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Brown finishes 3rd in debates ahead of May 6 polls

Last updated on: April 30, 2010 13:06 IST

With less than a week to go for the May 6 polls in Britain, opposition Conservative leader David Cameron has emerged as the clear winner of the third and final live TV debate while embattled Premier Gordon Brown failed to enthuse viewers after a major gaffe calling an elderly woman a "bigot".

A week, they say, is a long time in politics, and electoral fortunes may well change. But if the series of opinion polls and television debates are any indication, the ruling Labour party is almost certain to lose after a record 13 years in power.

At the end of the Thursday debate, Brown anticipated Labour's loss by saying: "I know that if things stay as they are, perhaps in eight days' time David Cameron, perhaps supported by Nick Clegg, would be in office."

There is much talk of two outcomes: a clear Conservative victory or hung Parliament, in which the Liberal Democrats will play a major role, thanks to the surge in the popularity of its leader, Nick Clegg, after the first debate.

In the debate, Cameron came across as a sharper and clearer contender compared to the 'tired' Brown and youthful Clegg, who clearly struggled to respond to probing questions on his party's policies on immigration and taxation.

The main topic of the debate was economy and Brown, as expected, opened with the claim that he was the most experienced to deal with the economy, in good and bad times.

His position, however, was soon effectively countered by Cameron, who promised to do things differently and bring about real change while dealing with Britain's mounting national debt.

Brown urged voters not to risk change as he sought to salvage his Labour's election campaign after the debilitating embarrassment caused by him by calling an elderly pensioner a "bigoted woman."

Brown and Labour continued to finish third in most opinion polls.

Cameron alleged that Brown was trying to "scare" voters and claimed that the Conservative party could deliver the "change we need", while Clegg urged voters to "choose the future you really want".

Brown told the audience: "I don't like having to do this, but I have got to tell you that things are too important to be left to risky policies under these two people. They are not ready for government, because they have not thought through their policies."

In his closing statement, Cameron said: "If you vote Labour, you get more of the same. If you vote Liberal Democrat, it is uncertainty."

Only an outright Tory victory could deliver "a clean break, taking our country in the right direction and bringing the change we need", he said.

Clegg urged voters in his closing statement not to be frightened of voting for "something really different".

"This is your election, this is your country," he said, adding: "When you go to vote next week, choose the future you really want."
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