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Debate novelty wears thin

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Thank God it’s over! The magic was certainly gone in the last of the three TV debates. Or perhaps we have just become too accustomed to this particular reality show which just seemed unexciting after the excruciating embarrasment of watching Gordon Brown being forced to apologise to a pensioner after he was overheard calling her “bigoted”.

The economy was meant to be in focus. But we heard nothing from any of the three party leaders we have not heard before. Labour’s Gordon Brown asked the public to trust his judgement. He called it right in the banking crisis and the economy cannot withstand spending cuts right now.

Conservative David Cameron, voted winner in two separate polls, repeated his line that action had to be taken on the deficit now and raising National Insurance would hurt the economy. And the LibDem leader Nick Clegg repeatedly reminded us there was a third way.

But people have seen him non-stop for two weeks now and the seeming freshness that gave his performance a shine in the first debate was gone. The three clashed also on education and immigration but on the really big issue of how they would actually bring down a budget deficit running at over 11 percent of GDP — there was no more detail at all.

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.

Jokes wear thin at ill-tempered Labour event

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MandelsonLabour strategy chief Peter Mandelson berated the media at a press conference this morning for failing to focus on policy. Then he repeatedly side-stepped questions on the most important policy challenge of all: where are the tens of billions of pounds of spending cuts needed to halve the deficit going to come from?

Of course Labour are not alone in dodging that thorniest of questions. David Cameron keeps repeating that his Conservatives have gone “further than any opposition in history” in spelling out proposed spending cuts, starting with 6 billion pounds in unspecified “efficiency savings” this year. But his insistence cannot mask the fact that the Tories’ planned cuts, like Labour’s and indeed the Liberal Democrats’, add up to only a fraction of what is required.

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.

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.

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?

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