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Top marks to Starmer for rising above Sunak’s ‘head boy’ hectoring

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Wednesday 05 June 2024 17:55 BST
Even in the face of a false ‘tax bombshell’ claim, Keir Starmer proved infinitely more mature than Rishi Sunak
Even in the face of a false ‘tax bombshell’ claim, Keir Starmer proved infinitely more mature than Rishi Sunak (Getty)

I was baffled to see a narrow majority consider that Rishi Sunak “won” the first televised debate ("Sunak or Starmer: Who won the first general election TV debate?”, Wednesday 5 June).

Since I first watched Sunak in the televised debates of the 2019 election – when he was more or less unknown to the electorate, but stood in for Boris Johnson, who had refused to take part – I have classified him as a typical overgrown schoolboy, prepared to do anything to please his headmaster in his plan to become head boy.

His deplorable tactic in Tuesday’s contest was to repeatedly throw a false tax claim at Keir Starmer, knowing that it would stick with some voters.

Under such time pressures, it would be hard to counter such a mendacious taunt, but much was demonstrated by Starmer’s facial expressions. I thought his words were infinitely more mature than Sunak’s hectoring.

As a voter whose priorities centre on the environment and animal welfare, I have long since given up on any debate giving these matters the slightest attention, despite the fact they have visceral resonance with the public. However, I still watch the debates with close attention, and I sometimes wish they were not quite so truncated and shallow.

Often, a point was well made when the speaker was stopped sharply and the matter left hanging in the air.

Penny Little

Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

Nothing to see here

What an extraordinarily unenlightening television debate, between two party leaders who were both more keen to criticise each other than to give any clear answers.

Christine Oram

Hove, East Sussex

This election has a PR problem

Given they have both pulled out of this Friday’s seven-way TV debate, I wonder how much Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak respect the one in four people who cast a vote in the last general election, but not for either Labour or Conservative.

In reality, one in three didn’t even bother to vote, meaning half of the voting population support neither of the two big parties. Would proportional representation give these people a voice and end the two-party system?

Kartar Uppal

Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

The Farage effect

Nigel Farage wishes to take over the Tory party… and I wish him every success ("Farage sets out plan for ‘reverse takeover’ of Conservative Party", Tuesday 4 June).

A multiple failure who claims the support of millions can, according to recent opinion, lead his party to win one seat, and possibly as many as four? That does not form governments.

Presently, he and Reform UK are splitting the right-wing vote to great effect. All other parties must be delighted. The Tories are clearly fractured, and Farage damages them even more by poaching their support. If Farage succeeds in his takeover bid, it will take more than knocking out a few dents here and there – the Conservative Party is a wreck.

Farage is a one-trick pony in a party obsessed with one issue – immigration – and a serious threat only to his own.

David Nelmes

Caerleon, Newport

Counting county lines

Thank you so much for explaining that 1,000 square miles is smaller than Dorset (“The thousand-year-old mystery of the giant snake found in drawings across the world”, Wednesday, 5 June).

I will try to work it into everyday conversation at every opportunity.

Andy Powrie

London E14

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