Clegg will emerge with a spring in his step, Brown can take comfort that he held his own, but in the Cameron camp, the recriminations will already have started

It is too early to say for certain what the impact of last night’s Leaders’ Debate will be.  Commentators in the media, vox pop and the Twitterati are quite at one in saying that Nick Clegg was, on the night, the most impressive.  How that will play out on May 6th, assuming the same performances are repeated in the next 2 debates, is hard to predict.

The fundamental question is who, if anyone, will the Lib Dems take votes from?  The problem for Clegg is that he has a Party that has been in decline in certain areas for years. In Brighton and Hove they are barely a shadow of their former selves.  With just two local councillors (and hardly the most inspiring, – at least in the case of one of them a rather negative individual), and no campaign to speak of, the Lib Dems are hardly going to set the campaigns on fire.

But elsewhere, in Eastbourne for example, there can now be high hopes of a surge to the Lib Dems and the prospect of a Tory defeat.  In that town let’s hope the Lib Dem takes votes from both Labour and the Conservatives.  In Brighton and Hove, votes lost from Labour to the Lib Dems could well result in Tory gains.  Hopefully, the strength of the Green campaign in Brighton Pavilion will prevent this from happening.  Caroline Lucas retains a head of steam, but the Greens must not become complacent, and this blog should not coax a sense of an inevitable Green win.  Thgere is still everything to lose.

My prediction is that Clegg takes more away from David Cameron than he does from Gordon Brown.  Cameron has traded on his ‘fresh approach’ to politics, but Clegg comes across as a nicer version, Cameron says he represents change, but Clegg comes across more of a Westminster outsider, while Cameron continues to slug it out with Brown.  Faced with the surly public schoolboy Cameron, Clegg comes across the nice guy that most mothers would be happy to see their daughter (or son) bring home.

As for Gordon Brown, his most effective pitch is to say be careful what you wish for just as the economy is beginning to settle down.  Last night gave anti-Labour voters the opportunity to consider which alternative they want – a not so nice, second rate Cameron or that nice Nick Clegg.  Labour will have generally consolidated its vote.  This morning, Clegg will emerge with a spring in his step, Brown can take comfort that he held his own (just), but in the Cameron camp, the recriminations will already have started.

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4 Responses

  1. It is all too easy to overlook how many votes the LibDems got in Brighton Pavilion last time. They are the key element.

  2. The Guardian has updated its account of the Clegg surge poll to point out that a tranche of the LibDem boost has come from other minority parties.

    I have remarked before that the LibDem vote is the wild card in all three constituencies here.

  3. The Sun’s headline this morning is a shock YouGov poll that puts Labour in 3rd place.

    With Labour training their guns on the Greens in Pavilion you’re right to warn that a Tory victory is a distinct possibility. On the other hand the Lib Dems have barely been contesting the seat so will we really see a similar surge here? Nearly all the shift to the Greens in Brighton since 2005 has come from ex Labour voters, not the Lib Dems. I reckon it’s unlikely that these people would switch allegiance a second time at this stage.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the underlying message is that people are feeling more optimistic about demanding a change in British politics.

  4. I think the ‘Clegg effect’ could be positive for the Green Party in B+H as it shows the positive response of the public to a alternative voice. It just depends who they think that voice is. Some voters who want to kick the government may move from Tory to Lib Dem, again helping the Greens, and possibly Labour a little. The Lib Dems did do very well last time – despite no campaign whatsoever – and their votes remain key to the end result in Pavilion in particular. I even saw a Lib Dem poster in a house yesterday!

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