Leaders prepare for crucial second debate

By Aled Thomas

Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are preparing for the second televised leaders’ debate.

Last week’s historic first ever televised debate between prime ministerial contenders has had a seismic effect on British politics.

In the short-term it has shaken this election up, pushing the ‘third party’ Liberal Democrats into the spotlight and putting them second, and sometimes even first, in the opinion polls.

All three party leaders are spending much of today ‘prepping’, practising their answers and anticipating attacks from their opponents on foreign policy and defence, the topic of tonight’s debate on Sky News, hosted by Adam Boulton.

None more so than Nick Clegg; the outsider has come charging up on the rails since last week’s domestic debate on ITV.

And the Lib Dems’ foreign and defence policies are bound to come under great scrutiny by the other leaders.

The party is the only one to say it will scrap the replacement for Trident missiles, saying it will save £100 billion; it has been critical of the conduct of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, although it has not yet said it will withdraw troops.

The Lib Dems are also the most Europhile of the parties. Former MEP Mr Clegg will no doubt be attacked for his conduct in taking donations personally and also his party’s pro-euro stance.

Earlier this morning Conservative leader David Cameron was out jogging and said on the debates to the BBC: “Everyone was nervous last time. But being direct with people and answering their questions is what it’s all about, just forget the hype.”

Asked if he would change his style, he said: “I am what I am and I believe what I believe.”

The debate will be broadcast in high definition on Sky News at 8pm tonight.