able to engage with both the studio and TV audiences. Whether LibDem policies will work, heaven only knows, but my goodness he was believable. Very confident and relaxed (but then he has nothing to lose, and everything to gain....)

    DC came a close second - I liked the statesmanlike demeanour. Unfortunately, he was outshone by NC because I have yet to see DC 'click' on a personal level with people the way the NC was able to do. He did really touch on some good stuff - immigration, discipline in schools and NHS - shame about the China thing - after all, why would they nuke everyone that buys their goods?! I liked the way he spelt out the money spending (eg £1 out of every £4) - makes it easier to understand than all those zeros.

    GB was a sad case. It seemed as though he really shouldn't be there and was only in attendance because the organisers were being politically correct. Predictable mention of Lord Ashcroft. I almost feel sorry for him that he was completely outclassed by the other two.

    The main reason Nick Clegg was the best for me tonight was that he was talking TO people not AT them like the other two. I'm not sure if it's a skill that is innate or learned, but he's damned good at it!

    Now he's shown he's not a lightweight, he's got to keep it up - easy to get the high ground, a lot harder to keep it!

    Well done Nick, you've made everyone sit up and notice.



  • Comment number 23.

    Yes - Nick Clegg relaxed, assured, a clear winner. David Cameron jittery, defensive, unable to look Gordon in the eye.Gordon - surprisingly good but wooden compared to Nick. Interesting.

  • Comment number 24.

    While many can agree that Nick Clegg performed well. My question is this. Does he have the charisma, the authority and the personality to lead Great Britain? Would he look like Mr oridnary along side Barack Obama?
    Preferably Cameron but also Brown have the personality to lead such a great country and they have a powerful party behind them built up over hundreds of years and strong principles.
    On a national stage would Nick Clegg and the liberal democrats be seen as weak? I think so.

  • Comment number 25.

    Sorry Nick, I did not see a single leader on that stage!

    I am 19 and this will be the first General election I have the 'pleasure' to be voting in and some things seem obvious to me.

    Firstly, the reason why Gordon Brown is doing well isn't because his policies are better...frankly people are sick of his policies and we all know and feel it.
    The reason is you look on stage and firstly look at David Cameron, a slick businessman who has excellent presentation skills but this is NOT a PowerPoint presentation to the staff. The UK is DESPERATE for a strong leader, a guy who can stand up on that stage and cut through the political script and be passionate and powerful about what he says.
    Someone that did what Berlusconi did for Italy, unite a nation behind something solid, substantial, a father figure of a desperate nation.
    We are dealing with social meltdown, red tape, international unpopularity, loss of purpose, loss of identity.
    When Cameron and Clegg start using thin token words such as 'fair' and 'change' it just doesn't quite cut it, we all saw it with Obama...who are you trying to fool guys?!
    Gordon Brown, although a complete was/has and never again been, is still more presentable as a leader to people because he looks solid, they know what they are going to get. I dislike the labour party in all their entirety but that's what makes this so difficult to watch over the past few years.
    Cameron is failing to gain overall momentum in polls at a time when the country is seriously questioning the deluded, tax-squandering ape-like figure in the PM chair. The public just don't like Cameron at the head of the Conservative Party...simple...at least he could have 'balanced the ticket' as it is called in the states.
    Young, 'Mr Change', professional politician in the driving seat and an experienced, no-nonsense bloke in the rear with the Chancellor seat. Barack Obama did it with the installation of Joe Biden! If youth and charm doesn't work you always have experience and calm to fall back on. No-one is going to give money to a boy at the door unless they are with the Scouts...and this Tory boy has just gone collecting with an equally stupid looking mate.
    The idea that Cameron would be the figure head of Britain makes people grimace inside and out.
    Moving onto Nick Clegg the same could be said, however, people from all sides of the spectrum can respect the economic professionalism of Vince Cable and probably look at him as the real force behind the Liberal effort. With Clegg however, in a time when people want fresh they didn't mean in the face. They meant no less of the same which was a New Labour Blair and Brown young hotshot era. I have never found fighting fire with fire more futile as in the Lib-Con eternal struggle, it is embarrassing to watch them swan around, change party logos, call for change and do everything under the sun to be an 'every-bodies man'. You called a brick layer to fix a wall, not to come around and show off their tool set, comment on your shirt and then insist you need a fence.
    I can understand the complete disillusionment felt by the poor, frustrated people of Britain who want someone to get the job done and do it well. At the same time people want to be proud to have them promoting this country for the gem it is/was. Instead we see these 'leaders' stamping on its pride with woolly policies, treating its citizens like brain dead idiots and being ambiguously honest on ambiguously irrelevant policies. Someone help this country!

    For better times ahead,

    Frank Mario

  • Comment number 26.

    Cameron seemed to me to just be regurgitating the same old Tory policies, more money for the rich and take money out of the public services which the common people who can't afford to pay for private depend upon... the only difference is now he's interspersing them with some personal anecdotes of the people he's met to make him seem like he cares.

    Oh and anyone can highlight the 1 in a million sob story, the victim of the criminal who happened to be released early, the drugs that do just cost the PCT too much for a handful of poor unlucky people - but he's not a tabloid newspaper peddling gossip, he's supposed to be a politician, so he should talk stats and figures and evidence not 'Well my old mom knew someone who said this...'

