Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Bangladesh: Textile workers' lives still at risk?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

José Bové, Candidate for the EU Commission presidency, Group of the Greens

Read more

WEB NEWS

NYPD's online campaign backfires

Read more

ENCORE!

Celebrating the Bard's birthday in Britain

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate of the East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

USA: Executions halted over drugs secrecy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

An overly optimistic plan?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

#NYPD Fail

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Soaring iPhone sales in China boost Apple earnings

Read more

  • Russia orders military drills as Ukraine moves on separatists

    Read more

  • Israel halts Middle East peace talks over Hamas deal

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills US doctors in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Platini: PSG in danger over Financial Fair Play rules

    Read more

  • Ségolène Royal denies banning cleavage at French ministry

    Read more

  • Palestinian unity deal stirs anger in Israel

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • US soldiers arrive in Poland as Ukraine crisis continues

    Read more

  • Fatah, Hamas agree to form Palestinian unity government

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

  • Colombian president reinstates firebrand Bogota mayor

    Read more

  • NYPD public relations campaign on Twitter goes awry

    Read more

  • In pictures: Violent protests erupt in Rio

    Read more

Europe

Instant polls declare 'third man' Nick Clegg the debate winner

©

Video by Molly Hall

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-03

Opinion polls following Britain’s first-ever televised general election debate suggested Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, had won Thursday night’s debate against his rivals, PM Gordon Brown and Conservative chief David Cameron.

AFP - Britain's party leaders clashed Thursday in a first-ever live pre-election TV debate, but there was no killer blow -- although the head of the third party emerged as a clear winner.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative chief David Cameron traded verbal blows in front of a carefully chosen audience, battling over issues from the economy to Afghanistan deemed crucial ahead of next month's ballot.
  
But it was Nick Clegg, leader of third party the Liberal Democrats, who came out as the winner -- at least according to an instant poll that gave him 43 percent support, against 26 percent for Cameron and 20 percent for Brown.
  
With polls suggesting a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party, Clegg's performance was being closely watched: his party could play a role in forming a government after the May 6 general election.
  
Dressed in suits and standing behind podiums, the leaders appeared nervous as the first such debate in British election history got under way -- but it quickly descended into political scrapping.
  
There were fierce clashes between Brown and Cameron on the economy, a key issue in the election as Britain recovers from its worst recession since the 1930s.
  
Brown repeatedly accused the Tories of planning to cut six billion pounds (nine billion dollars, seven billion euros) of public spending by slashing a planned rise in payroll taxes by his Labour party.
  
"If you take that money out now I fear for what could happen, and I do not want to have a double dip recession in this country," he said, voicing concern that Britain could slip back into negative growth after its fragile recovery.
  
But the Tory leader hit back, saying: "Cut the waste, stop the tax, that is the right answer."
  
Clegg, meanwhile, repeatedly argued that he offered a chance for real change in Britain.
  
"Don't let them tell you that the only choice is between two old parties who have been playing pass the parcel with your government for 65 years."
  
The Liberal Democrats have long trailed in third place in opinion polls.
  
On this night at least however, Clegg appeared to have made the greatest impact: a poll of 4,000 people taken immediately after the debate gave him a large lead.
  
Clegg was deemed the winner by 43 percent in the poll conducted by the ITV broadcaster, which hosted the 90-minute debate.
  
Cameron scored 26 percent, while 20 percent of those asked thought Brown had won. Eleven percent said none of the three emerged as clear winner.
  
The debate in Manchester, northwest England, was expected to attract 20 million viewers, comparable with the audience for a major England World Cup football match.
  
There were no major slip-ups in the tightly controlled showdown -- it was governed by 76 rules hammered out in painstaking negotiations between broadcasters and the parties.
  
Cameron, the media-friendly 43-year-old seeking to topple Brown and take the Conservatives back to power after 13 years of Labour dominance, had expressed concern that the strict rules could lead to a stilted debate.
  
Brown is said to have struggled in rehearsals for the debates -- but he gave an assured performance and his fierce attacks on the rival leaders forced the moderator to weigh in to control the discussion on several occasions.
  
For Clegg, the debate was a rare opportunity to earn equal billing with the two main party leaders.
  
He made clear attempts to connect directly with spectators, remembering in his closing speech the names of the audience members who had put questions throughout the night.
  
Brown tried the same trick -- but came up with only one name. He also attempted to show off his pop culture credentials, pointing out the debate was not on at the same time as talent shows "The X-Factor" or "Britain's Got Talent."

 

Date created : 2010-04-16

  • UNITED KINGDOM

    Party leaders clash in Britain's first-ever televised debate

    Read more

  • UNITED KINGDOM

    Televised election debates follow strict rules

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)