UK prepares for historic TV debate
Britain's party leaders made last-minute preparations for a first ever live pre-election television debate yesterday, ahead of knife-edge May 6 polls.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party faced Conservative leader David Cameron and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, the third-biggest party, in a debate Thursday evening which ushers in a new era in British politics.
Each was seeking an advantage in the debate on domestic policy, although Britain's first foray into leaders' TV debates was governed by 76 rules hammered out in painstaking negotiations between broadcasters and the parties.
The candidates were anxiously preparing in Manchester, northwest England, for a debate expected to attract 20 million viewers, comparable with the audience for a major England World Cup football match.
Cameron, the media-friendly 43-year-old seeking to topple Brown and take the Conservatives back to power after 13 years of Labour dominance, has expressed concern that the strict rules could lead to a stilted debate.
But as he visited a charity centre in Yorkshire hours ahead of the television appearance, Cameron said the live showdown was a "great opportunity".