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PM debate: What are the key foreign issues?

16:02 UK time, Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The second prime ministerial debate takes place on Thursday and it will focus on foreign affairs. What issues need to be discussed?

In the first debate last Thursday, David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg clashed over issues including spending cuts, tax and political reform. And Clegg was widely acclaimed as the main beneficiary, with subsequent opinion polls suggesting a rise in popularity for the Liberal Democrats.

ITV1 broadcast last week's show from Manchester. Sky News will broadcast the second debate at 8pm from Bristol (also available to watch on the BBC News Channel/BBC News website and to listen to on BBC Radio 4) while the BBC will host the third debate next Thursday.

Will you watch the debate? What do you want the three party leaders to discuss? Who do you think will come out on top?

Tell us what questions you would like to see the leaders answer in the BBC's prime ministerial debate. Or if would you like to be part of a BBC panel discussing the debate itself, let us know.

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Comments

Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    The most important issue that needs to be discussed is when can our troops come home from Afghanistan? What is their mission & when will they know it has been completed. Our brave troops have been used & abused by this government & need to get back to doing the job they signed up for THE DEFENCE OF OUR COUNTRY, not shoring up a US pawn in the US mission for world oil domination. If the leaders insist that our troops stay in Afghanistan will they ensure that they're properly equipped? Would any of the leaders be happy if their offspring were in the armed forces or would they pull all the strings at their disposal to ensure their little darlings don't get deployed there?

  • Comment number 2.

    Europe:
    • Get Britain out of the E.U. Legislature and confine our participation with Europe solely to free market business - no referendum is required - this has to be a Primary Objective!
    • While this is being actioned, instigate a pan-European member investigation into the salaries, expenses and gifts enjoyed by MEP’s, Officials and the EU’s senior civil servants over the last decade. At the same time, persuade every member country into demanding a fully and exhaustively audited set of accounts detailing all home and overseas EU expenditure over the last five years with a reconciliation including detailed income received from every source.
    • Repeal all European legislation applied to Britain without regard to our Constitution, our businesses or social needs, and without a referendum available to our people - in line with a democratic survey of our Parliamentary representatives without influence from the Whips.
    • Dismiss, without pensions, all UK Civil Servants whose ineptitude, bias or malice caused simple E.U. directives to be translated into instruments with rules and penalties far in excess of the original Brussels legislation.

  • Comment number 3.

    Getting out of the EU.
    Stop being America's poodle.
    Cut back foreign aid.
    Putting British Jobs before the jobs of foreigners.
    Withdrawing from NATO.

  • Comment number 4.

    CUT OVERSEAS MILITARY OPERATIONS

    It seems to me that we spend far too much on foreign military campaigns and adventures with extremely limited benefit to UKplc. Our politicians blithely appear to send our armed forces off to fight an assumed ‘enemy’ in territories thousands of miles from our shores with little to no previous consultation with our military chiefs, free-vote Parliamentary debate or agreement from the taxpayer. Most of these conflicts also appear to have no tangible planned outcome.

    Our sorties overseas can be broadly divided into three main campaign types:

    Direct Threats to UK Sovereignty: The only example of this that comes to mind was the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands where our British territory was occupied by a foreign force. This act of war was instigated by a corrupt South American government intent on diverting their population’s attention away from domestic problems and civil unrest. Mrs Thatcher’s government - and our excellent troops - dealt with it admirably.

    Dubious Actions in Support of Friends and Political Allies: The Iraq war is an ignominious example of two high profile political leaders committing our joint forces into a conflict that was ill-advised, under-researched, had no physically proven threat to our shores and had, now very apparent, little to no planning as to how we would cope with the aftermath. Nor have we ended up with any tangible benefits – like direct access to future oil and gas supplies – but every middle eastern terrorist group has now heavily underlined the UK on its list of targets!.

    Support of UN and NATO Objectives: We have continually supplied troops and equipment in support of ‘peacekeeping’ roles for both these organisations. The UN, being totally bereft of military personnel and hardware, gets its peacekeeping troops from Member States and the costs of a campaign are drawn from a levy on Member States (often received years in arrears) and the taxpayers of the country supplying the troops. Britain appears to be an amazingly soft touch among EEC member countries when the UN crooks its finger. Similarly, Britain always seems at the forefront of NATO expeditionary forces while our European allies shy away from all but the least dangerous of missions. Again, it’s the UK’s public purse that pays the bills for our continual rush to become involved.

  • Comment number 5.

    Foreign Policy: please let us disentangle ourselves from foreign adventures.

  • Comment number 6.

    One word: Afghanistan

  • Comment number 7.

    Debate about Afghanistan?? Probably above their paygrade

  • Comment number 8.

    Europe will undoubtedly be the big one on the agenda. Clegg's pro and proud, Cameron's anti(ish) and Brown obstinately refuses to say but seems to be very much in favour.