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm surprised by how well Nick Clegg has come out of the debate. He generally focussed on the negative aspects of the other parties, rather than what the Lib Dems actually had to offer and he continually talked of his party promoting change, while actually not offering a great deal of actual change and not even having the most radical manifesto of the three parties. He also was keen to label Cameron and Brown as negative all too often, despite Cameron being quite comfortably the most positive candidate on the night. Clegg's performance presumably came across well due to his informal, just a normal guy style and the reluctance of the other two to attack him at all, presumably as they don't consider him a threat. It will be interesting to see how they react to him next time.

    Brown's entire campaign is based on not being a Tory and will get him nowhere frankly. Labour needed a boost from the debates and it is clear that Brown is not capable of giving them one. His policies are weak, his rhetoric negative and his attempts at humour either patronising, unimaginative or both.

    Cameron did reasonably well, although there is room for improvement. He refused to be drawn into the negativity shown by the other two candidates and was at least prepared to speak about his policies (as was Clegg but not Brown). However, there was a notable lack of 'Big Society' which there needs to be more of, and he didn't defend himself against some of the allegations put to him nor did he point out holes in the Lib Dem policies as well as he might. He also repeated himself too often, mainly on national insurance. His closing speech was very good though and truer to the style of the rest of his campaign. More of that and he should come out on top over the next few weeks.

    Debate itself was decent without being great, host was poor and interrupted too often, especially at the beginning, although to be fair he did seem to get better towards the end and ensured that if any direct allegations towards any individual were made, they were able to answer it.

  • Comment number 28.

    #20 Rich

    your last paragraph-hadn't thought of that-brilliant assessment. 'What if' suddenly became 'could be'!

    Does anyone know what the last moments were about? I mean the mad dash of stage to shake hands and scarlet by GB, followed by NC more calmly, but called back by DC, 2 on stage then all off???

    It seems they actually get on, so a Conservative win, LibDem in opposition and Labour with the rank and file could be much closer than originally thought. Or even roles reversed if NC keeps this up!

    Heavens above, what would poor old Gordon do without a ballot box of any kind!

  • Comment number 29.

    As an undecided (in a completely meaningless seat) I was fascinated.
    I thought Clegg did very well with his arguments but felt he looked a little nervous and was, at times, dominated by the other two. That said, I did like his lines about working together with the other parties - which he may well have to in the very near future.
    I thought Cameron looked and sounded what I want my PM to look and sound like ..... but i felt there was something he wasn't telling us.
    Gordon Brown - sorry but for a current Prime Minister he was hugely disappointing. He came across as a bit sleazy, a bit smarty pants and I wouldn't trust him with my daughters pocket money.

    Biggest negative for Lib Dems is the nuclear deterrent issue. Not sure that I could sleep at night if we didn't have what N. Korea, Pakistan and Iran (coming soon) have.

    For the Tories - are you really sure that £6bn of savings can be found without destroying the recovery? I wasn't convinced. Some very worrying spectres of pre-1997 Britain emerged and I really don't want to see the country go there again.

    For Labour - this mess is all down to you - no excuses are accepted. I would like a Porsche or Lambourghini but I can't afford it so I haven't bought one. It really is that simple. Tell us you are sorry and exactly what we need to do to get ourselves sorted out. Oh, and by the way, you did run the armed forces into the ground and then commit them to your wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so you are responsible for the unnecessary deaths of lots of service personnel.

    So in summary, I am proably a little more orange than I was before the debate, but still, overall, undecided. Not that my vote will make any difference to the inevitable result in my constituency.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    It seemed to me that Cameron and brown was more interested in slagging each other off while Clegg came off the better; based on this and the Lib Dems manifesto i will be voting for Clegg

  • Comment number 32.

    Being only 21 this election is my first real opportunity to vote as the last time I was an ignorant child who wasn't paying much attention. A few years have since passed and all experiences of government, public sectors, lectures from older generations over my life have been absorbed and observed by my now developed critical adult mind (still in its infancy though).

    This is how I observe the situation. The UK wants (needs) a change and given a good alternative will take it. I get the feeling the majority are sick of Labour, the war, Tony Blair, expenses, recession. There is just this terrible odor lingering around. But If an obvious alternative is not presented the boring safe Brown will be voted back in.

    What is on offer?

    The Conservative's offer a rehash of Tony Blair and no matter how much any Conservative claims David isn't a Tony B, well he is, and he is stuck with that stigma. A country wanting change will only see him as a step backwards. Also David Cameron's debating made me taste vomit in the back of my mouth several times "I have children in school" and "my family this and that" (not direct quotes I know) it was quite soppy and pathetic. I almost felt sexually harassed as he tried to pull at my heart strings.

    The Liberal Democrats - is it me or did Nick Clegg win this debate by a mile. He was assertive and clear on the solutions his party would employ in the situations quizzed on. It's been years since I heard a politician speak without dodging the direct answer. For example, a David Cameron Tony Blair-esque response to the question "what is 4 + 4?" would be "well, when you take a number like four and double it, you define a strong tradition in the culture of the sum. A culture of hearty fours, the people's fours. Do we really want to introduce another number into that context and destabilize it?" Essentially long winded tripe. Nick Clegg it seems would simply state "it is 8 and to prove this if you minus 4 from 8 you get 4"

    My vote currently sits with the Liberal Democrats some will be angered as they'll think "Stupid kid basing his vote on one boring television debate" but little do you know I work in a school and at the end of June I will lose my post as a teacher's assistant because of funding. Also all the time I receive great lectures from a wise man (a teacher named Mr Phillips) of how education has suffered from the acts of regulatory boards introduced by governments pressuring schools that have lead to the dumbing down of teaching and the sapping of joy in education with constant testing of pupils and teachers.

