Last Wednesday night I ‘outed’ myself as a Lib Dem supporter in this election. I tried to answer concerns that my saying this might disproportionately influence opinion among my students. Well blimey, within 48 hours, the Lib Dems were in first place in the polls. Something I said? Obviously not.
Last Thursday’s debate rendered it rather fashionable to be a Lib Dem and has caused a major headache for the Tories and Labour. Tonight’s debate is vitally important to see if the Lib Dems can maintain the momentum. Three additional factors need to be considered. First, around 10% of people will get their postal vote early next week (myself included) and will vote before the third debate next week. Second, the deadline for registering has now passed. That means there is a limit on the number of new voters anyone can win over – although the last debate resulted in a registering surge which together with poll evidence suggests the Lib Dems have picked up a lot of ‘new’ voters. Third, the new policy focus on the Lib Dems is no bad thing as it means they can explain their positions – positions on Trident will be popular if explained. Europe is still a trick one but if Cameron goes after the Lib Dems on this issue he will blow his own party apart and look like just another boggle eyed Tory.
We’ve seen the parties respond to the Lib Dem surge. Clegg is now having to deal with a lot of mud about payments made into his personal bank account. It seems a little odd but lets see how this pans out. I think the decision to delay publication if documents by Clegg is a mistake. He needs to kill this story before it bleeds any support from any possible bump in the debate tonight.
Meanwhile, the Tories seem to be in more bother over the Tory vote on the very day that they try to reassure gay voters. More on that from me next…