SO who won the great TV debate on Tuesday night? It was watched by five million people, and every one of them will have had an opinion, even if the initial poll, which put Rishi Sunak as the 51/49 winner has been supplanted by two other polls giving Sir Keir Starmer a bigger lead.

For our money, Mr Sunak was the better performer. Trailing 20 points in the polls and facing wipe-out, he had nothing to lose. He came out fighting. He looked confident, perhaps over-confident, and had learned his lines well, delivering the night’s two best put-downs – “if you think Labour is going to win, start saving” and “in uncertain times, we simply can’t afford an uncertain prime minister”.

And he banged on about Labour’s alleged £2,000 tax grab so often that it will be the takeaway for any casual observer – even if it isn’t really true.

Sir Keir looked diffident and defensive, perhaps knowing he had everything to lose. He is a more deliberative individual, but even so, it is strange that it took him half-an-hour to dismiss the £2,000 claim and he didn’t even mention the Treasury letter that we now know exists refuting this analysis, and he didn’t pin on Mr Sunak the fact that, on his watch, taxation levels in this country continue to rise to record levels.

Neither man was properly able to address the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ claim that there is a “conspiracy of silence” in the election with all government departments, except health, education and defence, facing immediate deep cuts, and neither man provided a vision of what he wanted to do with this great country of ours should he win the keys to Downing Street – he just thought he could manage it a bit better than the other bloke.

Mr Sunak did well enough to reassure his worried party that he is serious about the election, and Sir Keir did not do badly enough to jeopardise Labour’s poll lead.