    I think if this nation are truly sick of whats gone on the Liberal Democrats have it all to win.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick Clegg was always going to come out on top in the debate, both other candidates have to use all of their time scrutinising the policies of their only realistic rival for the job of PM. I personally think the debate should have been between the two men with the realistic chance of becoming PM, as it would have been more informative.

    The justification for not including the snp and plaid was that they had no chance of becoming PM. The same is true of clegg.

    If it was due to the Lib Dems share of the vote, surely UKIP should also have been included. They came second in the last national election.

    I would personally welcome a change to PR, as it would give voters a real choice and stop parties squabling over the centre ground. The idealogical debate that would exist if UKIP on the right and Respect on the left were given more voice would be healthy for democracy.

  • Comment number 34.

    Thought NC was superb tonight in some respects. DC I found to be quite vague when talking about policies etc and GB was frankly very poor. He is evidently highly uncomfortable in these situations.

    Regarding the LibDems Trident issue... I don't know if someone could clarify this for me but are they saying that they want to rid the UK of all nuclear weapons or just the Trident system itself, therefore replacing it with something more modern/cost effective?

  • Comment number 35.

    Nice to see the high level of hypocrisy at work during the debate where the audience were hand picked, completely silenced and not even allowed to applaud. How very different from the BBC's rent-a-mob perfomance when the BNP's Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time. It seems the BBC only approve of being fair in the democratic process when the views expressed are in agreement with the programme's producers.

  • Comment number 36.

    The Lib Dem Trident issue was probably the most surprising policy mention of the debate. It now sounds like the Lib Dems don't want to get rid of nukes completely. This will be reassuring to those voters who still see the Lib Dems as the "loony left".

    Whatever the polls say, David Cameron was the clear loser of the debate. He had huge expectations to live up to and did not meet them at all. He was clearly too focused on trying to look like a "nice guy" and lost track of actually getting into any substance.

    Gordon Brown exceeded expectations coming across as unusually coherent and confident. However he repeatedly spoke for too long having to be interrupted and wasted his summing up speech by using it to attack DC.

  • Comment number 37.

    David Cameron deliberately embarrassed Gordon Brown at the close of the debate. Still images available online show DC indicating to Nick Clegg to remain on the stage, and allowing GB to wonder off towards the audience as the credits rolled. Very sly tactics by the conservatives.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nick Clegg only used the fact that his party had nothing to be accounted for in the last sixty-five years as his biggest selling point, there was nothing that actually proved that he was a serious runner. All it proved was that there was another substitute intelligently using all at his disposal to try and make the most of a bad situation. I very much like the idea of an electoral debate on live TV but it just serves more as an instrument for the newcomers than it does for serious politicians. Tonight people are saying Clegg might well be a potential winner of this election, but why? For his ability to pick holes in policies that have been in practice for the best part of a century when his party has no contemporary history to be judged by? I honestly started the debate with a completely open mind, but was rapidly put off by the use of inexperience from the leader of the Lib Dems; he did not prove himself a viable option, he instead took the easy option and picked out existing failures in a government that has not been challenged for sixty-five years.

  • Comment number 39.

    People say that the two parties of Red and Blue will now lay into Clegg come the next debate, which is probably the case. However, if they do, it will be an obvious tactic that's transparent to voters, and if anything will gain him even more support.

    It's about time a non Red/Blue party had a platform, and the one time they get it, they shine the brigtest. Time for change could mean time for a complete change in the way an election turns out. For once, the Lib Dems could actually sway the vote and win... never mind hung scenarios like the press are saying, it could be an overall victory.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'd have said the British electorate were the principal losers last night, presented as they were with a debased, false choice between three men who agree with each other on 90% of policy matters, with alternative voices (including mainstream parties with substantial parliamentary representation) cynically silenced. Forget the high-minded spin - this was a retrograde step for the democratic process, and if it does indeed set a precedent it's one we could well have cause to repent for decades to come.

  • Comment number 41.

    Cameron's closing remarks were the best, the most visionary, but overall Nick Clegg made a good fist of it, appearing in tune with ordinary people.

    Gordon mostly looked like the Churchill dog, nodding in agreement with Cleggy most of the time. I fully expeted an "ohhhh yesssh!" at one point.

  • Comment number 42.

    Until last night Clegg came across as a lightweight version of Cameron. Last night showed it was the other way around!

  • Comment number 43.

    Was it just me or did anyone else think that David Cameron came off decidely worst. He did a 'rabbit caught in the headlights' impression.

  • Comment number 44.

    Wonderful and about time that the middle,conciliatory sensible & fair party has at last had the platform previously occupied solely by The Conservatives and The Labourites. I hope this means that Parliament will rid itself of the sleazy lobbyists and woo back their constituents by empowering them to pay attention and vote. Personally I would love to see at least 1 Green MP in wah Parliament. It would happen if we adopted the European method - After all we are European geographically & if we didn't do things the American way so much we wouldn't be in the mess that we are presently, or be over run with American Culture - like the word Kids to describe our Children The are Human and only rarely behave like young Goats most of the time they are like lambs

  • Comment number 45.

