Monday, 26 April 2010

Leader's Clash in Election Debate

By Ben Aulakh

The leaders of the three main party’s squared off against each other again on Thursday night in the second televised leader’s debate.

Broadcast live on Sky News – and presented by the channel’s political editor Adam Boulton – the debate focussed for the first time on issues around Foreign Affairs.

All three leaders gave their opening statements before answering and debating questions from the audience and Sky News viewers.

The first significant attack of the evening came from David Cameron in response to a question from the audience on what each was prepared to do to limit interference from the European Union.

Mr Cameron criticised the government for “letting too many powers go”, stating his belief that Westminster needed to “take them back”, and “be in Europe, not run by it.”

The Prime Minister promptly responded by saying how much in his opinion the UK “needs Europe”, stating that “three million jobs, half of the country’s trade and 750, 000 businesses trade with the EU and depend on it.”

Nick Clegg asserted his belief that working in partnership with the EU, “we are stronger together, and weaker apart.”

The Liberal Democrat leader also made clear his position that “there are a lot of things that we simply cannot do on our own”, without EU support and backing.

Mr Clegg also stated that in negotiations he had been part of while working at the European Parliament, “China and Russia only listened because we – the EU – stood together, and that this allowed the UK to “punch above our weight.”



The most stinging criticism off the evening came from the Prime Minister, in a broadside launched at both opponents he said that “Nick Clegg is anti-American, David Cameron is anti-European, and both are out of touch with reality.”

On the matter of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Mr Clegg said that he had “in principle supported the war in Afghanistan, accepting that it is a “haven for terrorists.”

He added that, “If we do it again we should start things right, and not send the army into harms way without the proper equipment and co-ordination.” He also described the war in Iraq as “illegal.”

Mr Cameron called for “an end to the division” in defence policy; he also said that “A political settlement is needed to allow the troops to come home.”

Mr Brown concentrated on making the link between Afghanistan being a haven for terrorism and Al-Qaeda activity in Somalia in Yemen.

He also promised a defence review in the next parliament and promised to “do everything in my power to protect Britain.

Since the debate aired the gap between the parties has narrowed, with an average of the polls placing the Conservatives on 33, the Lib Dems on 30 and Labour on 28.

The third and final debate – which will be live on BBC 1 and presented by Question Time host David Dimbleby – will air on Thursday March 29 and will focus on the economy.

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