Interesting times to be a Liberal Democrat.
One feature of the campaign that is only slowly being picked up is that the contest is shifting from the old battlefield of newspaper columns to the new battlefield of the new media: not just blogs, but Facebook and the rest of it. This is undermining a key advantage for both Labour and the Conservatives: the influence of the press. At the last election only The Independent was prepared to endorse the Liberal Democrats, while all the others endorsed to other two parties. That position seems set to be repeated. The Conservatives will gain the support of the Murdoch media, and doubtless hang on to the motley crew of the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. Labour will keep the Daily Mirror and The Guardian. None of it may make any difference.
The fact is that the old system of newspapers endorsing political parties (and often gaining knighthoods and peerages for their editors) smacks of 19th century patronage. This election has been about the dis-intermediation of politics. Where television in the 1960s impacted the political process, now it is the new media. Here, the Liberal Democrats have been fighting a highly successful insurgent campaign on such sites as Facebook- and in cyberspace you don't need to spend money on expensive newspaper and poster advertising. The money gap that benefits the Tories and Labour alike is not an issue in the new media.
I might have though that the Conservatives could have fought more effectively, after all their bloggers, such as Iain Dale, have been the market leaders over several years. Yet bloggers seem to be largely middle aged- hmm hmm- men. Twitter and Facebook is younger and more diverse. It is therefore not just the debates that have driven the surge of Lib Dem support: it is also the campaign that is being fought in cyberspace.
I don't know that the Internet campaign will be decisive, but I do think that the 2010 campaign is being more evenly fought as well as more open, as the result of these innovations. The newspapers are seeing a further nail in their coffin being hammered in by this campaign.