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Daily View: The Liberal Democrats' rise in the polls

Clare Spencer | 11:06 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

Commentators react to the Liberal Democrats' increased popularity in the polls.

Check our interactive guide to the opinion polls

Nick CleggMartin Kettle in the Guardian calls the leap in the polls the most important political moment since the early days of New Labour:

"The Lib Dem surge owes much to Nick Clegg's performance on Thursday. That's clear. But it would not have happened if the British electorate was not already prepared, maybe only half consciously, for a larger change than the two main parties offer. The desire for change may not be all that coherent, and we need to be careful not to exaggerate the size of the part of the electorate that is up for it. But this is a mood looking for someone to speak for it. For the moment, it has found that in Clegg and the Lib Dems."

Political blogger Mike Smithson asks if Nick Clegg has become more popular because he is taller:

"There's an old adage about US presidential elections which has been magnified since TV debates started in 1960 - the tallest contender generally ends up winning the election.
"I wonder whether the effect could be happening here. Did Clegg's stature give him an edge last Thursday night and might that be a good pointer to May 6th?"

Gary Gibbon at Channel 4 News asks what can be learned:

"Labour and the Conservatives will be trying to borrow some of Nick Clegg's best debate lines from him (the PM on Marr this morning was talking about being "shocked at the moral bankruptcy" of Goldman Sachs ... whilst adding "I'm the man" to sort it out) whilst rubbishing his policies.
"This election could turn out to be as convulsive and fluid as 1924 or 1929, when all three main political tectonic plates were moving at the same time."

In the Daily Mail Andrew Pierce points a finger of blame at the Conservative party for allowing the Liberal Democrats to have equal billing at the TV debate:

"It's a political miscalculation so monumental that it's even being compared to Neil Kinnock bellowing 'we're all right', days before he lost the 1992 general election.
So who on earth was to blame for allowing David Cameron to share a TV platform alongside Nick Clegg, thereby allowing the LibDem leader to portray himself as a serious contender for Downing Street, rather than a risible also-ran?
"Among the Tory ranks, the inquest has already identified two guilty figures."

James Forsyth in the Spectator looks at how David Cameron's Tories might try to "stem the Lib Dem tide":

"[T]hey need to establish Cameron as the insurgent, anti-establishment candidate. It might seem odd to urge the leader of the Conservative party to be the anti-establishment candidate, but the establishment in this country is now essentially soft-left. Just look at how senior police chiefs are threatening to resign over Cameron's plans for elected police commissioners who would be accountable to the public and set the priorities of the local force (another transformative Tory policy that Cameron didn't mention during the debate). Cameron needs to run against these people. He should be the tribune of the people pledging to return power to them from the unaccountable and the unelectable."

In the Independent Bruce Anderson warns that the Liberal Democrats "seem to be able to get away with anything":

"During Thursday's debate, Nick Clegg announced that in the Ministry of Defence, there were 8,000 bureaucrats working on communications. As I listened, I thought: 'Eh? That can't be right. We know this Government is disappearing up its own spin, but this is ridiculous.' It was. The true figure is 178: still too high, but not lunatic. Mr Clegg was guilty of a 40-fold exaggeration, but that was not his worst offence. The 8,000 figure was utterly implausible. Anyone who could give it credence must have a wholly deficient sense of reality."

Links in full

GuardianMartin Kettle | Guardian | Election 2010: A brave new world
Political BettingMike Smithson | Political Betting | Is it simply that Clegg's the tallest
MailAndrew Pierce | Daily Mail | Who's to blame for David Cameron's TV nightmare?
IndependentBruce Anderson | Independent | Don't be taken in by Clegg's 'niceness'
SpectatorJames Forsyth | Spectator | How Cameron can stem the Lib Dem tide
Channel 4Gary Gibbon | Channel 4 News | Learning from the unexpected poll surge for the Lib Dems

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