To begin with, we learned that a debate is sometimes not a debate. Perhaps political leaders these days have to be isolated from each other in case they catch something. Both faced a grilling from an increasingly world-weary Jeremy Paxman, along with a series of not-too-difficult questions from an audience jollied along by Kay Burley. It was a strange compromise, generating very little in the way of passion or controversy.
Both leaders had obviously been heavily coached before the event, and you could see them almost bursting to get to their prepared sound bytes via a question vaguely related, or sometimes not related at all, to the point they'd rehearsed. They faced Jeremy Paxman across a weird object that may have been a bar table left over from Star Wars, or a fishtank that had fallen over. It may have been designed to keep them from doing a Clarkson on Paxman, but it led to them shouting answers at a bloke several yards away.
The expected line of questioning emerged; "So, Mr Cameron, you're a posh bloke with posh friends who are a bit dodgy aren't you" and "So Mr Miliband, you're a bit weird with a smarter brother, eh?" Both Ed and David handled things pretty well, with Ed clearly having been given a note that said "Show a bit of passion" and David having been advised to lean back and say "Let me explain..." as if someone was trying to stop him.
But what did we learn about the bid for number ten? Er..not much. Expectations were fairly low, and they weren't exceeded by much. In my assesment, Ed Miliband performed slightly better, and seemed to wrong-foot Paxman when he simply admitted that Labour had made mistakes. Cameron wasn't as strong as he might have been on the economy, but didn't do himself any real harm.
Overall, will it influence the result of the General Election? No.
Picture Credit: Creative Commons License