'Absolutely agree with you'. The words most uttered in the third debate as the leaders tried to out-do each other in schmoozing the questioners.
I dunno who won that round, but these are my thoughts:
a lot tetchier than the first one, unsurprisingly, given the stakes. It had the feeling of Prime Minister's Questions at times. In particular, Gordon Brown got that defensive grumpy tone with lots of his answers. Only problem was - sometimes he wasn't getting pissed off responding to jibes from Cameron or Clegg, it was while answering the questions from viewers. Will anyone pick up on that? Dunno.
Gordon Brown's smile at the end of his ending-up summary will haunt my dreams for the rest of my days.
bankers' bonuses. Yadda yadda, all 3 parties are happy to bash banks but ironically, only Brown had the courage to say that they don't want to chase financial institutions away and in many ways Labour seems to be most City-friendly. Everybody thinks Glass Steagall is a good idea, yet a counterargument is that splitting casinos and retail banks could be more dangerous, because the retail banks were dishing out dodgy mortgages, and the casino parts of existing banks often kept the retail side afloat.
on the economy, it was same-old same-old. Brown trying hard to paint tax cuts as 'old Tory' and 'ideological'. I wonder what's not ideological about the Labour stance that the government has to control and regulate and meddle with everything that happens in the country.
Full marks to Cameron for making the point, more than once, that Gordon Brown keeps confusing 'the government' with 'the economy'. He should have elaborated more on that, voters aren't too thick to understand it. He also scored a few hits with '13 years' which in Camp Tory was right up there with 'absolutely agree'.
Gordon Brown's 'I saved the economy, don't jeopardise the recovery' is a bit premature, given the sovereign debt crisis now facing the planet. In 6 months time there's a real chance that people will be looking back and saying 'governments going bankrupt because they threw money at banks instead of letting a few of them fail was a pretty stupid thing to do'.
immigration. Don't agree with Tories, think the Lib Dems have some good ideas, not sure if I have an opinion on an amnesty. Only Clegg (I think) alluded to the fact that immigration is an issue only because of its impact on 'services' - ie. the welfare state. The problem isn't immigration (and on what moral basis does any party which cares about 'fairness' justify discriminating against people in need based on where they were born?), it's about the sustainability of the welfare state. It's about the Haves not being happy because Have Nots cross a line on a map and ask for a share of the pie.
business and manufacturing. Low taxes, low regulation, let people get on with it. It's not rocket science, Cameron's views came closest to that. Nobody asked Clegg what the Lib Dem increase in capital gains tax will do for business, nor what the the mansion tax says to people who want to open businesses (factories or otherwise) and succeed in life.
home ownership. Nobody had the stones to point out that a major reason for the financial crisis was a national obsession with home ownership, spurred on by government winks and nudges as they encouraged and exhorted banks to keep dishing out money to people who couldn't afford the homes they were buying. Why? Boom time meant everything was groovy and Labour kept getting re-elected.
Ditto with Brown's comment about how wonderful low interest rates had been for home ownership - would we have had the financial crisis if interest rates hadn't been kept so artificially low for so many years? Go ask countries who had higher interest rates and didn't have housing price bubbles.
benefits. Labour can sound as tough as they like, they've had 13 years and done bugger-all, and large parts of their base are benefits-dependent. I agree with the Lib Dem policy of cutting low-end taxes (which is one part of dealing with the issue), I also agree with the hard-arsed Tory approach.
education. Tory and Lib Dems both appeal to me. Again, Labour bear responsibility for the current state of schooling, over-regulated, anti-achievement, lousy.
And that's that. Would be surprised if anything tonight caused the polls to shift drastically, so next Thursday, judgement day.