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The first ever televised United Kingdom prime ministerial debate was held on 15 April 2010 and it featured a strong performance from Nick Clegg, and resulted in an unprecedented surge in support for the Liberal Democrats, nicknamed Cleggmania by the press. What would have happened if Clegg had continued to dominate the two remaining debates, as well as maintain strong ratings in the polls? This timeline explores the possibility of a minority Liberal Democrat government - the first since the 1920s - if the election was cast on 1 May 2010.

Points of Divergence

On 7 June 2008, the European Union asked its member states to all consider using alternative vote or D'Hondt. The United Kingdom's elections are now held under the alternative voting system thanks to a House of Commons vote in favour, supported by Labour (in a bid to win back voters) and the Lib Dems.

On 15 April 2010, domestic policy was the key theme of the first ever televised prime ministerial debate. In instant polling after the event Nick Clegg was judged the clear winner. This debate caused a large, immediate, and unexpected impact on opinion polls in favour of the Liberal Democrats.

In the second debate on international affairs, Clegg once again came out best in the instant polls with David Cameron very closely behind. Clegg, having received such a surge after the first debate, was judged to have fended off the Labour Party and Conservative Party attacks successfully. Gordon Brown was judged to have drastically improved his performance, and David Cameron was judged to have overcome the nerves that commentators believed affected him in the first debate.

On 29 April, the third debate was dominated by Nick Clegg. At the end of the debating night, the Liberal Democrats had gained a 6% lead over the Conservatives and a 11% lead over the Labour Party.

On 1 May 2010, the country went to the polls.

Party Votes Seats
Liberal Democrats 8206043 226
Conservatives 6912739 191
Labour 5429387 150
Green 719471 19
UKIP 491386 13
SNP 265243 7
Sinn Fein 264321 7
BNP 171942 4
Democratic Unionist 168216 4
Plaid Cymru 165394 4
Social Democratic Labour 127187 3
English Democrats 120970 3

Coalition talks amongst the major parties failed, so as the largest party in the House, the Liberal Democrats formed a new government.

Party events

  • 11 May 2010 - Gordon Brown resigns as Leader of the Labour Party due to his loss.
  • 3 July 2010 - David Cameron resigns as Leader of the Conservative Party due to his loss.
  • 25 September 2010 - David Miliband is elected Leader of the Labour Party.
  • 17 October 2010 - Theresa May is elected Leader of the Conservative Party.

National events

International events

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