Last big TV gig for Corbyn and May

Considering the backdrop of Labour momentum heading into last night's big final Question Time showdown (yes I know it was not a showdown but the closest thing we are going to get), I suspect the Conservatives will have taken greater encouragement from the performances than Labour.

Theresa May bossed the Brexit questions which took up the first 10 minutes. She clearly considers this fortress territory and the 'carrying out the wishes of the British public' are the castle walls.

Then came the tricky period, particularly when a nurse outlined how the public sector pay cap has meant her wages had failed to keep pace with inflation in recent years.

Mrs May responded by reaching out for the safety blanket of the well-rehearsed 'no magic money tree' response.

As answers go, it was pretty unforgiving. A more versatile performer would have probably talked about how tax revenues from a strong economy are the best way to support public services, but sugar-coated responses do not roll off the tongue from this Prime Minister.

Achilles heel

Social care, surely the achilles heel of the Tory campaign, was predictably awkward. Mrs May ploughed her way through the questions - the standout being if they can specify a floor why can't they specify a cap? - in the same way she has done throughout the campaign by revealing that this is nothing other than difficult territory.

Jeremy Corbyn also started off strongly with his familiar calls to rebalance the economy and invest in public services and housing.

He looked comfortable dealing with concerns about his party's proposed tax rises for the well-off by linking them with investment which in turn would lead to growth in the economy.

And then along came Trident and the IRA: the issues that refuse to go away. Mr Corbyn talked about a no first-strike policy but his refusal to answer the question on whether he would ever press the button meant some members of the audience refused to let it go either.

Eventually, a bemused questioner asked why they were spending so much time talking about killing millions of people, and possibly the planet - a fair point - but whatever the rights or wrongs of it, Jeremy Corbyn's long-held abhorrence of nuclear weapons has lingered throughout the campaign.

Cut to the chase

At times, and in very different ways, both performed strongly in the face of plenty of excellent questions that cut to the chase.

And that is the particular strength of this format, there are lots of questions squeezed in, and we know there is nowhere to hide.

Those on the right and the left will have had their views reinforced, what we do not know is the impact on the swing voters who will decide the fate of both of them in a few days.

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