Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Britain Calls It Mellow Yellow

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Britain Calls It Mellow Yellow

Article excerpt

Youth of today

According to the half-dozen or so polls that have been published since the weekend, the surge in support for the Liberal Democrats following the first televised leaders' debate is holding up. With several polls indicating that nearly one in three voters plan to support the third party, the election currently looks almost certain to result in a hung parliament. The Conservatives are going to find it very hard to win enough marginal seats from Nick Clegg's party to make the gains of 117 a majority would require.

Across the polls, support for the Conservatives seems to have been hit marginally harder than backing for Labour has. Over the weekend before the debate, the Tories were polling between 37 and 39 per cent--excluding the odd rogue poll, that has now dropped to between 31 and 33 per cent. Labour have seen a shift from around 30 per cent to 26 to 28 per cent.

The Lib Dems seem to be holding on to the vote share they achieved in 2005, and at the same time are attracting some of the former Labour supporters who had switched to David Cameron's Conservatives. In addition, the party has been picking up a lot of backing among 18-34-year-olds (see chart, below right). But this support is not necessarily to be relied upon: this group are less likely than any other demographic to be on the electoral register, and are much less likely to vote.

Clegg's factor

The first leaders' debate has been portrayed as a sort of political version of TV programmes such as Britain's Got Talent or The X Factor, with Nick Clegg cast as a Susan Boyle or a Jedward. A complete unknown until he made his dramatic appearance, so the narrative goes, his demeanour immediately chimed with voters looking for change. Instant polls taken on the night had him winning the debate by a distance, and his party's reputation has continued to soar. …

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