    Other thorny ones are obviously Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan. Should be interesting to see if anyone will get off the fence over isreal/palastine (I'm guessing they won't and plump for the nice safe 'pursuing a two state solution' - as if that's ever going to happen without foriegn intervention).


    Then you've got the tricky little ones like foreign aid, climate deals, international banking reform. Where I think differences of opinion could cause real fireworks as answers may not be quite so rehearsed.

    Bring it on!

  • Comment number 9.

    Simple - who will pledge never to commit British troops to die for oil in the next illegal war?

  • Comment number 10.

    They need to discuss :

    - The removal of foreign aid for those countries that have a space programme e.g. India

    - The immediate need for the EU to be audited properly and have the books signed off by an independant firm - otherwise we leave the EU

    - our withdrawal from Afghanistan

    - The charging of Blair with war crimes

    - A programme to increase our own food production to reduce our reliance on imported goods

  • Comment number 11.

    I think its going to be a strong debate for Clegg. He has the Iraq card up his sleeve and I think the fact that his party want to get rid of Trident, will play well with viewers.

    What I'll be looking for is a party that has a clear exit strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan. I'd also like the leaders to state what Britain's global role will be over the next five years. I think it is perhaps time to take a back seat and focus on our domestic problems.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think that Nick Clegg & liberal Democrats policy for Trident needs to be expanded upon, as it is basically about foreign affairs and perceived or non-perceived foreign threats to our nation either in the short term or long term.

    I used to think that we were turning into a little USA, but now I think we are turning more into a little Italy, so maybe we should look more closely at what to expect in the future with discussions about Italy and all thats wrong with it and do we really want to go there as a nation.

  • Comment number 13.

    I would ask Cameron and Brown how I can expect to trust their judgement on foreign policy when they both supported an illegal invasion of another country. Only the Lib Dems got this one right.

  • Comment number 14.

    1. What is the truth of the situation in Iran and what should the UK's position on that be?
    2. Is the nuclear disarmament proposed by US and Russia the prelude to wider world disarmement programmes and if so, at what point should Britain join the process?
    3. Do the leaders think the potential for major reform of the EU exists to increase democracy and accountability and, if not, what should the UK's response to that be?
    4. How do the leaders see the transatlantic alliance changing, if at all, through this Presidency and the next?
    5. How many parts of the world traditionally recipients of British Aid are now financially able to look after their own issues? Is a refocussing of need where aid is concerned necessary?
    6. Do the leaders see the UK's long-term global alliances being dominated by Europe or other major partnerships?
    7. How do the leaders see our relationship with Russia and is that a matter for pride, optimism or concern?
    8. Will the leaders pass a law prohibiting going to war without detailed debate in Parliament in future?
    9. What benefits, if any, will accrue from our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan?
    10. How will you ensure that the strategic defence position reached after rewiew is based on military reality and not political hotch-potch?
    11. How can we maximise our influence in the Commonwealth to increase trade?
    12. Will China become a kind great power, a trading tyranny or collapse due to uncontrolled population expansion?

  • Comment number 15.

    Given that overseas aid is now running at about £7 billion.

    How can the major parties ask the UK economy to pay £6 billion extra in NI to pay for it?

  • Comment number 16.

    Someone should tell them there are more important things to get sorted out here first!

  • Comment number 17.

    1)Why are we disbanding our navy?
    2)Are the "elites" signed up to a secret agrement to create clobal commune?
    3)Why are legitimate concerns regarding the collapse of our military, industrial and scientific base ignored or vilified?
    4)Why are we paralised by fear both internally and externally (a perfect example being the reaction to the "cloud")?
    5)Are we disarming?
    6)If we are - why?

  • Comment number 18.

    With the growing shift in economic power from west to east what implications does this have for the UK's relationship with the USA?

  • Comment number 19.

    The most important question on foreign affairs must be the whole illegal immigration issue. Next is the way in which overseas aid has been liberally distributed to all & sundry just to appear a major player in world affairs despite the fact that we as a nation are broke.

  • Comment number 20.

    Of course they'll promise everything people want in the debates, whether they can be trusted to keep their word when their in power is a different matter.

    I wouldn't trust any media-sponsored politician allowed in these debates. The only reason they get to be in the debates is because they're complicit with the european agenda.

    The whole reason the lib dems are getting big media push they are, is because everyone is vying for an alternative option, and the lib dems are putting on the show of looking isolated from the other two. It's just a good-cop bad-cop routine.

    If they allowed other parties in the debates, then you would see a real contrast, and Nick Clegg wouldn't have moved in their opinion polls.


    I think these other parties should have their own internet-broadcast debate, and exclude the "three propaganda parties".

  • Comment number 21.

    1. Uncontrolled immigration

    2. Illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

  • Comment number 22.

