Nick Clegg leaders’ debate win: your LDV reader

by Stephen Tall on April 16, 2010

Here’s a welcome problem to have this morning … wading our way through the sheer volume of media news that’s positive for the Lib Dem following Nick Clegg’s terrific performance in last night’s televised lesaders’ debate.

Let’s make a start with the newspaper editorials:

Nick Clegg’s night (Guardian)

Expectations shape reactions, which is why Britain’s first televised leaders’ debate will be judged not just in terms of how the three men involved in it performed, but what was predicted before they began speaking. On that measure, Nick Clegg thrived, David Cameron disappointed and Gordon Brown survived.

The Other One Wins: Nick Clegg seized his moment (Times)

Nick Clegg took his chance and changed a two-man competition into something that looks more like a three-horse race.

Clegg uses first TV debate to best effect (Telegraph)

And then there’s the commentators:

The winner was Clegg, partly for being there (Steve Richards, Independent)

The winner was Clegg, partly for being there. In front of an audience his predecessors would have died for he was calm and authoritative while managing to pull off the awkward balance of appearing distant from the leaders of the bigger two parties without seeming eccentric and on the margins. Crucially he seemed relevant. By the end he was almost shameless in his proclamations of dismissing the others while promising vaguely “real change”.

‘I agree with Nick’ was the night’s real catchphrase (Jonathan Freedland, Guardian)

[this] was a debate that surpassed expectations. But that was not the greatest surprise of the night, an honour that went to the Liberal Democrat leader. From the start, Clegg asserted himself as the star of the show, anointed as such by a whopping 51% of those surveyed by an instant Sun/YouGov poll.

Nick Clegg was the winner in this historic leaders’ debate (Martin Kettle, Guardian)

Clegg, treated fairly by the system for once and not barracked by backbench bullies from the other parties, had most to gain and duly gained it. “We need to be clear with you and straight with you” may sound like political blah but voters like honesty.

This was a huge evening for the Liberal Democrats. Clegg was helped merely by being there. But he also had to prove he was worthy of his equality with Brown and Cameron. There’s not much doubt that he succeeded. … His final pitch was significant. Yes, he said, there is an alternative. It’s not true that the parties are all the same. There’s another option which Labour and the Tories will never give you.

Look into my eyes (Bagehot, Economist)

Nick Clegg grasped the need to talk through the camera to the audience at home better than the other two. And whereas Vince Cable’s central position in the chancellors’ debate helped to make him look statesmanlike, Mr Clegg’s position at the side of the stage supported his bid to portray himself as an insurgent. He has always been more persuasive and personable than the lack of coverage he generally commands would suggest. It isn’t surprising that voters seem to have warmed to him—though I half-expected his liberal stance on prisons and views on Trident to put people off.

And here’s a few other press cutting that will put a smile on the faces of Lib Dems today …

Armchair election: First thoughts on the debate (Robert Shrimsley, FT)

Nick Clegg dominated proceedings and must be held to have been the clear winner in the actual contest. He always had the easiest task and it is no surprise he came out well but I never expected him to be quite such a commanding figure. He was clear, articulate, forceful without being overly aggressive. He seemed relaxed (possibly too much so – I wondered about the hands in the pocket stance) and always spoke directly to the camera.


Kingmaker Clegg wins the TV war of words – and moves Britain even closer to a hung parliament
(Daily Mail)

The prospect of a hung parliament moved a giant step closer today after Nick Clegg emerged as the big winner in last night’s TV debate. Liberal Democrats were today hailing their leader’s performance as a potential ‘game-changer’ in the General Election campaign as one survey showed 61 per cent of viewers thought he came out on top over Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Sun dial tells who shone (Sun)

The panel showed an overwhelming triumph for Nick Clegg. He had more soundbites, better context and was successful in differentiating himself from the other two.

Nick Clegg: the new Susan Boyle in the politics show Britain’s Not Got Talent (Gerald Warner, Telegraph)

Clegg, the outsider, wowed the television audience and the votes rolled in. He’ll be cutting an album any day now – if he is not otherwise engaged, cutting things in a coalition government.

David Cameron weakest, says body language expert (Telegraph)
Professor Patrick O’Donnell, Glasgow University:

In terms of warmth, Clegg won by a mile. He was relaxed and made a lot of appeasement gestures to show he was on your side – the kind of person you would like to go for a pint with.

If I was Cameron’s backers I would be worried. He came across all the time as anxious and worried. His whole manner was slightly aloof, always on the back foot. And he has gestures that are weak. He always wears a quizzical frown that looks like he doesn’t know what is going on. He waves his hands like a conductor waves a baton, but not firmly.”


Most Lib Dem bloggers have a view – check them all out over at Ryan Cullen’s Aggregator.