I watched the debate last night with a group of people invited to a bar in central London by a PR company. I have five reflections.
1. Clegg won, therefore Cameron “won.” The conventional wisdom before the event was that Clegg was the likely winner, simply by having a third of airtime. That he then proceeded to exceed that expectation was impressive. He had just the right mix of stories, good examples and calculated outrage. But because he won, Cameron also won too—that Clegg is the winner has little electoral significance, and nothing fundamental changed last night in the frame for the election as a whole.
2. Brown did better than expected, but still came in third. In one sense Gordon Brown could have been said to have “needed” something to change in the debate. It is, after all, one of his few opportunities to shift the