Clegg Steals the Spotlight
Stealing the spotlight at last week’s historic event, the UK’s first ever televised debate between party leaders, Nick Clegg showed the country that there’s something more than just the tweedle-dee, tweedle-dum, choices of Labour and Conservative.
Indeed, the best line of the debate may have been when Clegg pointed out: “The more they attack each other, the more they sound like one another.”
However, what we really stood out in that debate was the constant refrain of incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying “I agree with Nick”.
Well, apparently, so do the rest of the British public, as the LibDems went from also-rans to front-runners, taking the lead in the opinion polls this weekend, 33% against 32% for Conservatives and just 26% for the incumbent Labour party.
Now the knives are out. Between attacking the LibDems as a wasted vote or a vote for Labour and attacking the LibDems on their immigration and Trident missile policies, the Labour and Conservatives are indeed proving Nick right – the more the two big parties go on the attack, the more they sound alike. Sure, the LibDems might not hold majoritarian positions on immigration or Europe or nuclear weapons, but they hold liberal views on all these issues. And in a three-way race for power, the LibDems don’t need to be chasing the same voters Labour and Conservatives are doing – in fact, their refusal to do so is exactly what’s setting them apart and giving liberals and disenchanted voters something to go after.
It’s too early to say if the polls will hold much less realign the country and break the mold of politics. The LibDems may not manage to turnout the voters they do realign. Still, it’s an exciting election, one that makes me wish I were British, if only for a month.