    I didn't need to watch this to find out the winner.

    The winner is no-one. they're all liars and whoever gets in will make all our lives an utterly impoverished misery as they steal everything we own that isn't nailed down to pay off the deficit.

  • Comment number 46.

    There were one or two gaffes. Cameron's toe-curling, plummy use of the term 'black man', and Clegg's insistence on raising the Trident issue. That one issue alone is a deal breaker with the British public.

    No one in their right minds would give up our nuclear deterrent while the likes of Iran, North Korea and a host of other unpredictables continue to pose a very real threat to European and indeed global security.

    Clegg came out of it well, but of course had nothing to lose and everything to gain. The pressure is on: he will now be expected to maintain this level of performance next time.

    Cameron seemed petulant and impatient, and Brown was a well meaning, bumbling old duffer as usual.

  • Comment number 47.

    Ok Clegg 1, Cameron 2, Brown 3...round one
    Topics for Round 2 - EUROPE - fall out of the PIGS, Euro Membership (what if we hads joined Mr Clegg), further intergration which there must be surley following Greece bailout. Oh yes, PROMISED referendums...Cameron has the strongest argument here, he was was not in power so could not call it, the other 2 had promised...NOT delivered. Treaty shmeety

    Topic for round 3 - PENSIONS - State v individual...public v private sector....
    Time for a change - have a nice day i will

  • Comment number 48.

    Mr Robinson's analysis is spot-on. There is no doubt that Mr Clegg was the surprise package last night and he will have improved his party's chances by his performance. In the constituency where I live there is no chance at all of a LibDem victory. But last night's debate (and future ones) will give the LibDems some hope for third place ahead of UKIP in fourth place.
    Mr Brown did his best, but he hardly managed to come across even as the outgoing Prime Minister, never mind the next one.
    Mr Cameron will, I think, be the next Prime Minister - and he strove hard to sound prime ministerial. But he's going to have to think on his feet a bit quicker, or people will think that the other two's jabs are hurting him.

  • Comment number 49.

    I enjoyed the debate much more than i thought i would,i consider my vote "up for grabs" and live in a CON constituency with a small majority over the LIB DEMS,with LAB nowhere,i remember the Thatcher years and this makes it difficult for me to consider the conservatives,but i was open to listen to them,so Cameron had a chance with me,but i really thought he blew it last night..he seemed lightweight and at times annoyed by Gordon Brown,He didnt seem to offer any real policies to me,just vague aspirations and his rebuttal of Nick Cleggs position on trident was poor.
    I thought Gordon Brown did better than i expected,but looked a little too pleased with himself after cracking some little jokes at Camerons expense,but he was very convincing to me on the economy,not fair of Cameron to blame him for the crisis,this would have happened on their watch also.
    For me Nick Clegg was the strongest,i agreed with his stance on almost all issues,i thought he dealt with Cameron very well and avoided the attempts by Brown to woo him,and he was very on Trident and getting his message across,also,it was nice to actually hear him without his comments being shouted down,as they always are in PMq's.
    I shall look forward to the other debates,but for now im in the LIB DEM corner.

  • Comment number 50.

    I liked how Nick Clegg always came back to the question that was asked, whereas the other two went off on tangents and often missed the point of the question - this was especially noticable when they were asked about education.

  • Comment number 51.

    As one of the many people made bankrupt in the 'credit crunch' ,how about an amnesty for such like regarding our credit rating.

  • Comment number 52.

    After 43 years of voting for Labour, Nick Clegg said that there is a 3rd alternative and this time I will probably take it. Nothing new emerged from the two favourites and all they did was try to put each other down. Nobody did that with Nick Clegg except for one occasion when David Cameron reminded him that some of Nick's MPs were involved in the MP expenses scandal. However, there were even more Labour and Conservative MP's involved in that.

    There was little to put down Nick Clegg as he has always been 3rd choice for the electorate so, the two having said so very little, maybe it is time for a big change. I think so as the Liberal Democrats can't do any worse - that's for certain. Nick also came across as a very honest person too which is more than can be said for Gordon and David.

  • Comment number 53.

    What do the Lib Dems really stand for? I'm no clearer based-on Nick Clegg's performance yesterday.

    Aren't they just another flavour of Labour? Tax the hell out of hard working people and support benefit cheats, over-spend on public sector etc.

  • Comment number 54.

    Nick when will the BBC provide a transcript of the debates? Some of us read faster then we hear?

  • Comment number 55.

    " Nice to see the high level of hypocrisy at work during the debate where the audience were hand picked, completely silenced and not even allowed to applaud. How very different from the BBC's rent-a-mob perfomance when the BNP's Nick Griffin appeared on Question Time. It seems the BBC only approve of being fair in the democratic process when the views expressed are in agreement with the programme's producers. "

    So true I posted it again for you!.

    I watched fifteen minutes of this contrived , stage managed drivel, and gave up - far better things to do.
    The audience like , all things hand picked and bullied into submission , behaved like rabbits in the headlights and the political leaders made pre prepared statements.

    A debate is supposed to be a passionate rumbustious exchange - not a PPB.

    Do we have the viewing figures?

  • Comment number 56.

    Nick,
    The winner of the debate is actually the English electorate, with parties outside England cut out of the debate altogether. Of course, we were offered scraps after the programme and the sop of a 'regional' leaders debate next week, but the audience will be a fraction of last night's from the 'regions' due to the enormous media build up for the English event. Oh yes and wasn't the 'this is devolved' statement quaint? Such a shame that it was not explained to the viewers that this effectively meant that the following debate only related to England.

