Accessibility links

UK Conservative Gets Boost After Final Televised Debate


Early opinion polls put Conservative David Cameron in lead with between 35 and 41 percent of vote

The leaders of Britain's top political parties have concluded the last of three live televised debates before the upcoming general election. With less than one week to go before voters head to the ballot boxes, analysts say there is still no clear winning party but early opinion polls after Thursday's debate put Conservative David Cameron in the lead with between 35 and 41 percent of the vote.

Seven-and-a-half million people watched the TV debate, which focused on Britain's economy. The three main candidates, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Conservative leader David Cameron, met in Birmingham.

Prime Minister Brown said he was the only man able to get Britain's finances back on track.

"Things are too important to be left to risky policies under these two people. We are desperate to get this country through the recession and into recovery and that is what I intend to continue to do," said Mr. Brown.

Prime Minister Brown leads the Labor party, which used to be headed by Tony Blair and has held power for 13 years.

But the party's popularity has dropped, in part because of a big financial deficit.

The televised leader debates - the first in British election history – haven't helped. In most of the snap polls taken after this week's debate, the prime minister came in third. The Conservatives topped most of the polls, with the Liberal Democrats coming in second.

Conservative leader David Cameron didn't show any mercy.

"What you're hearing is very desperate stuff from someone who's in a desperate state," Cameron said.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg repeated the message that has seen his party soar in opinion polls during this campaign - that his is the party of change.

"If you believe, like I do, that we can do things differently this time then together we really change Britain," said Clegg.

Lawrence Black from Britain's Durham University says there are differences between the party's economic policies.

The Conservatives, he says, want to make cuts in spending right away.

"Their concern, as Cameron expresses it, is that Britain ends up like Greece or rather more likely like Portugal and Spain, with it's credit rating cut, if it's not seen to start cutting straight away," Black said. "But what that's going to mean is cuts in schools, police, hospitals, etcetera and probably an increase in individual taxation."

Prime Minister Brown, on the other hand, thinks cuts in spending should be held off until the economy has made a stronger recovery – he says if cuts are made now, the recession will only deepen.

On Friday a think tank, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said none of the three parties have been honest about the measures needed to deal with Britain's debt. It said spending cuts won't save Britain from further recession and tax hikes will be needed.

With the final TV debate now over and only six days before the election, all three leaders are now in the last leg of their campaigns.

Black says the prospect of a hung parliament – in which no party has a majority of seats – still seems likely.

Nick Clegg has said a hung parliament would be a good thing for Britain – and Black says British voters may feel the same.

"We could of course conclude from that, that that's actually what people want and that they're sort of buying Nick Clegg's line from the Liberal Democrats that what this economic crisis needs is a sort of government of all the talent – politicians working together, not working in a sort of partisan way against each other," says Black.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in Britain campaigning for the Labor party. The election is due to take place on May 6th.

XS
SM
MD
LG