Ms Sturgeon was one of the biggest winners. She made her points clearly and effectively, drawing a contrast between the SNP’s vision and those of the Conservatives and Labour. Voters encountering her for the first time were, I suspect, impressed.
Where David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Mr Clegg were forced to acknowledge fiscal reality, Ms Sturgeon backed “modest spending increases” while claiming that the SNP’s approach would reduce the national debt as a share of GDP. But as she will not be tasked with making these numbers add up, this wishful thinking mattered little by the end of an evening in which she had achieved all she wanted.Magnus Linklater:
Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, was relishing the opportunity to take on the big players. She has developed a way of suggesting, with a little smile and a shake of the head, that “boys will be boys”, but she herself knew better. She actually used the phrase “old boys’ network” to imply that this was a Westminster carve-up and only the leavening of an SNP presence would keep them in order. “Labour and the Tories are hand in glove in imposing austerity,” she pronounced.
Amazingly, towards the end, she seemed to be holding the ring between prime minister and leader of the opposition. Here was the SNP as the voice of moderation — moderate on immigration, Europe, the economy. She ticked off Nigel Farage like a hospital matron who has found something nasty in the ward, and threw a grin of disbelief which the cameras caught perfectly when he talked of scrapping the Barnett formula. Whether it meant “No, actually, that’s our job” was not clear, she just wanted him to know she had got his number.
This was not the demeanour of a woman representing a minority party.