First round to Clegg in TV debate

The Liberal Democrat leader is credited with stealing the advantage in three instant polls following the historic initial live clash with Tory leader David Cameron and Gordon Brown on ITV last night.

Capitalising on his equal billing with the two main party leaders, Clegg presented himself as the voice of “fairness” and challenged his rivals to be honest with the public.
These tactics appeared to have paid off with three separate polls, and also an unscientific straw poll which we conducted live using Twitter, put  Clegg far ahead of Cameron and Brown.

Research by YouGov for The Sun in the immediate aftermath of the 90-minute session suggested the Lib Dem leader had impressed voters most saying that Clegg was rated as the most impressive by 51 per cent, a clear lead over Cameron on 29 per cent and The Prime Minister on 19 per cent.

A text message poll for Sky News by Fizzback also rated Clegg highest, with 37 per cent of the 1,608 voters polled with Brown came second with 32 per cent of the votes and Mr Cameron lagged behind with 31 per cent.

Represented as a score of -10 to +10, voters responded positively to
Brown’s background (+6) but negatively to his likeability (-4).

Whilst using the same scoring, Cameron’s background was a turn-off for voters (-6) and they thought he needed to improve his likeability (-1).

A ComRes poll for ITV News also found that Clegg had emerged victorious with the Lib Dem leader  rated as the winner by 43 per cent of the 4,032 viewers polled, nearly double Cameron’s score of 26 per cent and Brown’s 20 per cent.

Asked which leader would be most trusted to make any necessary cuts to public services, Clegg and Cameron were neck and neck on 36 per cent, ahead of Brown on 28 per cent.

But the Tory leader had a slender advantage on the issue of immigration, with 37 per cent thinking he had the best policies compared with 35 per cent for Clegg and 20 per cent for Brown.

The three men vying to be Prime Minister clashed over the economy, defence and care for the elderly today in the unprecedented television confrontation before a live studio audience in Manchester and millions more watching at home.

While Cameron said the Prime Minister was planning to “go on wasting now so I can put up your taxes later”, Brown responded that Tory plans to cut £6 billion from government spending risked tipping Britain into a “double-dip recession”.

Clegg was able to cut through this battle between the two main parties accusing them of “sounding exactly the same”. All parties recognised that cuts must be made and the question for voters was “Who is going to be straight with you about the scale of those cuts?”

After the launch of the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem manifestos earlier this week, there were no new policy announcements.

The trio will clash at two further debates on Sky News and BBC One on the two remaining Thursdays before the May 6 election.