    Thanks a lot for playing your part in royally stitching up Plaid Cymru when you hold your English debate. Can you clarify when Mark Thompson will be changing the BBC in London to the EBC? Oh, and please pass on my regards to Mr Dimbleby, whose recent appallingly inaccurate view of British history may well go some way to explain why the EBC just don't get Wales, or devolution.

  • Comment number 57.

    I must admit that the debate was actually much better than I expected - much more interesting and lively, with the undoubted star being Nick Clegg. I'm sure he will have won over some voters last night with his easy style, and good explanation of some Lib Dem policies.

    Brown came over much better than I expected, though I'm afraid that after 13 years I can't believe a word that comes out of his mouth any more. For instance - how can anyone believe in his promised referenda bearing in mind what happened the last time his Government promised us one?

    Cameron came over as pretty sure footed and open - certainly a contender in the Prime Ministerial stakes. No blinding performance, but very solid.

    How much these debates will affect the voting is anyone's guess. It would be nice to think that the Lib Dems have a chance of Government, if only to break up the cosy two party seesaw that we have now. The problem is, that is highly unlikely, and what they may end up doing is simply splitting the anti Labour vote, letting Gordon Brown back in through the back door.

  • Comment number 58.

    Yet again, typical BBC bias against the Conservatives. The BBC have seen that Brown and his lying, cheating, sleazy, useless, inept mates have got no chance of a majority so have decided that they want to keep the Tories out and are now supporting Nick Clegg and a possible hung Parliment.

    Nick Clegg = Andrew Marr in disguise.......disgraceful

  • Comment number 59.

    I totally agree with #14, the whole dam system is broken and needs replacing, proportional representation, guaranteed "national" referendums and a house of lords made up of ordinary people chosen at random (like jury service).
    I would also have liked to have seen the other party's included in this debate, the BNP, the Greens, UKIP etc as that would have livened things up a bit and allowed the "minority" party's the same exposure as the "main three" which would be a lot fairer and would hopefully open the whole boring election process.

  • Comment number 60.

    and where are the links to the manifestos. Reading the Tory one and the journalists on Thursday convinces me that THEY did not read them? The Tory one is very different from what the Cameroon and wee Govie say in their rants about the localism agenda and education. Which are true... do tell us Nick!

  • Comment number 61.

    If I was part of the English electorate I'd probably opt for the lesser of the two other evils! aka NICK, no not OLD NICK, the other guy but lets see if he can change all the traditions / and other alleged wrong doings. Fortunately this debate meant hee haw to us Scots, but we have an alternative to all three, including our Welsh cousins, the Irish well I'm afraid that's a more difficult question, with some who'd rather use something else other than words.

  • Comment number 62.

    Nicky, we are watch online in butcher’s shop in Smolensk. It was me, wife Irina, boys Pyotr, Lev and Pavel, Yuri assistant, and Old Alexei (local eccentric who dress like 19th Century hussar, who came into shop for glass of goat milk and stay all day). We are enjoy. Have to console our spaniel, Maxim, who is scare when Brown growl and every time Cameron is toot on dog whistle, especially in answers to first question. Also, we are put on dark glasses when Cameron shiny chinless head is on screen. Clogg is win debate for us. He look like our handsome milkman Dmitri, though is speak like geography teacher. We are puzzle by debate about care for elderly. Here in Vlad’s managed democracy, that is what attic is for, and no burden on state.

    Very enjoyable and amazing that leaders is go on for so long without hit each other or have break for drink and smoke.

  • Comment number 63.

    Clegg came out the best? Absolutely not. He was by far the worst. What woolly-headed rubbish he talked about Trident. And his politics of consensus were simply the politics of emptiness. After 90mins, I still don't know what the Lib Dems really stand for.

    I was surprised how well Brown came across, considering the history of his leadership. Cameron, he's a PR man and his rhetoric reflected that.

  • Comment number 64.

    For me Mr Clegg, although a very confident showing, came across as if Hey public, I am one of you, I'm your pal, chum, buddy. These other two are terrible aren't they? They are always arguing..not like me. blah blah blah. Gotta polish my halo now...

    Gordon Brown seemed to spend all his time warning and pleading for voters to not vote for the Tories oh and how much Nick agree's with him.

    David under performed....but I like him..ahem

  • Comment number 65.

    Brown handed Cameron an absolute doozey of a reply when he said the Conservatives would inherit many problems to fix in his summing up. Cameron on script just went on to say what he had been told to say. What a missed opportunty but at the same time, what a staged performance.

    I'd say the PR and media people behind Cameron and Brown were too obvious last night and it showed. Additonally you could feel the lobbying Ashcrofts shoving the answers into Cameron. (No. 1 reason I absolutely won't vote Tory)

    Clegg was the one leader who talked in the moment. It was a quality that early electable Blair had. So Clegg won it for me by being real and revealing more of HIS views.

  • Comment number 66.

    13 years of BIG and unnecessary Government has left us in a huge, debt ridden hole. I thought both Cameron and Clegg represented the need to change that pretty well. Whilst Clegg basked in his new found exposure to the masses, it is quite clear that the only alternative to more of the same dreary, hopeless life in Britain today was represented by David Cameron. Whilst it would be very interesting if the Liberal Democrats took votes from Labour the danger is that Labour would remain in power by the back door if the Liberals were to win seats from the Conservatives. Very scary!