    We were taken into Europe on a lie (by Ted Heath and Geoffrey Rippon). Britain is not another Continental European country and for centuries our history has been defined on maintaining stability and a balance of power between the major European States. Our legal system is based on the principle of defining what people cannot do, wheres that of the European powers has been based on telling their people what they can do. Therefore, the incorporation of the European Human Rights Act into English law (by Blair) was a fundamental error and has created for this country a series of major difficulties. Therefore, we must undertake a fundamental review and re-negotiation of our relationship with the EU Super State. Even our respective definitions of 'Human Rights' are different. Given our radically different histories, our relationship with the EU has to be re-negotiated or we should leave and find our future elsewhere.

  • Comment number 23.

    If we cannot have a referendum on our membership of the EU could the 3 Party contenders explain how we are going to be able to control our borders and immigration if policy is to be controlled by the EU and Turkey and other countries join, all with populations who would want to come to the UK? Why did the govt fail to consider the consequences of EU diktat of open borders within the EU for the UK? could the leaders explain why the Queen had to sign the Lisbon treaty when we, her subjects were not allowed a referendum? I am all for links with the EU but not abnegation of our own sovreignity over Foreign Policy ,Legal issues and Domestic affairs which are at present increasingly subject to EU diktat which takes no account of our people already in the UK

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Toad In The Hole wrote:

    Getting out of the EU.
    Stop being America's poodle.
    Cut back foreign aid.
    Putting British Jobs before the jobs of foreigners.
    Withdrawing from NATO.


    How about blowing up the Channel Tunnel and stopping people going on holiday to, or working in, all those foreign countries where they don't even speak English. Jonny foreign doesn't deserve our money!! :)

  • Comment number 26.

    The top of the agenda must be Afghanistan. When are the troops pulling out?
    Lets wash our hands of the middle East. If they want to live in the middle ages let them. We buy their oil, nothing else.
    While we're at it will any of our prospective leaders tell Israel to take a run and jump?
    Will any of them stop being a lapdog for USA?
    Will any of them get the corruption in the European Parliament system sorted out and get rid of the European Commission?

  • Comment number 27.

    What key foreign issues need to be discussed?

    EUROPE, BENEFITS, PRODUCTIVE JOBS.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    How soon can we sever all foreign policy ties with the USA with its unacceptable attitude to the world's oil reserves and blind pro-Israel stance?

  • Comment number 30.

    I would ask them whether since we are experiencing in this country terrorist plots originating in Pakistan which are apparently conducted without proper hindrance by the Pakistani authorities if they view this country as being in a de facto state of war with Pakistan.

  • Comment number 31.

    5. At 7:14pm on 21 Apr 2010, ian cheese wrote:
    Foreign Policy: please let us disentangle ourselves from foreign adventures.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Great idea! What if a foreign country retangles our foreign adventures due to no fault of our own?

  • Comment number 32.

    Why were David Miliband and Gordon Brown outraged that alleged Israeli war criminals like Tzipi Livni had UK arrest warrants issued against them?

    Furthermore, why did David Miliband put into motion the changing of our laws to accommodate alleged Israeli war criminals like Tzipi Livni so that she could have free passage into the UK without fear of arrest for alleged war crimes?

    In essence, why is New Labour seemingly putting the interests of Israel above the interests of our own justice system?

  • Comment number 33.

    The Iraq War and Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 34.

    Bring the troops home.

    Pull out of the EU.

    Never give up the Falkland Islands.

  • Comment number 35.

    4. At 7:10pm on 21 Apr 2010, browned-off wrote:
    Nor have we ended up with any tangible benefits – like direct access to future oil and gas supplies – but every middle eastern terrorist group has now heavily underlined the UK on its list of targets!.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What are you blathering on about? Terrorists are attacking every country in the world, even people in their own Middle-eastern countries and Africa. Even the big Asia and Eastern countries like Russia and china which may not have many political and cultural ties with the West are being attacked.

  • Comment number 36.

    1) Trident needs to be disccused, whether that comes under foreign affairs on this occasion I don't know, but it should be, because the two are inextricably linked. This is a very serious issue, and personally, I would not want to think our Country is vulnerable in any way; costs should not even enter the equation. If we don't have a adequate nuclear deterrent, we are, without doubt, open to threats from all different quarters of the world, some states have no respect for the norm., (Jus Cogens), remembering certain standards are non-derogable, otherwise it would be a dangerous free for all!

    2) Then the infamous euro currency. This is clearly about giving up our Sovereignty, piece by piece, it should be dabated widely and openly, and the leaders should be open on their policies regarding this area of concern. There should be a referendum if there are any ambitions to tread this path.

    3) Europe, 'as such', whether to stay or go. Norway left, they don't seem to have regrets. When we first joined Europe it was a 'common market', which sums it up pretty well. However, even before we joined the 'common market', (name previously given to the European Union), we still traded with Europe, so why can't we do the same again - by leaving the EU we would have more say on border controls, our Courts would be in charge once again, and judgements from this Country would not be overuled, all simple, but very important stuff! Just to mention one or two points, and there are many more.

