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Paxman marks the start of the Clegg surge

Michael Crick | 11:30 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

If the Lib Dem surge is maintained and they do end up with an extraordinary result, then the histories of this campaign should trace it back to Jeremy Paxman's interview with Nick Clegg last Monday - as my colleague David Grossman suggested in his film on Newsnight on Saturday.

Clegg performed well with Paxman. He made no gaffes, didn't stumble, and wasn't embarrassed at all.

More important it gave Clegg huge confidence ahead of last Thursday's debate, especially at a time when both Gordon Brown and David Cameron seemed to be running scared of Paxman.

(Brown has since agreed to do an interview - next Monday - and Cameron has now agreed in principle at least.)

Nick Clegg certainly seemed to be on excellent form when I followed him to Oldham last Wednesday - relaxed, light-hearted, good humoured, but incisive, an excellent campaigner.

I suspect the Paxman interview may have made a crucial difference to Clegg, persuading him he could really compete with the big boys, and was no longer Calamity Clegg (as the Chris Huhne campaign once dubbed him).

And it may also have sewn a few more doubts in the minds of Cameron and Brown.


  • Comment number 1.

    Quite likely, being the only one to voluntarily go through trial by newsnight rotweiler suggests a certain moral courage and honesty if nothing else. The more evasive and spin driven the interviewee, the more foolish JP makes them look generally. The fact he survived in tact is the best anyone ever does with JP, that counts as a resounding success.

    Perhaps that is why DC is avoiding it? He is probably the most spin orintated of the three leaders.

    Neither of them can have the same impact with jeremy as NC now, for the reasons given above, no matter how they perform they will both leave a perception behind them that they did not go willingly in JP's arena.

    Both of them will probably do thier chances more harm than good by trying, gordon will go ahead anyway, because he is delusional about his own political skills, then by default cameron will have to follow kicking and screaming, simply so as not to look like he chickened out!

    Its a lose lose situation for them me thinks.... looking forward to it already!

  • Comment number 2.


    I think you are over stating Paxman's ability to test the metal of said politicians. He's purely a good antogoniser (who can pull a good dumb-founded face), nothing more.

    A latter day Sir Robin Day...he ain't!

  • Comment number 3.

    Clegg had a good interview with Paxman because he took Jeremy on...Paxman is not used to that and it seemed to throw him,,,,

  • Comment number 4.

    the public just fancy a laugh. like with the xmas single. voting for the weird option. an electable monster raving looney?

  • Comment number 5.

    Michael, here in Smolensk butcher shop, we are wonder if Clogg in fact relate to our local handsome local milkman Dmitri (we are say before he is look like). Clogg is handle Paxman plenty well. But I have seen Dmitri argue with Razors Maxim, who organise security for Big Oleg, local oligarch and protections boss. Maxim is say Dmitri is overcharge for half litre milk and one peach melba yoghurt each day, but even though Max is smash up empties on Dmitri cart, he is hold ground and get money. Clogg is have plenty bottle too! Dmitri is annoy as Clogg is get local ladies swooning (well, the 0.5% who are follow British elections) and have advantage of excellent policy on Trident. Dmitri is agree, but cannot deliver policy only dairy products.

  • Comment number 6.

    Regardless of whatever political persuasion anyone is, Clegg gained a lot of respect by undergoing an interview with Jeremy, and winning the ITV debate too. Kudos to Clegg!

    @ DebtJuggler #2 - I'd classify Jeremy as being BETTER than the late Sir Robin Day. Yes, Day was a pioneer in his time, but Jeremy has taken that MANY levels higher.

  • Comment number 7.

    Michael, point of order: you sow a doubt like a seed, you don't sew it like a button. Sewing a doubt into someone's mind sounds rather macarbre.


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