by Stephen Tall on May 3, 2010
Pushed for time, but want to keep up-to-date with how the campaign’s going? Here are today’s must-reads …
Clegg’s journey to the promised land (The Independent)
A profile of Nick Clegg’s campaign:
… when he arrives at Oxford Brookes University the hundreds of students packing the hall greet him, if not like a rock idol, with an excitement seldom, if ever, generated by a British politician in these times. The journalists squeezed into the front of the bus include two senior German correspondents urged by their offices to explain the Clegg phenomenon. … It is as if Clegg realises, at least subconsciously, that his potency as a national electoral force now outweighs the advantages of a politician’s caution. And sure enough, when he leaves the Oxford hall after his question-and-answer session, the huge amoeba-like mob of TV crews surrounding the Liberal Democrat leader on the lawn outside testifies to the fact that Clegg is the undisputed story of the 2010 election campaign.
The Lib Dem surge, along with claims by the Tories and Lib Dems that the Labour vote is going into freefall, has opened up many more possibilities for both opposition parties. “There are huge numbers of Labour to Lib Dem switchers, which gives us an advantage in seats you wouldn’t expect and we hope to exploit [that],” said one Tory source. … Unexpected wins in the North could include Newcastle North and Redcar, which Nick Clegg visited yesterday, despite Labour’s 12,116 majority over the Lib Dems. Farther south, the party believes seats such as Wells and Torridge and West Devon are in play, with even the possibility of success in Dorset West — the seat held by Oliver Letwin, the Tory policy chief. “I think we are on course for 80-100 seats,” said one campaign insider.
Cleggmania could change the world’s elections (Mark Penn, Times)
A US perspective on the Lib Dem surge:
The growth of a third choice in this election provides an interesting wake-up call for the two establishment parties in the UK, but it also offers a warning to the Democrats and Republicans of what they may face in the future. … Mr Clegg’s performance was undoubtedly impressive in the first debate, but the surge of support he received afterwards was probably more a result of the electorate’s pent-up frustration at the lack of choice in the political system than any specific policies he outlined. If you can have 155 types of coffee, why would you be satisfied with just two political flavours? … this [Lib Dem] rise could well be a game-changer for the rest of the world in general and America in particular — if a third party can break through in tradition-bound Britain, it can surely happen anywhere.