So, the big debate is over, and the dust has settled. Time to mark the contenders, I think, and, in a nod towards modern culture, the marks are inspired by 'Dancing on Ice'...
artistic impression - 4.2
technical merit - 4.8
He clearly doesn't rate George Osborne, and was only too keen to attack his proposals on National Insurance Contributions. Indeed, his attacks displayed a sense of passion that has seldom surfaced in the recent past. He does give the impression that he is grimly determined to fix the economy, and one sensed that, if it were down to him, and an election wasn't pending, there would be far more detail on proposed cuts.
artistic impression - 5.2
technical merit - 3.7
As I noted this morning, George used his prepared soundbites well, and said the right things in terms of what needs to be done - deficit reduction, supporting enterprise, rewarding work - without ever convincing that he could demonstrate how it would be achieved. The problem is, what he says is so obviously correct that you want to move straight on to the detail. As was pointed out, you can't ridicule Labour plans for efficiency savings and then use them to justify tax cuts, and you can't say that reducing the deficit is the key priority and then dedicate a large chunk of savings identified to tax cuts. You certainly can't claim to be protecting the NHS, defence and overseas development unless you can say how this will impact on other spending areas.
artistic impression - 5.5
technical merit - 5.7
Vince went in with a Channel 4 poll showing that, of the three, he was the preferred choice as Chancellor. He kept it steady, playing a straight bat, not attempting to pin zingers on his opponents, but attracting virtually all of the applause. He attacked Alistair for failing to provide sufficient detail on proposed efficiency savings, whilst making George look like the history graduate and spin merchant that he actually is. Virtually all the specifics came from Vince and, let's face it, the audience response spoke volumes.
In summary, 'Good Time George' demonstrated that, whilst he would be passable in a strong economy, you wouldn't want to depend on him. Alistair, the county town solicitor, appears trustworthy if uninspired. But Vince, now there's a man who you'd entrust your savings to.