    4) Relationship with the USA. Definitely important to keep a good relationship with the US, but at the same time not allowing ourselves to be dictated to.

    Here's hoping the debate produces something a little more positive this week!

    Oh, yes, and what about Nick Clegg and his confidential papers being left in a taxi???? Gosh! Now whether that was NC himself or his trusted secretary I don't know, a bit risky nevertheless.

    Bon Nuit! Just to show I am not anti Europe!

  • Comment number 37.

    This country NEEDS the following:-
    Complete moritorium for immigration.
    Program of repatriation for ALL illegals.
    Immediate withdrawl from illegally occupied countries.
    Foreign aid completely discontinued.
    Common sense.

  • Comment number 38.

    I find it strange that the EU is quite high on people's foreign questions since it has a far greater impact on Home affairs. The big question I think must be trident and whether we should continue to have a nuclear deterrent, but this must not be at the expense of vital training and equipment that our troops actually use. we need to question where external relations should reside - with the USA as hegemon of the world or with the EU. I think for the immediate future - ie next 20 years they should lie with the USA. David Cameron did not make a mistake a week ago with his reference to China. We must remember how America got strong - with its economy first and its policy of not getting involved in foreign wars. China is pursuing a similar policy and we may find that in the future that nuclear deterrent was money well spent

  • Comment number 39.

    As long as the politicion is pretty, i don't care about their policies, they'll get my vote!

  • Comment number 40.

    Palestine… we need someone to put an end to the suffering if the Palestinian people under the Israeli occupation, we need someone who can stand up and tell Israel that they should respect the international law and stop killing people here and there get out of the Palestinian land, stop the build of weapon of mass distraction, stop the use of chemical and biological weapons against Palestinian population never allow the killing of children again

  • Comment number 41.

    For this Englishman watching the SNP drive for the breaking-up of the UK and the likely creation in a year or two of a Scottish independent state, it's time some English MPs started to think about how the assets and liabilities of the British state can be fairly distributed between the four constituent parts of the UK.

    There's no reason why when Scotland and England are independent states, we cannot (as Alex Salmond said), be the best of pals but there is quite a deal of smart thinking and hard work to do before then.

  • Comment number 42.

    1. Trident - is it worth the money?
    2. Iraq - how did we get into this mess and how can we get out of it?
    3. EU - Is there a sensible future without a measure of integration?
    4. Afghanistan - How viable are the people we are supporting?
    5. Nuclear disarmament - Are we going to support Obama's initiative?
    6. Global Poverty - is free market capitalism the answer?

  • Comment number 43.

    Liberals wooly policies need exposing.

    Labour's enactment of human rights legislation and resulting chaotic immigration and multicultural system need exposing

    Conservatives, need testing on their resolve to combat the growth of the EU political superstate.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think afghanistan and to how best win the war,also proper funding for equpment for our servicemen should be discused,iran and its nuclear enrichment program as well.Also i think overseas aid and the fight againt global poverty and how to tacle it should be discused.
    Also what lessons can be learned from the recent volcanic ash cloud incident which parylised travel at home and abroad

  • Comment number 45.

    Most MPs haven't a clue what goes on in this country .So they have absolutely no chance of sorting out our interests aboard. foreign policy simple ..KEEP YOUR SNOUT OUT-- Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you ... That way you can afford trident ... Because your not sending British forces overseas to fight very very costly wars ....
    This Libdem policy would leave this country defenceless in the long term.

    Think if you have a gun and your bitter foes have sticks .. you will not be a target,BUT,get rid of your gun and see what happens ..

    Most foreign governments oppose our sense of morality,So what makes you think that they would even tolerate those that indulge in alcohol, homosexuality and out of marriage sex...try telling then how to live ! Again chalk and cheese The world has stopped listening to Britain. let face Britain has stopped listening to Britain

  • Comment number 46.

    I have questions.

    1) If the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan don't improve long-term, is there an exit strategy or is the amount of time we're willing to spend on these wars infinite?

    2) Do you not think that inter-agency co-operation on intelligence prevents terrorist attacks more successfully, more cost-effectively and less provocatively than military intervention?

    3) Given the tension over the Falklands, are our military forces over-stretched and in the wrong place?

    4) Can you justify scrapping Trident when you could afford to build it 3 times over with the money we're wasting in Iraq and Afghanistan each year?

    5) Will Israel ever realise that international law applies to them?

    6) Can we stop giving £20bn of foreign aid to Scotland each year?

  • Comment number 47.

    They're obvious - two wars, Trident, the EU (Cameron will struggle here). Clegg to win again...

  • Comment number 48.

    European policies
    Lib-Dem Defence policy

    They should also discuss other issues including attitudes to a hung parliament

  • Comment number 49.

