Who won the first Scottish leaders' debate?

This was a good night for Annabel Goldie and Alex Salmond.

Iain Gray performed poorly with Tavish Scott somewhat anonymous.

That's not just my view but that of many of the audience members I spoke to.

Ms Goldie started well - clearly communicating what she regards as the Scottish Tories achievements in opposition.

She was forced onto the defensive on her party's support for a graduate contribution and seemed somewhat non-committal on figures.

But overall Ms Goldie held her line well while criticising the other parties' "deception".

A series of undecided voters in the audience told me afterwards their 'head had been turned' by her straight-talking performance.

Alex Salmond also faced a tough time on student funding amid criticism of his party's failure to "dump the debt" - but he recovered well.

The First Minister also successfully down-played his propensity to appear somewhat dismissive or arrogant and escaped largely unscathed over the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Tavish Scott's performance was largely forgettable - and given his party's dismal poll ratings that's simply not enough.

He countered criticism of the UK party's u-turn on tuition fees with effective reference to his own daughter's experience.

But he may want to forget the line "if this a personality contest count me out". That's perhaps not the best approach in a contest fast becoming presidential in style.

But this was a particularly poor night for Mr Gray who repeatedly appeared to evade questions - particularly on his personal popularity and on possible coalitions.

On council tax he was forced to admit it may have been higher under a Labour government.

Mr Gray improved when it came to apprenticeships but stood accused of voting against measures to boost their numbers.

And throughout he adopted an aggressive tone - one perhaps designed to provoke Mr Salmond. That approach backfired.

This is just the first TV debate of the campaign - momentum can change.

But first impressions can be lasting.



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