I am sure I am the last person in the world to reflect on last night but I thought I would have my two pennies worth.
Firstly some randon thoughts in no particular order - well done to ITV - and indeed all the broadcasters and parties for making it happen. I never thought it would. The rules didn't seem to inhibit proper debate, although I felt the moderator stepped in at some of the best moment. The set was awful. It was good to see the programme without commercial breaks. And I thought it was a little bit strange to see the party leaders - whom we usually only see interact in the House of Commons - caling each other Nick, David & Gordon.
Were there any killer blows - no. Knock out punches? No. Great one-liners? Zilch.
In fact, despite the better format I am not sure that anybody really learnt anything about politics. The left (and I mean, the combined left - LibDems, Labour & Greens) united to pour bile on Cameron, the Conservatives thought he did well. 80% of people thought the Prime Minister did badly. So, basically - your man won (whoever your man is). But - I would like next time for the debate to be slower and more thoughtful. I felt the speed of responses was fast and the pace of the debate was frenetic.
And finally a word about each of them. Clegg was thought to be the winner on the night,no doubt aided by being "introduced" to people and distancing himself from the other two parties. I thought presentationally he did well butwas weaker when challenged on his own policies. He tried to referee stance (used well by Vince Cable) but it didn't work because Cameron challenged him 4 times over Libdem policies. This was much more the media star we were promised when he became leader. He was clearly very well briefed. However - my big criticism would be that he was unable to adapt. For example, when Cameron used the stat about 4,000 educational diktats per year, Clegg still "revealed" the same stat in his answer. He should have acknowledged it from Cameron.
Brown looked the odd one out and sounded the most robotic. Some people said they saw the real Gordon and passion in him; I must have missed it. My view is that his answers were still too formula driven and laden with stats. His insistance that things were not as the general public saw them (defence, crime, immigration) did not go down well and he ought to be have addressed Cameron's repeated point of being in government for 13 years. As one LibDem said, he had low expectations and failed to meet them - I think this is a little harsh but clearly this format is not good for the PM, but he may yet learn. In addition he came armed with a lot of little "one liners" but Labour know you can only use them once!
True Cameron was by far the most polished - I think his experiences at umpteen Cameron Direct town hall meetings will have helped - and some people believe this was his biggest fault. I felt Cameron had the strongest begining (going on expenses straight way was the right thing to do) and ending (positive, up beat). But he did confound my expecations - very few jokes, no yah-boo stuff and little rising to the jibes of the others. He had the most policy to lay out but in that he attracted most criticism and at times became a little bogged down. However, as I said, I felt he did the best (as expected!)
So we now look forward to the second debate with great interest - my rolling scores are Cameron 8, Clegg 7, Brown 4