How valuable was the TV debate to the Lib Dems? Well, we've seen the poll numbers, of course. But the Electoral Commission has just released some figures which shine a different light on proceedings. They show that the Tories received party donations totalling £1.46m in the first week of the campaign. Labour, nearly £800k. And the Lib Dems were way, way behind on £20,000. So, Clegg & Co. are heavily outgunned financially - but they've still had the biggest upsurge in publicity and popularity.
True, donations to the Lib Dems have risen dramatically since the TV debate - but it's still unlikely that they'll reach Tory, or even Labour, levels of income. In which case, the TV debates will continue to be the best publicity that money doesn't have to buy.