I watched the big debate on Channel 4 tonight. Turned out much as I would have expected. Don't think it will have greatly influenced things, except to the extent that some had too low an expectation of George Osborne beforehand, and others far too high an opinion of Vince Cable.
Alistair Darling, who now seems to be genuinely enjoying his job as Chancellor, was exactly what we know him to be, cool, unflappable and uninspiring - all qualities well suited to the keeper of the nation's purse. Don't know if Gordon Brown was watching. If he was, a mobile phone or two might have been smashed when Mr Darling kept reminding us that there was not a penny left in the Government's coffers. Perhaps its winding up the Prime Minister that brings pleasure to Mr Darling.
Vince Cable treated the whole thing like a Question Time appearance, milking the audience for cheap applause (successfully). Some people are impressed by this. He's never recovered from that joke he made about Gordon Brown morphing from Stalin into Mr Bean. He thinks he's an entertainer. I find it increasingly difficult to take him seriously as a politician. And he's just so hideously boastful. You would think he'd have been a bit chastened after his humiliation today, when he had to apologise to the Perm. Sec. at the Treasury for misleading the public with his fantasies of self-importance. I suppose people who don't have any real power do tend to do this sort of thing. His snide crack about "pin striped Scargills" (perhaps he meant the financial crook, Michael Brown - biggest donor ever to the Lib Dems) and puerile attacks on his opponents late on were typical. No more than an OK performance, which is all I'd expected.
And so to our man - George Osborne. A good sound performance - cool under pressure from the Darling/Cable combo working in harness, and totally confident in his ability. He would have wanted to look like a potential Chancellor, which I thought he succeeded. Overall, I thought tonight's debate will have most pleased the Conservative watchers, who have read so much bilge in the media about George's supposed weaknesses. He proved that he's no weak link - quite the opposite. Biggest loser was Vince Cable, mainly because of the unjustified reputation he has somehow managed to acquire.