The Sketch: The biggest laugh? Well it's the way Gordon tells them

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The Independent Online

But first the hair. Nick's was the youngest, tousled as from afternoon sex. Young people will like that, and it helps project his policy on Europe. Cameron's hair hadn't set properly, there was a bold sweep at the front but then it went flat the further into it you went. I wonder if that means anything. And Gordon's! The poor fellow, his hair is only going in one direction. Soon he'll have fulfilled Blair's promise of being "whiter than white". He should prepare for the next debate with 36 holes in the Bahamas. That advice is so good I may send him a bill (he'll have a spare £100m for emergencies if I know him).

What was best? The crafted lines. The hand-tooled debating points. Gordon smiled his smile as he said, "The more I hear them, the more they sound like my two sons squabbling in the bath." That got the biggest laugh in the media room. It really is the way he tells them.

Cameron's big line was, "You should be ashamed". That'll carry forward into the weekend news. It relates to leaflet containing "lies" about something. Free bus passes, possibly. Or extra winter fuel allowances for Afghan heroes, or television licences for people with terminal illnesses. The PM (who'd just said how important taking responsibility was) said: "I didn't authorise them."

Nick's frequently repeated, "The two old parties, the two sad old, tired old, wrecked old, boring old toss pots can't deliver CHANGE, wonderful change!"

Gordon probably won on entertainment value. To a pensioner asking whether £59 a week was adequate he said: "Women, of which you are one."

The spinners, spinsters and spunsters (the past tense represented by Campbell and Whelan) were in well before the debate ended generating a bubbling hubbub of a media marketplace.

As packs formed and rolled into mauls you could be surrounded by lights, cameras, action and feel you were part of something wonderfully meaningless. "No, no, no, no," I heard David Miliband over riding Liam Fox, "he refused to guarantee free eye tests." We must be very over-excited.

Michael Gove got picked on by Chris Huhne: "Why are you looking so unhappy?" And then by Charlie Whelan, "That's not spinning. That's pathetic." So then I thought I'd have a go: "How many estates are covered by the inheritance tax proposals?" You can see how I work to elevate the tone of these things. It's been annoying me for years that Cameron just walks away from the argument. Is the number higher than the 3,000 estates Gordon claims? How many, then? "I've no idea!" Gove said, quite pleased with his answer. "But it doesn't matter because nobody believes what the PM says any more."

It didn't seem a complete answer; I felt underspun, frankly, but it was better than nothing. He elaborated. "Everyone knows we've won the argument!"

I wonder if that's right. Last time, the polls took everyone in the media room by surprise. None of us knew what we'd seen, and the spinners who were supposed to be telling us didn't know either.

Clegg behaved with youthful certainty. It's not a reason to dislike him. He sustained his pitch. He did what he did last time and did the most pointing, interrupting, and talking-over. That's got a big constituency. If you wanted to believe in him you'd have been nodding along. And when he said things like, "Can I just say before this collapses into a game of political ping-pong" there would have been a statistically significant number of voters under 35 not throwing their remotes at the screen.

So will his polling hold up? Don't ask me, what did you think?