    I think this one will be a bit of a non-event. There are some important issues but the electorate don't really consider foreign policy when casting their vote Although I think the Tories have always suffered for being so anti-Europe, even two very unpopular wars didn't stop the government staying in power in '05. It's all about the economy, always has been, always will be. Discussion about the wars only ever takes place on an economic basis, either about the absolute cost or the lack of funds for equipment, never the morality or whether we should be fighting these wars at all. Likewise on Europe and Trident - it's all about the cost and not the rights and wrongs. So I really don't see this one making much difference to the election result - next week is the big one.

    The only thing to look out for this week is how DC and GB deal with NC - I expect them to turn the heat up and I very much doubt if Clegg wil come out of this one as strong. He may have peaked too early.

  • Comment number 50.

    We need a serious re-assesment of the International development budget. Why are we still paying out development grants to countries that can afford space programs, India and China. We should be telling them, your rich enough now, off you go, you don't need our help anymore!

  • Comment number 51.

    The elephant in the room is always the EU. Last time it got dismissed as all 3 main parties promised us a referendum. Lie number 537 in a series of 7,063!

  • Comment number 52.

    (1) Uncontrolled immigration + Illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    (2) The EU and the human rights act.

    Labour caused or backed (1) and partially (2), The Lib-Dems are also keen to keep the status quo.

    So no to Labour OR Libs!!!!

    Work it out.

  • Comment number 53.

    Iraq was a mistake. If you think Labour are US poodles, wait until you see what the Tories are like (Remember Thatch). They will do anything for the US as they are so against the continent of which we belong to.

  • Comment number 54.

    Get Britain out of the the EU
    And totally agree with No2
    The EU gravy train must be the most corrupt organisation ever formed.
    Why have their accounts never been signed off????????
    Wake up the British people, and demand a referendum as promised!!!!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    The key foreign issue: to align the UK's foreign policy to the human rights records of other countries, rather than trade possibilities. If this was implemented, the UK would not trade with either Saudi Arabia or Israel, two regimes with shocking human rights records and a history of oppression.

    This approach would also have a big impact on looking at world threats on the basis of the threat, without factoring in the oil and other riches which can be raped and pillaged from the country.

  • Comment number 56.

    Clearly, Afghanistan is top of the agenda, but I think we already know where the major parties stand on the issue.

    I also want to hear Nick Clegg make some statement about Britain's so-called "special relationship" with the US. Has he got the guts to call for an end to the era of the UK being America's poodle? If I wasn't already going to vote Lib Dem this would be a vote winner for me.

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 58.

    I would have watched it if it wasn't on sky tv.
    I cancelled my sky subscription as its about as useless as Clegg and Brown.
    By that I mean Iv'e seen and heard it all before. The thing they all have in common is they cost me too much money. At least though with sky I could opt out!!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Really important to make sure we probe the parties to make sure we tease out who is strongest to keep us in Europe..Labour and Lib Dem appear to be positive but Tory has a large underbelly of doubt..at the moment they are kept down but will come to the fore if in government ...we need to be in Europe to stay a growing country and anyone who says anything else is a member of the Little Britain party

  • Comment number 60.

    We need to give power to Europe, to create one large state... Withdraw troops from Iraq, to reinforce Afghanistan, and increase foreign aid =D

  • Comment number 61.

    Just exactly where do the parties stand on the following and why; & why are they not listening to the concerns of the electorate:

    1) Membership of the EU (why - it is only an intensively bureaucratic extra layer of administration and a drain on the economy which debilitates our ability to compete overseas;
    2) The referendum (any one who fails to hold one is seen to be a liar);
    3) Caps on EU & non EU immigration (we are an island with limited resources & there are too many Brits who can do the job who are unemployed);
    4) Failure to deport foreign national criminals (they only re-offend and it costs us to support them);
    5) Loss of sovereignty (what exactly have we lost & why;)
    6) Just why Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty without full and proper debate (was he bribed or leaned on?);
    7) The UKs relationship with the US;
    8) Wars with Afghanistan, Iraq and position with Iran and the Falklands;
    9) Why is the taxpayer footing Tony Bliars security costs - he can afford to do this himself;
    10) Why the EU can spy on UK citizens without proper checks and balances;
    11) All this aid to overseas when we have poverty and malnutrition on our streets and cannot afford to provide decent social care at home;
    12) How the parties will function as a proper democratic government with checks and balances, not oneman bands in dealing with the above.

    Failure to address any of the above means more votes for the BNP or UKIP.

  • Comment number 62.



    EU

    Clegg needs to be asked why he wants a referendum on going into the Euro when most voters don't want anything to do with the Euro. Presumably by being the one who sets the wording of the questions, he hopes to get a "yes" vote. Otherwise, why address the issue?

    Trident

    Clegg also needs to be asked why he has not budgeted for upgrade of Trident when no equal and less costly solution has been agreed. By not budgeting for it without an already agreed alternative he is de facto committing us to disarmament, when again most voters do not want this.

  • Comment number 63.

