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Nick Clegg sets hearts aflutter

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Forget the Liberal Democrat policy on the Single Transferable Vote. It’s 43-year-old Nick Clegg’s boyish looks that are winning round the voters.

“I think that obviously everyone thinks that Nick Clegg is the most attractive option,” Farah, a 27-year-old lawyer, told me as she watched Clegg work a crowd of party supporters outside Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Was she referring to his appearance? “I think that would be the general consensus of a lot of women,” she said laughing with embarrassment.

“Don’t you think he looks like Colin Firth?” another female observer, aged 33, said to me at the same event. If they make another sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary Clegg looks a shoe-in as the love interest.

Others said it was his personality they found appealing. “He comes across as more knowing and calm and someone you can trust in,” said Claire,  a 20-year old speech and therapy student at De Montfort University in Leicester.

Twitter users turn on Brown after “bigot” gaffe

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We’re still waiting to find out if Gordon Brown’s gaffe in Rochdale yesterday (if you missed it, he called a 66-year-old, lifelong Labour voter a “bigoted woman”) does serious damage to his party’s performance in the opinion polls. What is certain is that it was the first serious blunder of the election campaign and the shockwaves were immediately visible on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Throughout the election run-in U.S. research firm Crimson Hexagon has been conducting exlusive research for Reuters.co.uk — archiving all UK political tweets and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. The three main parties have each experienced ups and downs throughout the campaign. Not surprisingly, we saw a spike in positive Liberal Democrat tweets  following Nick Clegg’s impressive performance during the first leaders’ debate, while positive sentiment towards David Cameron’s Conservatives has dwindled since we started analysing tweets on March 22.

Will a hung parliament create a serious hangover for British business?

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parliamentElection day is fast approaching and with the poll gap narrowing between the Conservatives and Labour, there is a very real probability that the UK will end up with a hung parliament. For the first time since 1974, the UK may be left without clear political leadership.

- What will this really mean for British business?
- How will the markets and sterling react?
- Will a hung parliament scare off international investors?
- Could the economy survive a second general election within a year?

How did the party leaders fare on Twitter?

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There was no undisputed winner, according to the snap polls which followed the second leaders’ debate in Bristol last night. The instant polls were split on who had won, with three saying LibDem leader Nick Clegg was the victor and another two placing the Conservatives’ David Cameron in first place.

“The three main party leaders were unable to land a knockout punch on their rivals,” said Reuters correspondent Peter Griffiths, reporting from Bristol yesterday.

Experience versus change, but who’s the REAL change?

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It’s fascinating to watch Labour and the Tories search around for a response to Lib Dem fever after years of ignoring the third party and being incredibly rude to Nick Clegg every time he stood up to speak in the House of Commons. No sooner would the Speaker call Clegg’s name at the weekly cock fight that is Prime Minister’s Questions than Labour and Tory MPs would fall about laughing. Well, for the time being, the joke is on them.

Keeping their eyes firmly on David Cameron, still the main threat to Labour despite the wave of Cleggmania sweeping the land, Labour staged a press conference about the economy yesterday morning — strangely, at the same venue where Clegg launched the Lib Dem manifesto last week. Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson and Alistair Darling came armed with a new campaign prop: a fake radio news bulletin dated June 25, offering an alarming scenario of what would be happening to Britain under a Conservative government.

Twitter learns to love the LibDems

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Our exclusive analysis of  political sentiment expressed on Twitter.com shows a surge in pro-LibDem tweets since Nick Clegg’s successful performance in the leaders’ debate on Thursday evening — mirroring the huge swing towards the party in the opinion polls.

U.S. marketing firm Crimson Hexagon is archiving all political tweets throughout the election for Reuters.co.uk and analysing them for positive and negative sentiment. The latest statistics show a dramatic spike in positive LibDem sentiment, sparked by Clegg’s universally praised performance during the televised debate, the first of its kind in British politics.

Clegg steps out of Cable’s shadow

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BRITAIN-ELECTION/Nick Clegg’s assured performance in last week’s leaders’ debate has helped him step out from the shadow of Vince Cable, so much so that he did not even need his finance spokesman during a trip to Cardiff on Monday.

The Liberal Democrats, so reliant on Cable’s well-publicised economic acumen during the past two years, has used him alongside Clegg for much of the campaign.

Was it the worm wot won it?

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My colleague Ross Chainey has blogged about how Nick Clegg emerged as the winner on most measures from last night’s TV debate. But there’s another battle going on in this election — that between traditional broadcast and new-fangled social media.

“In real terms last night was the triumph of broadcast media over digital media,” the head of digital at one of the parties told me this morning.

What did Twitter make of the leaders’ debate?

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History was made last night with Britain’s first televised political leaders’ debate, which was seen as an opportunity for Labour’s Gordon Brown, The Conservatives’ David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg to stamp their authority on an election campaign that has so far failed to generate much excitement.

Outsider Clegg was judged the clear winner by almost every snap poll followinged the ITV broadcast. Today a ComRes/ITV opinion poll of over 4,000 people who watched the programme has the Tories on 36 percent, LibDems on 35 percent and Labour on 24 percent — a 14 percent jump for Clegg’s  party.

Poll: Who do you think won the UK election debate?

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg made history tonight with the first live election debate on British TV.

Who won the debate?

    David Cameron Nick Clegg Gordon Brown No clear winner

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