Saturday, April 17, 2010

Clegg Causes a Panic.

The papers are going ballistic today about what Nick Clegg winning the debates means for both the Tories and Labour in the coming election.

The Guardian:

A quarter of voters who watched the three leaders on the ITV programme say they will switch their vote, with most changing to the Liberal Democrats.

Clegg emerges from the telephone poll as the overwhelming winner, with 51% who watched saying he came out on top. David Cameron and Gordon Brown trail in far behind: 20% say Cameron won and 19% Brown.

The Independent:

There was a frenzy in the Westminster village yesterday. The ComRes website crashed as word spread of a poll showing the Liberal Democrats only one point behind the Tories with Labour a poor third. It turned out to be less dramatic when the figures, from 4,000 people who watched the debate, were extrapolated into national share of the vote, which showed the Tories seven points ahead of Labour.

Despite that, there were distinct echoes of the rise of the SDP-Liberal Alliance in the 1980s, the last spell of three-party politics in Britain.

I suppose such hyperbole is to be expected when an unpopular government goes up against an opposition which has not made a sufficient case for change.

All things suddenly seem possible.

The Tories are said to be seeking to take aim at Clegg:
David Cameron conceded that Clegg had performed strongly, as his aides reviewed how they could puncture the Liberal Democrat leader's image as the anti-establishment outsider. Tory sources, ruing Cameron's personal decision to grant Clegg equal status in the three debates, started to point to his past as a full-time European commission bureaucrat, as well as his firm Europhile views.
It's so typical of the Tories to imagine that Clegg's pro-European stance will be enough to alienate voters, as if their own prejudices on the subject are somehow widely felt.

But, all in all, I think this is a storm in a tea cup. Clegg did very well in the debate, but he is not going to be our next Prime Minister.

Although his performance probably increases the chance that we are facing a hung parliament or a very slight Tory majority.

For that, we should be grateful to him.

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