The British Debate: 6 Standout Moments
Thursday evening, for the first time in its history, Britain held a televised, American-style debate among candidates for prime minister. WATCH VIDEO of the most memorable moments.
Britain’s Immigration System in “Complete Chaos”
In one of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg’s many shining moments, he slammed both Gordon Brown and David Cameron for their approach to immigration. “We’ve had both major parties running government for the past 20 years talking tough about immigration, and delivering complete chaos in the way in which it’s run,” Clegg said. “I just want a fair, workable immigration system.”
Gordon Brown’s Interest in Voter Reform a “Ploy”
When in doubt, blame the incumbent—this seemed to be Conservative leader David Cameron’s strategy, anyway. During a discussion about government reform, the baby-faced frontrunner accused Brown of feigning interest in change, in a shameless attempt to steal votes. “Gordon, you’ve had 13 years to sort out the House of Lords,” Cameron argued. “To suddenly now talk about electoral reform, about changing the voting system, which you started doing just weeks before the general election… I think people will see that as a bit of a ploy.”
Brown: Why We’re in Afghanistan
While Clegg won raves for his passionate oratorical style, incumbent prime minister Gordon Brown held his own, performing better than predicted. “Few British political observers thought [Brown] could stand next to the handsome young Conservative Party leader David Cameron and come away looking good,” wrote The Daily Beast’s Paul Begala. “But he did. By exceeding expectations, Brown pulled off an upset.” During a discussion of Britain’s fight against terror, Brown fired off an impassioned speech about the importance of British military in Afghanistan.
“Massage Room” for Education Board?
During a heated discussion of Britain’s struggling schools, Cameron warned the audience that not all of the public’s money was helping school-age children. He gave a vivid example: The country’s department of education recently installed a “contemplation room” and “massage room” in its building. Hmm.
Sparks Fly Over Britain’s Economy
When it came to the economy, the candidates played the blame game. First, Clegg accused his rivals of lying, arguing that “neither of them will come clean” on Britain’s poor financial state. Then, Cameron blasted the incumbent: “I think people at home watching will find it extraordinary that Gordon Brown is really saying that you’ve got to go on wasting money to keep the economy going.”
Cameron: More People Die From Cancer in Britain Than Bulgaria
During a colorful conversation about Britain’s health-care system, Cameron blamed the current prime minister for its shortcomings. “What Gordon Brown is not telling you about the situation with cancer is that…after all the things he’s talked about, all the money that’s gone in, our death rate from cancer is actually worse than Bulgaria’s.” He went on to describe constituents who died of the disease.
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