I've just been watching the Lib Dem Leadership debate and felt that Chris Huhne just about edged it over the length of the whole programme.
To start with Chris exuded more confidence, spoke in a more measured and controlled way thatn Nick, his fluency was clear in the way he got his message across and by contrast nick seemed flustered and a little edgy.
The first questions were, I felt, a poor way to start the debate and concentrated on negative comments made. Chris did well and sounded more controlled when asked about his comments likening Nick to Cameron whilst I felt Nick let his anger show when asked about comments that he made about Chris last year. I could completely understand why Nick was angry, but he needs to show more control. Chris did this better.
I think that Chris did particularly well on the issue of "Who would we work with in a coalition". I love the way he attacked the dreadful David Dimblebore over why he never asked the Tories or Labour who they would work with, and he made Dimblebore look an arse when Dimblebore suggested that the Tories and Labour might night be able to form a majority together. Likewise, his statistics and evidence of the Tories working with Labour was excellent.
Nick too answered well on this subject, highlighting the hypothetical nature of the question and sought to make clear the fact that he was a Lib Dem and was not interested in endorsing other political parties. I still felt though that Chris had the edge.
On Trident, Chris won me over, with a clear and concise explanation of his view that we do need a deterrent. I didn't like the fact that Nick tried to explain Chris' policy before he had a chance to explain it himself. I felt it was a little bit negative, but actually I think this worked out better for Chris in the end.
Suddenly though, in the second half, I felt Nick was fighting back. When asked what made them different from each other, Nick suddenly showed the charisma and charm for which he is noted. He spoke with anger and passion about the closing of hospitals, the life expectancy of people in poor areas, the war in Iraq, indeed, I felt that had Dimblebore not interrupted him (and well done Nick for insisting that he finish), he could have spoken on this topic for hours without any problem. Chris outlined his experience and made a good account of himself, but Nick had the edge here.
And from that point, I actually felt Nick grew in confidence. I loved it when the both completely agreed with each other on the economy. The rather incredulous put down from Chris towards Dimblebore "We do actually want to lead the same party" bought a smile to the audience as well as me at home.
If Nick had started as he finished, he might have won the debate. For the whole second half of the debate I felt Nick was getting more applause, more nods and looked far happier himself. In many ways it was as Chris had peaked to early. However, due to Chris' excellent start to the debate, the way he handled himself under fire and his better put downs of Dimblebore, I felt he edged it (just).
Well done though to both of them. both a credit to the party. I hope that both camps will now go and spread the positive message about their candidates and not go around bad mouthing each other.
As Nick said towards the end "Sometimes similarity is a good thing." In this case, I agree. Either of them would make a great leader.