The first televised debate between party leaders has ended and the verdicts are in: it’s good news for the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg. Not only has the country’s third-ranked party enjoyed equal media exposure with its rivals, Clegg was widely tipped to have won the encounter on ITV against David Cameron and Gordon Brown.
The leaders clashed on immigration, crime, health, education, the economy and military spending. But were dividing lines between the parties easily apparent to viewers?
Sixty-one per cent of viewers chose Mr Clegg as the winner after the 90-minute showdown, according to an immediate online poll conducted by Populus for The Times. That compared with 22 per cent for David Cameron, the Tory leader and just 17 per cent for Gordon Brown.
Labour and the Tories turned their guns on Nick Clegg today, hoping to bring the Liberal Democrat leader straight back to earth after his outsider’s victory in last night’s first televised campaign debate.
There are two more debates to go, and both are likely to be characterised by Clegg gains and overtures towards him by his ‘rivals’. Tonight it got a bit too much for the Lib Dem leader, who failed to mask a laugh when Brown said he “agreed with Nick” on the issue of parliamentary reform.
“I agree with Nick,” was the message of the night. The question for voters on May 6th is do they agree with him too?
A hung parliament looks increasingly likely and Clegg’s Lib Dem MPs could determine who holds sway in a coalition government.
What do you think? Do you think the Lib Dems won the first debate?