Strangely enough, on the night they were more or less as they are. There were no knock-out blows and no dreadful slip-ups.
Gordon Brown looked remarkably like, well, Gordon Brown – a bruising juggernaut of a politician who attracts respect and loathing according to taste. David Cameron displayed the fluency and charm that comes easily to Tory toffs. Nick Clegg stuck to the practised, occasionally sanctimonious script that the two big parties have had their chance. Read more
First thoughts on the debate which was much more lively than many expected:
1) Nick Clegg dominated proceedings and must be held to have been the clear winner in the actual contest. He always had the easiest task and it is no surprise he came out well but I never expected him to be quite such a commanding figure. He was clear, articulate, forceful without being overly aggressive. He seemed relaxed (possibly too much so – I wondered about the hands in the pocket stance) and always spoke directly to the camera. Read more
JP 11.27pm Time for my last attempt at sober analysis of the debate and the aftermath.
What matters ultimately is who came out on top between Cameron and Brown. After all, the Lib Dems have no chance in the majority of seats in the general election. They may still be glad to increase their number of seats from the current 63. Those are the basic facts.
If the preliminary reports are correct – that Cameron was significantly ahead of Brown – that may, ultimately, turn out to be crucial.
Regardless of Clegg’s moment in the sun (“Clegg the outsider seizes his moment in the TV spotlight” is the Guardian front page tomorrow. And “shock victory for Clegg” is the Daily Mail.) It’s still about blues versus reds. Read more
Join Alex and Jim tonight from 7pm BST for witty political banter, instant commentary and analysis and more as the three party leaders go head-to-head-to-head in the most exciting televised political debate to hit British airwaves. Read more
On the leaders’ debate:
Cameron warns of “sluggish” debate – The FT
Big match build-up – Adam Boulton on Sky
Feeling queasy – Nick Robinson’s newslog
What if it’s too boring for words – Benedict Brogan in The Telegraph
On the election:
Eddie Izzard’s PPB is awfully good – Toby Young in The Telegraph
Zac Goldsmith threatens to resign – Paul Waugh in The Evening Standard
The Green party manifeso for a low-key life – Michael White in The Guardian
The Dark Lord takes to the dancefloor – Iain Martin in the Wall St Journal Read more
A cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland is closing Britain’ airports and hogging the news bulletins. It has everything the election lacks – great pictures, a direct and tangible impact on real people, a touch of science and wonderment too it. Small wonder the news organisations are diverted from a campaign which is clearly failing to ignite public interest despite an unclear outcome.
Similar quantities of hot air have been spewed out in advance of tonight’s TV debate. Endless clips of Nixon and Kennedy – have littered our screens (and even some front pages). After months of bigging it up, broadcasters have joined the expectation management game, worrying that perhaps it will be too boring (subtext: we want more fireworks next time – perhaps a panel led by Simon Cowell and a buzzer to shut up the candidates). Read more
Party leaders set to campaign in north-west ahead of tonight’s first televised leaders’ election debate in Manchester. The 90-minute programme starts at 8pm on ITV.
Elsewhere George Osborne visits an Airbus factory in Flintshire, Lord Adonis visits the international rail terminal in Kent and the Greens launch their manifesto in Brighton. Read more