UK

Can UK liberal hold on to his soaring popularity for election?

After the first battle in a three part televised debate between Britain's major party leaders led to a massive boost for the "third man", Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has been catapulted into the spotlight, lavished over and picked apart by both the electorate and the press. Welcome to the UK, where "Cleggmania" is contagious... but for how long?

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Image from YouTube video posted by "mortydraw".

After the first battle in a three part televised debate between Britain's major party leaders led to a massive boost for the "third man", Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has been catapulted into the spotlight, lavished over and picked apart by both the electorate and the press. Welcome to the UK, where "Cleggmania" is contagious... but for how long?

He's been compared with Barack Obama on "change", Winston Churchill on popularity, and singer Susan Boyle on ability to surprise. Yet only a few weeks ago, the majority of the British electorate didn't even know who Nick Clegg was, confusing him with far-right leader Nick Griffin of the British National Party.

Since last Thursday however, Clegg has become more talked about than Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron. Is the dazzling performance that brought him the attention to be repeated a week later, on the second part of the debate tonight?

The good and the bad of "Cleggmania"

A "special report" by the satirical bloggers at Guy News:

Posted on the Guido Fawkes blog.

More popular than Jesus...

Image posted on Cranmer blog, with the following comment:

"Topping the bill, upstaging the Son of God, the latest political Messiah. Doubtless he will prove as false and disappointing as all the others."

Indeed, not everyone was impressed with Clegg's performance last Thursday. Blogger Man Widdicome compared the leader's presentation to that of a TV singing contestant:

Posted by Man Widdicome on 19 April 2010.

“A lot of his support is to do with the media, and if they continue with very negative, exaggerated stories about him, then this might fade”

Sonia Gable is a political activist from London. She has supported the Liberal Democrats for several years and voted for Nick Clegg in the last party leadership election, which is open to all party members.

His popularity arises from last week's leadership debate, obviously. I think it was firstly as a result of his own good performance and secondly because of the contrast between him and the poorer performances of David Cameron and Gordon Brown.

Clegg gave good clear answers to the questions that viewers could identify with and came across as natural and likeable, but also showed good leadership qualities. Brown came across as defensive and not wholly believable and people do not identify with Cameron and his policies. Clegg is new to ordinary voters and represents change and rejection of the tired old parties. Brown has been in government for 13 years and people react to his election promises by asking why he hasn't done what he promises in the past 13 years. Cameron represents protection of the interests of the wealthy rather than those of ordinary people.

In last week's debate the other candidates were trying to exclude him or, in Brown's case, get him on his side. This time however, they'll have to take him seriously. You can see from both the British press and the Labour and Conservative press releases, they've got the knives out. But, they won't be able to gang up on him too much, because they'll have to play to the public, now that he's become so popular.

Tonight's debate is going to feature foreign affairs and they might attack Clegg on his positive stance towards the euro. Seeing as there is not much public support for joining the euro here, Clegg will probably downplay the issue and counter attack the Conservatives for wanting to pull out of Europe all together.

A lot of his support is to do with the media, and if they continue with very negative, exaggerated stories about him, then this might fade. The current wave of support for him is soft; it's not a committed support. But it only needs to last a few weeks..."

“I agree with Nick”

The phrase "I agree with Nick" has been adopted by Clegg fans as the unofficial campaign slogan after Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it so many times in last week's debate. Pointed out in the following video....

Posted on YouTube by "mortydraw" 16 April 2010.

An online company is already selling T-shirts, baby-grows and dog clothes emblazoned with the slogan.

Posted on Flickr by Brett Patterson, 21 April 2010.

Felt badge created and posted by Laura Howard on Flickr, 19 April 2010.