Second U.K. Prime Minister Debate Yields Two-Way Draw

Pundits say Brown is out, leaving Cameron and Clegg

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Three candidates for U.K. Prime Minister debated live on television Thursday night, only the second such debate in British history. Incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, David Cameron of the Conservative Party, and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats discussed defense, immigration, the banking system, and one another. After their first debate, dark horse candidate Clegg shot into the spotlight. A final, third debate remains before the May 6 general election. Pundits and observers seem to think that Brown fared poorly in this debate. Here's what they're saying.

  • Clegg: The Obama Candidate  The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan declares, "I have to say that Clegg is winning this debate, with all the possible consequences that might bring. ... Clegg grasps the change mantle, the Obama message, in a restive and anti-political country. In that sense, I think he won this. And I would not be surprised to see his party emerge - historically - as the leader in this race."
  • Brown on Offensive, to No Avail  CNN's Richard Allen Greene writes, "Gordon Brown went on the offensive against the two men hoping to replace him as prime minister at a debate Thursday, but it seems to have done him little good. ... Brown unleashed particularly sharp words at Clegg, who had shot up in the polls after being widely judged the best performer in last week's opening debate." Snap polls after the debate showed either Cameron or Clegg in the lead.
  • Now It's Cameron vs. Clegg  The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland calls it. He says of Labour, "A government in power for 13 years cannot hope to win an election that is now all about change." But Freedland pours cold water on the "Cleggmania" that's gripped the media. "Inevitably the Lib Dem's novelty value is fading, allowing Cameron to reassert himself as the agent of change."
  • So Close, Hung Parliament Likely  Deutsche-Welle's Catherine Bolsover warns that polls are "increasingly suggesting the likelihood of a hung parliament after May 6 elections, meaning centrist Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg may hold the key to forming a new government." Because the three-way race is so close, no one party may secure enough of Parliament to form a governing coalition, meaning that the largest party would have the daunting task of bringing everyone together.
  • All Agree on Threat of Climate Change  Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias notes, "it was interesting that a few times the idea that climate change is the most important challenge the world faces was tossed off and treated as an uncontroversial assertion. In the US, it’s been taking a back seat in the Senate to health care, financial regulation, and maybe immigration."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.