Sarah Teather was batting for the Lib Dems and the mellifluously toned Emily Thornberry was doing likewise for Labour.
During the course of the programme, Thornberry repeatedly tried to turn every question into one about the "harsh cuts" being imposed by the government. At no point of course did she make any attempt to highlight what she and Labour would have cut instead as indeed they would have had to have done.
In the end Teather called her on this pointing out that Labour continually attack every single cut without having a credible alternative plan for what they would have done instead (see Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer today for more on this theme). It is opportunism of the highest order.
But how strange that we find ourselves at the start of 2011 in a political world where a Lib Dem MP (and government minister to boot) is lecturing one of Labour's rising stars who only just missed election to the shadow cabinet by one vote on realistic politics and government! For decades we have heard Labour (and Tory) ministers claim high-handedly that a vote for the Lib Dems is a waste of time because they are not a realistic party of government and will never be in a position of power. They cannot credibly make this claim in the future.
As an aside, I also just wanted to draw attention to something else Thornberry said during the programme. At one point she claimed: "Being in coalition is not an excuse to break your promises". This garnered a fair bit of applause from the audience. However it is an easy line that like her claims about the economy does not stand up to scrutiny. As I have said time and again, coalition is about compromise and by definition it is impossible for two parties to come together and for both of their programmes/manifestos to be implemented in full. Some policies and ideas from both parties will have to be modified or dropped for it to work at all. So it is another example of Labour being totally unrealistic about the realities of coalition governing.
Emily Thornberry gets added to the ever growing list of Labour spokespeople and activists who by their words are effectively ruling out their own party from ever governing in a coalition at Westminster.