A HUDDERSFIELD academic believes Europe could be Nick Clegg’s Achilles’ heel in tonight’s election debate.
Dr Pete Woodcock thinks the Lib Dem chief could be targeted over his enthusiasm for the European Union when party leaders clash for the second time in Bristol this evening.
The University of Huddersfield lecturer said: “The Lib Dems have a pro-European agenda while the majority of the population is Euro-sceptic. It will be interesting to see what happens.”
The pressure will be on the Lib Dem leader in tonight’s debate on foreign policy after opinion polls showed he won the first contest last Thursday.
Dr Woodcock said: “After Nick Clegg’s resounding victory at the last debate, I think Gordon Brown and David Cameron will be thinking about how to attack him.
“It’s possible that Nick Clegg did so well in the first debate because a lot of voters weren’t aware of him. Can he carry this through when more is expected of him?”
Dr Woodcock believes the Labour leader will be looking for another steady performance in tonight’s 90-minute debate.
He said: “Gordon Brown will want to continue not saying anything awful. He wouldn’t be too unhappy with a repeat of the first debate performance.”
But Dr Woodcock added that the Prime Minister could come under pressure over Afghanistan and Iraq.
He said: “There are two bear-traps for Gordon Brown. He was at the centre of decision-making over Iraq and he has been criticised for the equipment given to troops in Afghanistan.”
Dr Woodcock said Conservative leader David Cameron had to improve on his performance in the first debate, when most polls showed him coming in second.
The academic said: “David Cameron needs to come across as the key focus of discontent with the Government, which he wasn’t in the first debate. He needs to get at Nick Clegg.”
Last Thursday’s debate on domestic policy in Manchester attracted 9.4m viewers. Dr Woodcock thinks tonight’s debate on Sky News at 8pm may struggle to match those figures.
He said: “It won’t have the novelty of the first debate. Also, not everyone has Sky News.”