I’ve never been to a leaders’ debate before and signed up through intrigue as much as genuine interest.

How authentic was the debate, I’d wondered? Were we the audience to be told what to say?

I was presently surprised at how jovial the start of the evening was. There were no stern-faced producers or strict instructions on how to act, nor any party spin doctors shutting down questions.
A gentleman sitting next to me likened it to an evening he had at the theatre the previous week.

“It feels like a bit of a night out”, he said.

The evening’s tone was well set by host for the evening Sarah Smith, who kicked off the sound check by asking panel members what they were currently reading.

Surprisingly, the leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw were in almost unanimous agreement about their genre preferences.

Although there was a call for respectful debate at the beginning of the evening, including an audience member telling Wille Rennie to ‘be quiet’ with in the opening ten minutes, as the hour transpired so did the inevitability of interruptions.

READ MORE: Who won last night's debate? Have your say in our online poll

Leaders clashed passionately about the future of the country, key electoral concerns and of course why their party would be best suited to have your vote.

Sturgeon was the best orator of the four and perhaps enjoyed the biggest win of the night when she reminded audience members her party were the only ones giving the Scottish people a choice. The other three gentlemen on stage according to the SNP leader, “wanted to tell you what was happening”.

Carlaw stood in defiance to independence and was well backed by those against a second indy referendum in the audience. But he was also was laughed at for criticising politicians for using sensitive matters as a “political football”, perhaps forgetting Jack Merritt’s father had justifiably condemned the Prime Minister’s politicising of his son’s death.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard also seemed to enjoy good backing from the audience, but his delivery held him back at times. He also looked uncomfortable when asked to back John McDonnell’s quotes about overthrowing capitalism.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson: voters now call Nicola Sturgeon 'that f***ing woman'

There was a palpable sense of care when discussing certain topics and Willie Rennie was intentful with the way he engaged with audience members. In particular, when a father spoke of his distaste for the way the mental health services were being run. But, he was continuously held back by the reminder that the state of healthcare was partly due to his party’s coalition in 2010.

The most interesting thing is although not fully, the political games were pre-empted by audience members and met with groans when played out. This felt quite important. There was an overriding feeling that audience members wanted to trust the politicians but needed to have their trust won back first.

Joshua Barrie is a third year university student, studying Multimedia Journalism at Glasgow Caledonian University