The UK’s three main political party leaders have locked horns in an historic TV debate. The trio clashed on issues including the economy, crime and immigration. Despite insisting his party was the only real alternative, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg called for unity.
‘‘I would say it’s worth the politicians just setting aside their political differences for once and trying to come up with a solution that everyone can agree with. We’ve all got different ideas, we’ve got proposals, that there is a contribution from the individual and the state. David Cameron has ideas which help some, but doesn’t help people in their homes. Gordon Brown has some ideas which help some of the most needy, but not others. Why don’t we, for once, given this is something which is bigger than any other party, actually work together,’‘ Clegg said.
On the economy, Conservative leader David Cameron attacked the Labour government’s tax plans.
‘‘If you put a tax on jobs, that I think is a jobs killer, it’s a recovery killer, it’s an economy killer. So I think that we’ve got to remove this dark cloud of a deficit over our economy, and it makes sense to make a start on that now. Make a start this year, to avoid the tax next year and then we can go forward with further plans to remove our deficit and our debt,’‘ Cameron argued.
But, current Prime Minister Gordon Brown hit back. He insisted Tory plans to cut spending would threaten any recovery.
‘‘The risk to the economy is this year, and every country, America, the rest of Europe, including Britain is saying we’ve got to make sure we invest in the economy this year so that we can have the growth we need. Now pull out the money, and you’ve proposed it at every point during this recession, pull out the money and you’ll have less growth and you’ll have less jobs and you’ll have less businesses. Now that’s a fear, we’ve got to take an overall responsibility for the whole economy,’‘ Brown said.
Most polls and pundits judged Clegg the winner.
The debate, one of three before the May 6 election, is the first in UK electoral history and is being seen as marking an new era in British politics.