Having trawled round a few websites and read the newspapers, it seems that most people thought Vince Cable "won" by a short head. He won the audience by using his usual brand of populism. Incredibly, it seems his own policies didn't come under scrutiny at all. Very few people seem to have thought Alistair Darling did particularly well, which I think was a bit of a surprise.
Michael Crick and talkSport's Sean Dilley both thought George Osborne shaded it, partly because of the gaffe he drew Alistair Darling into making on the so-called Death Tax and partly because he vastly exceeded the Commentariat's low expectations - something even his enemies have grudgingly admitted. Here's the exchange on the Death Tax...
George Osborne: You can just answer a very simple question on the death tax. That’s what we were discussing…is that an option that a Labour Governmentt if elected in 4 or 5 weeks’ time will keep on the table?
Alistair Darling: No it’s not….no…for the next Parliament….(speaking over each other)
GO:.Oh..so it’s now…I have been accused of not agreeing with him and it’s an option he’s now just ruled out….(laughter)
AD: I said ..one of the options being looked at…er.. the er..as it so happens I think there will be an announcement about, about long term care.. what we propose about long term care for the elderly pretty shortly……..(more noise over) (Ask the Chancellors, Channel 4, 29 March 2010)
This comes after months of suggesting it was their preferred option. In addition, Osborne picked Darling up on his misrepresentation of the Tory policy on taking child tax credits away from people earning more than £50k.
Alistair Darling: “George you are proposing taxing tax credits away from people are earning just over £30,000 a year.”
George Osborne: “It’s very important that I correct what Alistair said because it is not a proper representation of Conservative policy. We believe very much in the tax credit system, we will keep the tax credit system but we don’t believe you should pay tax credits to people earning over fifty thousand pounds and we would taper them away from people on forty thousand not thirty like he says. And to claim that somehow taking tax credits, means tested credits, which everyone is paying for, away from people earning over fifty thousand pounds is going to somehow damage the fight against child poverty is simply wrong.”
The Tory post match spin maintainted that Darling looked evasive, Vince played to the gallery and George spoke to people at home.
I can't remember where I saw it, but one site had a post match poll which came out 36-32-32 in favour of Cable. From the clips I have seen and the writeups I have read, it was a no score draw. Very little light was shed on anything and I doubt very much whether it changed many votes among the 1.8 million TV audience.