  • Comment number 67.

    Was it Churchill who said that democracy wasn't the best political system, simply the least worst? Looks to me as if the Conservatives are not the best either, just the least worst. As there is not any chance whatsoever of the Lib Dems forming a majority government this time, look at the alternatives.

    If Labour remains in power we will be in for more debt and more taxes, government by Unison and all the other brothers, and at the end of another five years will have lost our identity completely as a separate sovereign country and be simply a region of Europe. If there is a hung parliament the money markets have said they will downgrade us so far that we will have to go to the IMF again (as Labour had to do the only other time it happened to us) and force far more restrictive conditions on us than either of the two main parties have said they would. Except they haven't dared tell us yet what they will be.

  • Comment number 68.

    It was too staged for me. All the leaders had their highs and lows AND missed opportunities. When it did eventually warm up, I think the thing that really stood out for me was the tired Lab/Con slanging match, which is a real turn off.

  • Comment number 69.

    NR you are so wrong , the best bit , which many have missed , but well become apparrent later, just like brown's budgets was the line from
    cameron "WASTING NOW TO TAX YOU LATER" , which has summed up the 13 years of labour and might sum up the future if brown gets back in with the suport of cleggee, Brown will bring down the lib-dems if they are NOT careful,

    We are about to reap the whirlwind of DEDT and DEFICIT after 13 years of waste and tax, the next move for mygrandchildren is crucial. We take the pain for labour's waste, as we had the party , or we give it to my grandchildren its that simple

  • Comment number 70.

    The format was a blessing for Gordon Brown as it checked his normal style of ranting and constant repetition of listing what has been achieved or intended.
    I thought that David Cameron missed a few easy points about gold selling and other more or less accepted Gordon bloomers.
    There were no questions about being swallowed up in the Eurozone and currencies but perhaps that can come later.

  • Comment number 71.

    I found Nick Clegg quite patronising. When talking about our service men and women in Afghanistan, he couldn't have fitted brave into any more sentences if he tried. There is no doubt about it, they are the bravest in the world, but the amount of times he said it, was making me cringe.

    Cameron waqs in danger of saying 'change' too much and Brown tried to steam roller his way through by critizing the other two and rolling out the same Labour rehtoric.

    I would have prefered to have seen each candidate given a fixed amount of time to answer each question and then a further minute or two to comment on their counterparts response.

    Alistair Stewart was inconsistent in his policing of the contendors, perhaps Paxman should have been in there with a stop watch.

    What it comes down to is, do you trust Labour to give us another 4 years after 13 years of failure to deliver or do you go for change?

    Personally, it is time for a new man running the country.

  • Comment number 72.

    Brown got of to a bad start, when he tried to interupt cameron a couple of times in the round of answers tyo the first question. Also, right at the end, the shot of him shaking his head was not good. Showed a lack of respect.

    Cameron made he absolutely cringe when he, not one but twice, raised the subject of his dead son. This really was pretty despicable, and I'm glad Brown didn't respond in kind.

    Clegg got one thing in partilcar right, that the other two should learn from. He spoke to the camera - not the audience. There were millions of voters to be won at home, and possibly a 100 in the studio.

  • Comment number 73.

    A complete waste of time. There was no debate just a series of staements from each "laeder".

    Clegg was, despite, some enthusiastic polling by YouGov, clearly out of his depth and had one manatra "change two party politics".

    The reason we have so called two party politics is simply down to the likes of Clegg who have for the last 80 years failed to convince us that the Lib/dem have any credible policies.

    As to Brown he did Ok

    Cameron was, strangely lacking in confidence and missd the Punch and Judy atmosphere of PMQ's

  • Comment number 74.

    Gordon Browns efforts to cosy up to Nick Clegg were embarrassing and demeaning. You can sense the hand of the spin doctors at work - again. Poor old Nick - I don't think he quite knew how to respond to the invitation to be Gordon's best mate!

  • Comment number 75.

    I have to admit that I enjoyed the debate far more than I thought I would.
    While not being a Liberal Democrat myself, I do find myself agreeing with the general consensus that Clegg came across as generally assured and challenging - Yes the pressure was much less on him but nevertheless, he did step up to the plate and took his chance to impress with both hands.

    No surprises from Brown who performed just as I thought he would - Belligerent and awkward. However, he did rather leave the other two on the back-foot at the end of the debate when he headed towards the audience to shake hands, and there followed the sight of Clegg and Cameron looking at each other and wondering whether to follow.

    Cameron's performance disappointed me though. While all the leaders were clearly nervous at the start,Cameron had the look of a startled rabbit and that did'nt change much as the debate went on. He allowed Brown to bully him too much, and did not hit home any counting punches in his normal clever manner. I really do think he must up his game in time for the next debate as I fear he did not gain much in the way of kudos last night.

  • Comment number 76.

    Of course nobody distrusts the Lib Dems: the last time they were in power they were called the Whigs so what reason does anybody have to distrust them?

    Other than Clegg's incessant 'you can trust us but not the other two parties' mantra, while trying to gloss over the fact that Lib Dems MPs were also culpable in the recent expenses issues, I found his responses to be somewhat vapid except where he was building on what had already been said by Brown or Cameron.

