Newsnight’s format for the debate wasn’t great, there was an awful lot of people talking over one another and Paxman is too much of a performer to be an effective chair. But there were a few noteworthy moments. First of all, David Laws seemed to rather rewrite Lib Dem spending policy. Nick Clegg told Fraser and I when we interviewed him that the Tory policy to ringfence NHS spending was “totally implausible” because it would make the cuts required to other public services so much larger but David Laws signed up to ringfencing NHS spending tonight under pressure from Michael Gove.
Gove versus Balls was, predictably, the main clash with Balls sticking doggedly to his investment versus cuts dividing line. Gove, though, did well to point out that only half of the DCSF budget is actually spent on schools and that Balls himself is planning cuts to part of his budget. I also thought Balls made a mistake at the beginning of the debate by refusing to apologise to Michael Gove for having accused him in the Commons of using a misleading and incorrect statistic when Gove was actually right. Amongst the politicians, I'd score tonight as a points victory for Gove.