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Will you vote for Nick?

The Clegg Factor - will you switch to Lib-Dem?

Published on April 27th 2010.

Will you vote for Nick?

Those Leader Debates eh? Suddenly as if by magic, two likely lads have become three.

Nick Clegg has stylishly beaten Gordon Brown and David Cameron over the two debates we've had so far. He's displayed sang froid when necessary but a bit of passion too. He's shown himself statesmanlike. From the joker in the pack he's become the man who would be king – or PM.

On policy, aside from his bonkers zonal immigration plan he's probably come out on top over constitutional reform, banking, the economy, education and health. With his pay rises for the lower ranks of the armed services he might also have won out on defence - although in the Confidential office at least we're split this morning 7-5 in favour of keeping Trident, contrary to the Liberal Democrats' policy.

People have criticised the Leaders Debates, saying they're like X-Factor, a personality contest. Yes of course they are; well apart from the intelligence of these contestants and the importance of their 'talent show' and the lack of cutaways to anguished faces saying, “I've dreamt about it all my life, it's make or break time.” Although the closing statements from Cameron, Brown and Clegg sound a bit that way.

But those who complain about the debates are, in truth, being silly, politics is all about charisma.

Think Obama, think Blair rather than Brown. When Churchill 110 years ago campaigned for Parliament in Oldham, he would get a 1500 capacity crowd to turn up regularly to the main theatre to listen to him. His rivals got a couple of hundred. Shouldn't we want our leaders to be 'big' characters? Natural leaders always are.

Clegg might be a long way from that level of charisma, but his success is placing doubt in the minds of longstanding voters of Labour and the Tories.

My brain's the biggest - look

The editor of Confidential was talking to a trad Labour voter the other day who was almost weeping over the fact that he felt Labour had let him down and that Clegg's education and economic policies were more appealing. He could hardly believe that he was going to vote against Labour for the first time.

That's the key. If Clegg can get more people to move that X they've always placed in the Labour or Conservative box, through gut-feeling or tradition, to one placed in a Lib-Dem box ,based on what people have heard from him, then he may get, if nothing else his place on the top table of a hung government.

There's regional form in this too. Much of Greater Manchester was traditionally Liberal (or Whig) before it was Labour, much of it remains so.

Will you swap your vote? Will you vote for the Liberal Democrats? Has Nick Clegg got you on his side?

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