Cleggmania arrives in Norwich

Shaun LowthorpeShoppers had a firsthand taste of Cleggmania yesterday as man-of-the-moment Nick Clegg stopped off in Norwich with a call to voters to 'give real change a chance'.Shaun Lowthorpe

Shoppers had a firsthand taste of Cleggmania yesterday as man-of-the-moment Nick Clegg stopped off in Norwich with a call to voters to 'give real change a chance'.

The Lib Dem leader has been credited with shaking up the election campaign after his strong performance in the first televised leaders' debate last week.

Yesterday he was in the city to support the party's Norwich South candidate Simon Wright, who this week was installed as the bookies favourite to win the seat.

Arriving in the Lib Dem campaign bus after an earlier stop in Newcastle in the morning Mr Clegg was cheered by a large crowd of waiting activists and supporters as well as healthy sprinkling of curious shoppers in the Morrisons car park as the media circus made its way to the fish counter and a chat with staff about their training.

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Mr Clegg said he had been inspired by the surge in interest among younger voters and the surge in numbers of people registering to vote, who he hoped would support his party.

'I think the message has become clear that the old two party politics of the past has gone - it's gone,' Mr Clegg said. 'Here in Norwich and up and down the country more and more people are telling us they think they've been let down.

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'We should be putting hope before fear and we shouldn't be fooling people in to thinking it can't be different this time. It can happen, it will happen, together we can make it happen.

'Do not be told by the old parties that you can't do any different,' Mr Clegg added. 'Give real change a chance this time!'

Mr Clegg, who was also joined by North Norfolk candidate Norman Lamb, said the Lib Dems would offer a fairer deal on taxes and also clean up politics.

'No party is blemish free but when I put forward a plan to Gordon Brown and David Cameron to clean up party funding once and for all they blocked it,' he added.

He also brushed off national newspaper attacks on his character and his expenses joking that in the past week he had noticed on the microblogging site Twitter that he was 'now held responsible for anything that's gone wrong ever' including the Icelandic volcano and the state of the sand on the beaches of Brighton.

On local issues for Norfolk Mr Clegg said his party was also 'absolutely' committed to the dualling of the A11 and would work to protect communities at risk of coastal erosion.

'I know Simon Wright and Norman Lamb have been campaigning in favour of dualling the A11 and I think that's quite right, because that's a key road's project that's justified.'

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