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Debate LIVE: Who won?

It lasted for 90 minutes. It should have probably stopped after about 70. 

In the spin room, as the credits rolled, Cabinet Ministers and the ones who want to take over their jobs crowded in front of the cameras to say their man won.

David Cameron's team felt they had got across all their major policy points.

But both Tories and Labour were falling over themselves to claim the real winner was Nick Clegg.

The immediate ITV ComRes poll seemed to confirm that, with David Cameron second and Gordon Brown a close third.

Meanwhile, Sky News' poll put Cameron on 53%, Clegg on 28% and Brown on 19%.

In truth, we won't know until May 6. There are 2 more of these debates and they will give the teams a chance to hone their messages, polish their speeches and calm their bosses down from the adrenaline that was seeping through every pore at times.

However, it is the Labour Party team who have the most work to do. Gordon Brown looked earnest. For the first time his answers were concise.

But he tried too hard to be liked by Nick Clegg. Reaching out the hand of consensus to the Lib Dems is all very well after the polls close and you're trying to form a government.

But when that hand of friendship gets slapped away, it looks like a weakness.

And the part Labour need to work hardest on is the most important part: "Why should you vote for Gordon Brown?"

Home Secretary Alan Johnson told me that Gordon Brown doesn't need to worry about the popularity stakes. Oh yes he does 

David Cameron's point - that this is an election all about hope for the future, not fear of what might happen, was the most successful pitch for a vote tonight.

Alastair Campbell, Lord Mandelson and the rest have got another week to dream up something better.

It was a fantastic moment - pure TV gold. And the creation of the post match spin room really made things feel as though the election campaign has finally got under way.

But will the voters feel the same?



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