Clegg is 'going for gold' in race against Tories
Published 01/05/2010 | 05:00
nick Clegg declared yesterday that the Liberal Democrats were "going for gold" in the British general election.
The private reality is that they are aiming for silver next Thursday, banking that coming second behind the Tories would trigger lasting change.
Strategists insist the Liberal Democrats' surge to around 30pc in the polls after the first televised leaders' debate, 16 days ago, has been maintained.
Where they were once preparing for a defensive strategy in the final week of the campaign, Mr Clegg will now go on the attack, trying to squeeze the Labour vote.
In an effort to counter accusations that a Liberal Democrat vote is wasted, the party's MPs will remorselessly repeat the message that the election is a "two-horse race", between them and the Tories.
Senior Liberal Democrats maintain Labour and Tory attacks on the party's immigration policies will have little impact in the seats -- many in multicultural cities -- that the party is targeting.
They acknowledge, however, that speculation over how Mr Clegg would act in a hung parliament probably turned off voters. But they insist it was better to get the issue out of the way well before polling day.
The Liberal Democrats believe they have a potential secret weapon in the number of students and young adults who have registered to vote since the first debate.
It was no coincidence that Mr Clegg chose to address an open-air student rally at De Montfort University, Leicester, on the morning after the final debate. Mr Clegg told the largest crowd of his campaign: "We have a huge opportunity to change things for good."
He said his party was offering "real change, not fake change", and appealed to his audience to throw out the "two old parties (that think) it's their birthright to govern your country".