Cool debater Clegg helps Britain's also-ran party

Cool debater Clegg helps Britain's also-ran party

Lib Dems surge to top after stellar telly performance by their leader

Cool debater Clegg helps Britain's also-ran party

Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, perennial also-rans in the three-party contest that has dominated British politics for decades, has been buoyed by polls suggesting that last week’s first-ever televised debate between candidates for prime minister lifted his party into close contention with Labour and the Conservatives.

The election was already considered too close to call when it seemed likely to be a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives. Now, with some surveys showing the Liberals and Conservatives neck-and-neck and Labour trailing by a few points, political commentators are starting to say that the televised debate had the effect of a political volcano, remoulding the electoral landscape.

Clegg, a trim, tall, multilingual 43-year-old in a well-tailored suit, is nothing if not cool, the quality that appears to have transmitted itself to the television audience. True to form, he insisted as he travelled to one of the constituencies in the west of England that have long been sympathetic to the Liberal Democrats, that he was not going to allow the polls to turn his head.

When asked in an interview aboard the train what he thought of comparisons to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Clegg laughed. He said that any grand analogies — with Obama, with former prime minister Tony Blair in Labour’s landslide election victory in 1997 or with Winston Churchill, to cite three comparisons made by British newspapers at the weekend — were “daft.”

“Some of these claims are absurd,” he said. “I have my flaws and failings, but I’m sufficiently in touch with reality to know that what goes up can come down. The further people push you up, the further you have to fall. That’s the law of gravity.”
Clegg appears to be riding a maelstrom of voter disgust with the established parties. He is betting that one element of Obama’s winning formula — the re-engagement of millions of young people — could be at work here.
The New York Times

Record number of Asians in race

A record 89 candidates of Asian origin are in the fray for Britain’s May 6 general election, PTI reports from London. Valerie Vaz, sister of prominent Goa-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz, is among the candidates of Asian origin contesting the election.