    The obvious issues are our military involvement in Afghanistan and potentially in Iran, our relations with the remainder of the EU, and our relations with emerging powers such as China, India, Turkey and Russia.

    I would hope that a new British Government would take us away from conflict in the Middle East, but only one with Liberal Democrat involvement is likely to do that.

    We are part of Europe. The EU is the world's greatest economic power at the moment, and unless we play a full part in it and ensure its success, its constituent parts will have the same influence in the mid-century world our children will be living in as the Duchy of Modena had 170 years ago. The history of the last quarter century indicates that the tendency for the Labour and Conservative parties to play to the tune of certain newspapers has undermined their ability to be regarded as responsible promoters of our national interest within the EU, as they prefer to pander to hysterical xenophobia and the absurd notion that we can somehow pretend we are entrusted with a sacred mission to rule the world.

    The economic circumstances in which we exist will result in the emerging nations such as China, India, Brazil and Turkey growing further in importance and we will have to deal with that. It would be better to seek co-operation rather than hostility, and once again the EU must be the agency for this. I would be interested to hear the arguments of all three leaders about how this may be dealt with.




  • Comment number 64.

    I would like to see a full discussion regarding why our troops are in Afghanistan. The reasons presently given by the Government seem to me to be ridiculous. We should bring them back and use the resources so released to improve home security.

  • Comment number 65.

    Stop subsidising tin-pot dictators, militarists and money-grabbing 'entrepreneurs' in third world countries when people in the same countries are dying of disease and starvation - turn off the gold taps and make them get the priorities right!

    Oh - and stop the Commonwealth Development Corporation investing in oilfields, land grabs and shopping centres rather than agriculture.

    And paying multi-million bonuses to its investment advisors

    Find a way to stand up to the EU and say NO in all the languages - if the French can raise two fingers when it suits, why can't we? Tell Whitehall that EU directives are discretionary until approved in Cabinet or Parliament, not an order!

    Fundamentally reappraise the Commonwealth - mutual support but must share mutual political aims, especially as regards true democracy and anti-terrorist co-operation. Engage more actively with the cultural partners e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand to make the rest get their acts together, stop bickering (e.g. India/Pakistan) as there are more insidious problems to face.

    Take a leadership role in the development of former colonial posassions which lack strong government and/or civil discipline but have economic potential (e.g. Trinidad)

    Be seen as independent of US foreign policy even if supporting it in certain areas; disengage from major support to US miltary on UK possessions (e.g Diego Garcia) and relace with UK presence

    Engage more pro-actively with Russia & China on economic and cultural levels

    Work to secure reliable energy resources from non-Muslim countries as an insurance against any 'backlash' from recent Middle East engagements



  • Comment number 66.

    Can the Lib Dems be trusted with the defence of our country?

    When Tony Blair said he was in 'no doubt' that the intelligence he had seen showed that Saddam had WMD, the Lib Dems voted against going after Saddam.

    What on Earth then would it take for the Lib Dems to defend us!?


    (Of course, we now know the intelligence was wrong and TB spun it for his own ends - but that's a different story.)

  • Comment number 67.

    Europe - I would Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg to explain why they opposed a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty when it was Manifesto Promise at the last election!

  • Comment number 68.

    One of the first things I'd do is have a referendum on Europe simply to silece alll those who act as if the EU is one huge conspiracy invented by European's for their owm Machiavelian schemes. I'd also point out the tens of millions who died in European wars in the fifty years before the introduction of Europe as a political and economic entity. Then I would ask what is the end-game in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and are the policies of H.M. Government helping to secure peace and stability in that important, but troubled region. On nuclear weapons I'd look at a cost, benefits analysis and determine if having nuclear weapons makes Britain more or less secure. Finally, on immigration I would ask myself realistically what can be done about immigration. I suspect in the long term nothing, since large scale migration througout history has been a noticeable feature of human society and unless we are willing to resort to draconian methods, I'm afraid it's a phenomonon that will always be part of human society.Much like invading other countries and stealing their resources.

  • Comment number 69.

    When will they adopt a policy which will reduce our dependence on foreign powers by our becoming self sufficient in energy.

  • Comment number 70.

    24. At 8:23pm on 21 Apr 2010, Wu Shu wrote:

    "We must not be allowed to forget the Iraq war and we must not allow Gordon Brown off the hook.

    Tony Blair led us into that war. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died as a result. Hundreds of our soldiers died as a result. And Tony Blair is now lining his pockets from companies involved in Iraqi oil.

    I would like New Labour to tell us how much the war in Iraq has cost us. And then i'd like the Lid Dems or the Tories to promise to prosecute those who took us into that illegal war and make them pay the full cost of that war out of their own blood-stained pockets."

    You seriously believe the Tories would have told their money grabbing amoral republican chums to shove it where Iraq and Afghanistan was concerned.What are you smoking!??

  • Comment number 71.

