It’s 45 minutes since the debate ended so here’s a first settled view
Nick Clegg had another good debate. Perhaps not as stellar as last time but again he was very strong and there were real touches of Obama in his peroration and call for a politics that could be different and he ended witha real flourish. He did seem a little flustered at one point when the other two ganged up on him but ironically their aggression may work for him. He was particularly effective when dealing with his weakest subjects. He was very good in the immigration round but it is hard to know if his debating talents will compensate for the fact that he is pushing an unpopular policy – an amnesty for illegal immigrants. It is hard to see him losing much ground on this. There was nothing to stop his momentum and if anything he may have cemented his position. he will be pretty pleased tonight.
Jim: 10.31pm: Okay, thanks very much for all the comments, feedback and emails. Looking forward to seeing you all again in a week’s time for the grand showdown. Thanks again.
Jim: 10.13pm: Don’t want to give you opinion poll fatigue but there’s one more worth showing you – here’s a link to it. Ipsos MORI (for Reuters) suggests that support for Lib Dems has doubled in marginal seats, from 11 per cent to 23 per cent. Interestingly, the party isn’t taking seats from either of the two main parties. Instead:
The Liberal Democrat gains have come almost completely from people who were not sure they would vote a fortnight ago and now say they are sure that they will.
Jim: 10.07pm: A thought about Gordon Brown. His team must be delighted (if ComRes is right) that he has held his own with Cameron. That was not predicted by anyone. But the three seem to be bunched closely together, still, which bodes ill for anyone who doesn’t want a hung Parliament.
Jim: 10.01pm: It gets worse for the Tories – although Ladbrokes is paying out on a Cameron debate victory, interestingly. hat-tip Sophy Ridge at News of the World:
While David Cameron claimed victory in the instant poll done by YouGov/The Sun, Nick Clegg has stolen the crown in a poll by ComRes/ITV. The Lib Dem leader clinched victory with 33 per cent of the vote, with Brown and Cameron neck and neck on 30 per cent. And a massive 36 per cent said they planned to vote Lib Dem after tonight’s debate – more than both the Tories and Labour.
The three main parties’ health spokesman – Andy Burnham, Andrew Lansley and Norman Lamb – took part in a not entirely even tempered election hustings today in front of worthies from the British Medical Association, the King’s Fund and the Royal College of Nursing.
But it produced one good laugh. Early on, Mr Burnham declared on one particular issue: “I would agree with Norman ….” – a statement that produced instant giggles from the assembled doctors, nurses and policy wonks.
Nick Clegg’s newfound twin status as political wonder boy and hate figure of the Tory press seems to have made the British Liberal Democrat leader even more popular with the Twittering classes. The second-most popular topic on Twitter right now is “#NickCleggsFault“, mocking the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Spectator for their rabid attacks on the previously-ignored politician.
They know who Nick Clegg is. Now. But after several hours of vox popping in Stroud, a marginal Labour seat in the Cotswolds, I have failed to find a single Lib Dem voter.
Many I spoke to liked Clegg; quite a few thought he won last week’s debate; a couple believed he had been unfairly vilified this morning by the right-wing press*. But not one (out of about 25) was impressed enough to give him their vote.
Ken Clarke, shadow business secretary, is an angry man and thinks British politics is being trivialised.
“We are in danger of treating this election as if it is just some TV celebrity talent contest.
The most urgent question in this campaign is, quite simply, which party is capable of tackling public spending and getting a grip on the deficit.”