Dave Cameron emerged as the winner from last night's television debate with an articilate, polished and positive performance. But does he have enough momentum to secure an overall majority or at least to be so far ahead of the Labour Party that he can govern effectively on his own given the fragmented nature of the opposition? For all Dave's relative success, it remains a three-way race, albeit with the Conservtaives in pole position. No one landed a killer blow.
Gordon Brown seemed nervous to begin with. He tried to defuse the issue of the gaffe, but responses from the 'worm' showed that this did not go down too well with viewers. He got better as he went on, but he often looked brooding and aggrieved. He floundered on defending his record. He kept returning to the issue of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems removing child tax credits for prosperous families, but if steps like this are not taken how is the deficit ever going to be reduced?
He managed to get his soundbites in on 'the same old Conservative party', which probably only plays with core Labour voters (although possibly that vote needs shoring up) and Dave Cameron and Nick Clegg both being 'a risk to the economy'. Although Dave Cameron over egged it when he talked of 'desperate stuff from a man in a desperate state', and there is evidence that voters don't like this kind of point scoring, I thought that it was an unimpressive performance by Brown.
Nick Clegg was once again personable and he held his own, although he came under some pressure on policy issues. The 'here they go again' comment addressed to his rivals didn't really work. I thought that he was right to emphasise the fairness theme as he has a real chance of picking up disillusioned Labour voters as their campaign risks imploding. Some Labour voters think that he is articulating the values that their party should be advancing.
The issue of immigration was discussed. Dave Cameron was able to convey the message that the Conservatives would be tougher on immigration, but he was still unable to specify the size of the proposed cap when pressed by Nick Clegg. As came out, 80 per cent of immigration is from the EU which created an opening for Nigel Farrage of UKIP in his post-debate comments.
I didn't really learn anything new from the debate and I certainly got no clear idea of how the deficit is going to be tackled, but then I didn't expect that. The debates have enhanced the campaign and aroused interest in the election, even if they tend to emphasise personality rather than policy. It looks as if Dave Cameron will be the next prime minister.