    There is only 1 question for 1 of the "panel"

    "Gordon - why did you deny the UK electorate a vote on the Europe that was in the last Labour Manifesto?"

  • Comment number 72.

    1) IMMIGRATION, Why are we still bringing people into the country by the boatload when we do not have enough jobs (2.5 million unemployed and thats only the "official" figures), not enough housing, not enough education, policing, prison places (where many of them end up), not enough money full stop.

    2) Illegal wars, why are we fighting illegal wars in the Middle East, bring our troops home and shore up our borders. Kick out anyone living here who intends us harm. Bring back hanging for treason.

    3) Money system, why are we so dependant on debt? Any good housekeeper knows, live within your means and not on the never never (credit cards). If its good for domestic life, run busines the same, build up working capital for cash flow, pay off debt as soon as possible and run the business in the black. More profit for the business, less money for parasitic bankers.
    Run the country the same, so taxes pay for the services we need, (healthcare, Education and policing) not bankers bonuses.

    4) Europe, get out of Europe, we put more in than we will ever get out. We no longer manufacture anything of worth in this country, so we have nothing to trade with anyway. I resent my wages paying for the Kinnock family gravey train.

    5) MP's expenses, Treat fiddling MP's with the same harseness as benefit cheats. Get any guilty MP's , confiscate their homes and bank balances and make them live in a inner city council flat for a year on £60 a week Job Seekers Allowance. That will give them an insight to the real world and prevent the being parasites of the working classes.

    6) Work to create REAL jobs with REAL wages (not minimum wage topped up with tax credits) so that everyone who is capable, works and pays their share, but also gets a good standard of living out of it. All government and corperate policies at the moment are about destroying jobs in the name of profit. Then the people who have destroyed the jobs moan about the workshy lazy. I moan about the workshy myself, but before you can get them back to work, we need to educate them and create REAL jobs for them to do. These policies would reduce the gap between the rich and the poor in society, and that is the reason the Establishment does not want it to happen.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.

    #36, Southern Lady, Norway was never in the EU. It rejected joining by a referendum.

    No country has ever left the EU.

  • Comment number 75.

    Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan

  • Comment number 76.

    Islamic terrorism.

    The EU funding of Palestinian terrorism

    The UN-sactioned

  • Comment number 77.

    Any talk of severing ties with the United States or to "stop being America's poodle" seem to be about eight years out of date. There is a new administration, a new sense of direction in the country, and the focus on the economy, on healthcare and on domestic affairs in the United States reflects the current priorities of their nation. I predict there will not be another war in the Middle East in the next few years, if only because Obama is so concerned with his international image: if there is the threat of a war, I'm sure the case for it will be far more pressing and far more substantial than that of Iraq. Brown, Cameron and Clegg can all "get tough" on America, but what that means short of marching into the White House and mussing up Obama's desk I don't know.

    Moreover, we have to appreciate where the power is. Of course we shouldn't agree with America on every issue for the sake of it, but we also have to realise that in matters of international diplomacy, Britain is not the equal of the United States. Very few, if any, countries are, and if the next prime minister acts like a doberman just because his predecessor was a poodle, we will lose a powerful ally for no reason.

  • Comment number 78.

    The foreign policy debate should focus solely on Europe.

    Why are we paying so much money into the EU?

    (1) The EU paid an Indian company (Tata) to make UK workers redundant (Corus, Redcar) through carbon trading to the tune of £750,000 per employee. That is obscene.

    (2) EU accounts have not been auditted for many years. Given that we have just had an almighty fuss over unwarranted spending by MPs and claiming on their expenses, we should not put a single penny more into the EU coffers until it can be proved that we, the tax payers, are getting value for money.

    If any of the leaders can explain why we should continue to contribute to the EU, I'll vote for their party's candidate on Election Day.

  • Comment number 79.

    Global Islamic terrorism.

    EU funding of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

    Overturning the current UN-sanctioned laws which make it legal to ethnically cleanse Jews from their land.

    The recognition of the right of Jews to live in East Jerusalem, as they had done for millennia before being ethnically cleansed in 1948.

    Tough on Iran instead of kowtowing to them.

    Protect our ships and citizens against pirates in a robust manner, instead of the current weak response.

    Loosen the firm grip that the Islamic bloc have on the UN, especially the human rights council dominated by Islamic nations.

    Stop the double standards and hypocrisy when it comes to Israel. Stop pretending that the British government isn't involved in assassinations and stop pretending that Mi6 go in and out of countries on their own passports. Every country has to do undesirable things, and Britain certainly isn't in a position to morally preach.


  • Comment number 80.

    Dare I say the initial Foreign Policy of Tony Blair as espoused by Robin Cook, as Britain being an "honest broker" was the right idea. "Tony" Blair became Bush's poodle and Cook fell out of favour.

