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Third Party Knocks Labor Down to Third Place

Nick Clegg's solid debate performance reshaped Britain's already chaotic election season.

by
Andrew Ian Dodge

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April 20, 2010 - 12:00 am
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A volcanic eruption isn’t the only event causing chaos in the UK.

Long an election season staple in the U.S., the UK saw it’s first prime ministerial debate last week. It was also the first time that the leader of a British third party was given the same exposure as a Labor or Conservative leader. Just being included was a big victory for Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and 9.4 million Britons tuning in was a bonus.

By all accounts it was a lackluster debate, but Nick Clegg was declared the clear winner (click here for a video recap), and the Liberal Democrats have managed to turn this into a huge poll gain. Labor has now dropped to third place.

Clegg did well enough that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron were moved to praise him. The First Post stated:

Nick Clegg wins by a mile, as Brown appears to gang up with Lib Dem leader against David Cameron.

Others were not so thrilled with Clegg, but see why he won:

So how did the candidates fare? Well, Nick Clegg was judged the winner by the commentariat, and opinion polls. I don’t disagree — his anti-politics, “let’s be honest here” shtick worked well — but Clegg still left me cold.

All three parties are literally neck and neck in the polls, though speculation has turned to whether or not the Liberal Democrats can hold on to the gains. Labor and the Conservatives have focused their rhetoric on the Liberal Democrats, and Cameron has even begun to speak of “the dangers” of a hung parliament.

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