    There's an old saying that goes: 'It's easy not to make mistakes: Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.' That sums up the Lib Dems perfectly in my view.

    To give him his due, Brown didn't do too badly considering the material he has left himself to work with. Cameron's answers struck me as the most well thought out.

  • Comment number 77.

    I thought Nick Clegg did well and came across as a caring approachable person. Gordon Brown was armed with facts and seemed to back up his policies. Davdid Cameron on the otherhand was full of ideas but refused to say how he was going to implement them?
    I would say it was a poorer performance from David Cameron than I expected and he needs to be looking over his shoulder at Nick Clegg who seems to have gained ground on him.

  • Comment number 78.

    I completely agree with Riley 01.09am. What did I miss re Clegg? Thought he came across as bland and uninspiring.His answer to more discipline in the classroom was weak and insipid.

  • Comment number 79.

    The debate was a useful addition to the political process - however to make it truly democratic the podium space should have been widened much further to include all the parties with significant numbers of the electorate voting for them - the Green Party, Plaid Cymru, SNP, UKIP & BNP. Until this takes place, it isn't a real democratic debate. By doing this however, it would make the UK more a much more democratic nation as a whole. For years the media only give airspace to the 3 main parties and ignore huge swathes of the population that vote for all the lesser parties. The UK establishment should be strong and mature enough to have confidence in the true democratic process and televised debates on this scale would be huge step forward in this process.

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm not sure but did Gordon Brown admit he should not be running?

    "Nobody should be standing for election at this election who is guilty of the offences that we have seen,"

  • Comment number 81.

    Cameron was full of sound bites and lacked substance - great for the swathes of Daily Mail readers but worrying for the rest of us. Brown had most to loose and did OK - trouble is where are the new ideas? Clegg was the clear winner and surely must increase the odds of a hung parliament.

  • Comment number 82.

    After much anticipation, I thought this was a fantastic start to the debating. David Cameron clearly came out on top and appeared most "prime ministerial" in both the quality and structure of his answers, his confidence and body manner. Gordon Brown appeared confused and his answers were poorly structured and slightly off topic. Clegg was way off topic on many of his answers.

    Unlike others here, I'm disappointed that Clegg even gets to take part. He simply isn't up to the calibre of the other two. He may have been more candid, but this is an election he can't win, so he can throw caution to the wind and attack the other two, as the only thing he can gain from this is more exposure for his wishy washy party and policies. His answers were weak, he inspires no confidence that he could run an entire country and it would be a disaster if he won.

    The real choice is between Brown and Cameron. Given the last 4 years of Brown which he won by party concession more than anything else, I think it's time to give a true statesman like Cameron a chance. As a candidate (and as an MP in the house of commons at PMQ), he always comes across as a confident, intelligent, capable candidate who could improve this country for the better.

  • Comment number 83.

    If you strip out all our inbuilt bias I thought there was little between them.

    No real Gaffes, no real great winning line.

    If Clegg performed exactly the same but as a Tory or Labour leader it would be going unremarked.

    Now.

    Has anyone blamed Gordon Brown for the Volcano yet? Surely they must have;

    Cue Susan Croft...

    " I'm only on here to learn from others and I'm certainly NOT a Tory, however, I have seen "reports" from leading vulcanologists (you know scientist types) that say Gordon Brown's lack of Volcano Regulation and the setting up of the VSA led directly to a large bubble forming in Iceland which has now gone boom and bust, so it must be his fault!!"

  • Comment number 84.

    This debate was a bit like reading an old book and a new one, the only thing is it can only be a new book once. \You always delve deeper and are more critical the second time around. It will be interesting to see if Clegg can stand up to the scrutiny. He will also now be fare game, as it felt last night like both the other players were the big boys and could not be seen picking on the small new boy.

    I agree with the call for less regulation however we do not need a free for all with them all talking at once.

  • Comment number 85.

    I think everyone else must have been watching a different debate to me. My view is that there was no clear winner - no one clearly made a case to be apart from the others. Nick Clegg had an opportunity - but after telling us at the start that we needed a different kind of politics he then fluffed it. Quite early on he was asked to respond to a specific point made by one of the others and just blandly trotted out the party line that he had already made a couple of minutes earlier. He's no different to the rest - no intention to give a straight answer!

    The whole atmosphere was completely sterile - an audience in complete silence all the way through.

    My wife (who works in the NHS) thought the answers to the health question were a complete waste of time - no substance from anyone.

    Finally - they all spent 5 minutes at the end falling over themselves to agree with one another that there is a need for a cross party consensus on care for the elderly because "it's an important issue". Everything else they discussed is also important - but no sign of wanting to build consensus on those issues. That would have made an interesting follow up question - except follow up questions weren't allowed!

  • Comment number 86.

    82 support blue

    Rearrange this phrase.

    Reality From Detached.

    It describes your post I'm afraid.

    THe only good thing you can say about Cameron last night was that he won a medal........BRONZE.

  • Comment number 87.

    I'm a floating voter and supposedly have no preconceptions,so what happens in the next 3 weeks will determine who gets my vote! In my opinion Mr Clegg did predictably well and I felt that Mr Brown was quite straight and to the point with his answers. Mr Cameron, however, seemed tense and it became quite frustrating that he preceeded many of his answers with personal stories in an attempt to empathise and connect with the questioner. With so little time, I found it frustrating and just wanted him to get on and answer the question.

