Inevitably, the MPs' expenses row dominated the debate. I asked what local government could do to help rebuild trust between voters and politicians. We discussed how far local councillors would be affected by the current debacle. And we squeezed in a question on regeneration funding - but only just.
Such is the febrile atmosphere around Westminster these days, we didn't get anywhere close to talking about LAAs or MAAs.
First, here are the scores on the doors (euro and local). Euro election vote shares in 2004 were: Con 27%, Lab 23%, UKIP 16%, LibDem 15%, Green 15% and BNP 5%. And right now, the share of total councillors are: Con 44%, Lab 24%, LibDem 20%. Those numbers are going to change a lot next month.
Meanwhile, the PM today described Hazel Blears' expenses claim as "totally unacceptable behaviour". Her cheque-writing performance on telly last week has not gone down well. It looks like she won't be Communities Secretary this time next month. Possible successors include Healey himself - or Yvette Cooper, Margaret Beckett.
Here are the main headlines from tonight's debate:
- Healey presented a very gloomy outlook for the Labour Party. His local party campaigners had been "overwhelmed" by the expenses row in the last two weeks. He predicted that UKIP - and BNP - would both do well in next month's elections. Sounds like Labour are going to do very badly in the Euro Elections - my guess is 20% (or less) vote share.
- Healey said that the unfolding "political crash" and "crisis of confidence" in Parliament offered a big opportunity for local government to re-cast itself as a driver of devolution. But the debate tonight highlighted that councillors' expenses could become the next issue - and councillors could get tarnished by the Parliamentary brush.
- Spelman pushed the Tories' recent Control Shift green paper. She called for more transparency and accountability at the national and local levels, and made a rather belated call for particpatory budgeting (which Hazel likes). Healey hit back, calling Control Shift a "let down".
- Goldsworthy didn't much like the Tories' plans for 12 big city mayors - and hit out at part-time quango chiefs. She called for a bigger push for neighbourhood-level empowerment and police accountability - but didn't set out how the LibDems would grapple with the fall-off in capital investment over the next few years. Between now and 2014, Govt capital investment is set to fall from £44bn p.a. to £22 bn p.a..
Finally, Healey clarified that decisions on the £1bn Future Jobs Fund would be taken by "early August" - and new jobs would start to be created 3 months later. So set your alarms for early November...