Labour View: Blair would have walked this

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Indy Politics

This was the night when Nick Clegg lost his USP. No longer floating effortlessly above the fray he was mixing it with the best of them. Standing at the centre podium he lost the advantage of being the outsider looking in.

David Cameron showed that he had learned most from the first debate. He raised his game and shamelessly tried to out-Clegg Clegg. He looked for his opportunity to let the other two get into a scrap – over immigration – and when it came tried to claim he represented change to a better kind of politics.

Gordon Brown seemed to have recovered some of the self-confidence that was knocked out of him a week ago. He ignored the question when he chose to in order to get the debate on to his chosen territory, the economy. His performance showed he is not ready, after all, to throw in the towel. "Get real" was an effective putdown to Clegg.

There was less first-name chuminess. All three talked too fast and none was willing to resist the urge to come back one more time. As a result the whole debate was more scrappy and less refreshing than the first.

If politics returned some way to normal last night then Nick Clegg suffered most. Clegg-mania will not disappear but it will probably subside a little.

The most memorable area of cross-party agreement was in answer to a question on the failings and at times harmful stance of the Roman Catholic church.

Tony Blair could have wiped the floor with all the three leaders on stage last night, but it would have been interesting to hear him try to answer that one.

Lance Price is a former media adviser at No 10 for Labour