    I am also concerned that we don't appear to be hearing from Mr Cameron exactly how and where he intends to save £6bn this year on so called 'waste'. If it is supposed to happen THIS YEAR I hope he is really pushed on this subject over the next few weeks.

    Great day for British politics, long may it continue!

  • Comment number 88.

    Jack Straw says House of Lords reform WILL happen. Then Mandy blocks it apparently. Now Brown promises it again.
    Re-arrange these words:-

    credibility Brown shred does a of possess?

  • Comment number 89.

    Cameron played it too safe. Perhaps you can do this when you have a 20 point lead, but not as things stand. He should have gone for Brown last night. I predicted Clegg would come off best, and so it was. I still feel the "no lose" scenario for him makes these debates infinitely easier - the the other 2 have to tread a fine line. Nonetheless I think Clegg came across very well.

  • Comment number 90.

    I thought that all three had been well trained about how to appear on a stage and TV BUT aren't we meant to vote for our "local MP"?
    It's a shame they had 76 rules to follow and that the invited audience could not question their answers.
    This whole thing is becoming like the USA election where they vote for a "President"!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Nic Clegg comes over as an awfully nice chap. Altruistic. A bit naive on whats achievable. His comment on the salaries of the Military compared to the Police and the Fire Service (two firefghters having been killed last week) was a bit thoughtless considering that wages are national policy for all of the aforementioned. Only chance for the Liberals to be a voice is by coalition or consensus on important isssues - which I think was hinted by him. However the real world is Gordon Browns' and he gave robust reasons for his continuous service as PM. Cameron is forthright but has the shadows of predecessors too close to his fresh appeal. He needs to get rid of the old Thatcherites that pop up, as his supporters.

  • Comment number 92.

    Why did David Cameron declare war on China on national TV??

  • Comment number 93.

    Greetings Earthlings.
    As commander of the Imperial Posleen Battle and Colonization Fleet I believe it is customary on these occasions to ask
    "Take me to your leader"
    The problem is that you do not have a leader and the random selection on offer for your selection process leaves me quite thraddled. The incumbent has the background, the usurper has the gloss but the unseen may have the power.
    To that end I am putting my weapons on powerdown until May 7th. Return to your homes and prepare for enslavement.
    Quilpo'Stenaloor (Admiral)

  • Comment number 94.

    Hi Nick,

    I thought the debate was great for you, the journalists, politicians, and political activist types. Personally, I found the whole thing as dull as dishwater. The answers seemed scripted to me. Not what I regard as a proper debate at all. Will be interested to find out what the viewing figures were.

  • Comment number 95.

    #81 - The charge that David Cameron lacked substance is wrong. He challenged the country to ask itself if it wants to back a government that will introduce the NI tax on jobs and go on wasting money. I can't see how that lacks substance. Its a key decision for the electorate.

    The NI decision by Labour is in the same category as the abolition of the 10% tax rate.'It's wrong, wrong, wrong' to quote a politician who admits to making mistakes (grudgingly.)

  • Comment number 96.

    Yes, Nick, to be fair, it was more of a debate than I thought it would be. Having seen the 76 rules of engagement, I thought we would end up with something totally sterile.

    We still had something a bit sterile, and the lack of audience reaction was a real shame. But not as sterile as I thought it would be, and we had a few moments of genuine debate in their among all the soundbites.

    Although the genuine debate came mostly from Clegg & Cameron. Brown didn't really seem to engage in debate, but rather in repeating what he said the first time irrespective of anything the other 2 had said.

    All in all, I'm glad I watched, and it's nice to see that my original cynicism wasn't entirely justified.

  • Comment number 97.

    Clegg presented his dodgy policies quite well but when voters digest the fact that he is standing on the Michael Foot policy of no nuclear deterrent he will disappear into the abyss along with Mr Foot ! By the way, how do you keep immigrants located in one place strategically located throughout the realm ? Gordon Brown pathetically fawned over his new best mate, Clegg, and his body language scored negative points with his arrogant deceitful grin. Brown has no leadership qualities whatsoever and continues to peddle proven untruths - a sad excuse for a PM. Cameron was solid and assured and held up well under a double vacuous attack. Vote LibDem, keep Brown and go down the Foot Road - there'll definitely be a net exodus from the country then !

  • Comment number 98.

    Clegg won, whether that will make a lot of difference come May we will have to wait and see. The biggest loser was Cameron, he was expected to win and he trailed in third. There was not much between the big two but I was expecting Cameron to do a lot better.

    Surely if the Lib Dems don't do any better after this it makes the whole debate thing seem worthless. I personally feel that after a few elections using these debates the two party system could turn into three.

  • Comment number 99.

    All three leaders only said one thing - Brown: Trust us; Cameron: Don't trust them and Clegg: We need a change from a two-party system.

    Disappointing.

  • Comment number 100.

    Calm, measured, no rhetoric, no personality-bashing - I think all three candidates behaved appropriately and showed themselves to be effective, intelligent leaders. The debate centred on the policy "selected" by the questioner, which was important. Nick Clegg was able to adhere most closely to the questions and responded directly to the questioner. David Cameron used too many anecdotes as his evidence, rather than facts and figures, which was interesting but not professional. Gordon Brown, although the leader most commonly criticised for his lack of "personality", whatever that means, was able to come across, as solid, dependable and sincere. His answers were not direct responses to the questioner, but they were evidence-based and so credible.
    Good debate. I look forward to the next one.

 

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