Howard Dean backs Nick Clegg as next PM

by Stephen Tall on April 1, 2010

And no, this is not an April Fool joke, for those of a mischievous mindset – the former Democratic Presidential hopeful and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee has publicly stated he thinks the Lib Dems could win the election. Here’s how the BBC reports it:

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg could be the surprise winner of the UK’s general election, former US presidential candidate Howard Dean has said. Mr Dean praised Mr Clegg as a “young, dynamic leader”. And he said he could be the big winner from Britain’s first televised election debates, capitalising on disillusion with the two larger parties.

Speaking to BBC Parliament and US network C-Span, Mr Dean said:

I don’t think there’ll ever be a coalition between the Liberals and the Labour government. I know the Liberals, I know Nick Clegg very well, and he intends to win this and I think they could. So you may have a hung Parliament but I think you won’t have a coalition. At least not that coalition going forward.”

“It’s a different [electoral] system ours, first-past-the-post, but I think the debates are going to be enormously helpful to everybody. He is a young, dynamic leader that they don’t know much about and the Brits really would like a change. Just the fact that Labour and the Conservatives are so close shows that the Conservatives are not what they want either.

“They’re mad at Labour, they don’t want the Conservatives, they happen to have a young dynamic leader, leading a party that in fact has been in power in Britain and run governments in Britain, although not for the past many decades, and I think those debates are going to put them all on an equal footing and I think Nick Clegg could make a lot of hay out of this.”

And asked if Nick could be the next British prime minister, Mr Dean said: “I think he could”. Well, that may be a bridge too far for the moment. But all support is welcome, and an endorsement from Howard Dean is no small tribute to the efforts the Lib Dems have put into fostering alliances with the US Democrats.