    1) Support the Palestinians v Israelis, who has the weapons?
    2) If Iran's nuclear programme is a threat, so is Israels
    3) Support Pakistan's government and help Afghanistan achieve democracy.
    4) Support the removal of ALL nuclear weapons.
    5) make the Falkland Islands a Sovereign nation, in their own right.

  • Comment number 81.

    Why do we insist on these artificial barriers between nations? If they weren't there then we wouldn't have all this territoriality or a notion of 'us' and 'them'. My foreign policy is to treat everyone as equal no matter where they are from and to give help to those that need it the most, and not based on artificial man-made barriers.

    I would like to know when we are planning on joining the euro to bring us a step closer to one world.

  • Comment number 82.

    It would be good to see the public given a choice about the EU, as far as I recall anyone around 30 years ago got to vote the UK to join a TRADE ORGANISATION, not a political one.

    I'd also ask the winner to not do as Europe and America says because I find it humiliating considering our place in the world.

  • Comment number 83.

    I would like Cameron to be asked if he stands by his stupid remark that Trident needs to be kept because of threats from Iran and China and was he aware that China is a member of the Security Council

  • Comment number 84.

    Foreign Policy under my rule:

    1. Stop paying Europe and plan extraction whilst keeping Free Trade Agreements.

    2. Stop ALL overseas aid including Africa except to countries needing assistance in the event of Natural Disasters such as Earthquakes etc.

    3. Extraction of all Troops from Afghanistan but work with them to work towards a political solution between the parties to create a stable government and environment.

    4. Seek world agreements to remove ALL Nuclear Weapons and assist third world countries to develop Nuclear Power to reduce the reliance on Coal Power Stations and therefore reduce worldwide Pollution/CO2 Emmissions.

    5. Withdraw any support for Israel until they agree on fair and proper borders to create the state of Palestine and to stop building settlements in the occupied territories.



  • Comment number 85.

    The discussion will be interesting with Clegg's position bakced by some leading former generals. Yet again Clegg will be seen as taking a practical stance whilst Browm and Cameron are still iving in the 80's and 90's.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm sure poor old Brown will be pilloried over the Iraq debacle when it was not his, but Blair's, deceptions that led us into it. Yes, Brown was in the cabinet that went to war, but was most likely fed the same pack of lies as the rest of us. Tories were also very pro-war initially. Would be nice to hear some commitment to get out of Afghanistan, and to stop being the US poodle. Would also be nice to hear something positive towards Europe, instead of making it the scapegoat for all ills. Europe has a long history of war within itself, but since the inception of the EU - over half a century of peace!

  • Comment number 87.

    I would like to ask Brown and Clegg why they both broke their election promises to hold a vote on the EU Constitution. Will Clegg hold his alternative of a referendum on staying in or leaving the UK? Somehow I doubt it!

  • Comment number 88.

    #81 Why do we insist on these artificial barriers between nations? If they weren't there then we wouldn't have all this territoriality or a notion of 'us' and 'them'.
    ------
    Absolutely, I don't know whose interest these ancient divisions are in, but it's certainly not those of 99% of the population.

    We (the world) very much need to stop concentrating what, 20, 30% of our global budgets/energies/talents on preparing for, and executing war.

    Wars are always between the ruling classes, let them go somewhere and fight, we have a civilisation to get on with.

  • Comment number 89.

    66. At 10:41pm on 21 Apr 2010, TheWalrus999 wrote:

    "Can the Lib Dems be trusted with the defence of our country?

    When Tony Blair said he was in 'no doubt' that the intelligence he had seen showed that Saddam had WMD, the Lib Dems voted against going after Saddam.

    What on Earth then would it take for the Lib Dems to defend us!?


    (Of course, we now know the intelligence was wrong and TB spun it for his own ends - but that's a different story.)"

    Perhaps they actually listened to Hans Blick?

    Perhaps they were a smidge cynical about US motives and thought - hang on, why are they so determined to bring about the downfall of this particular dictator when they have propped up so many in the past wasn't George's Dad,and that nice Mr Cheney,quite chummy with Saddam?)

    Then again perhaps they just thought...mmmm..Oil mmmm.... US Interests?

    Course, the tories wouldn't have done squat, as they worship the Republicans.

  • Comment number 90.

    67. peterwsm wrote:
    "Europe - I would Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg to explain why they opposed a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty when it was Manifesto Promise at the last election!"

    It would have been impossible for anyone to promise a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty at the time of the last election (2005). The idea of this new EU Reform Treaty first surfaced in June 2007. The final text of the Treaty was agreed by heads of state in October 2007, and signed in December 2007. Labour and the LibDems never promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It was only David Cameron who gave a "cast iron guarantee" that he would hold a referendum.



  • Comment number 91.

    For me the elephant in the room is clearly Afghanistan. I'm not sure what percentage of people want the troops withdrawn, but it is significant and there does not seem to be a party willing to commit to this.
    I would like to see a way to stop the likes of Blair blatantly ignoring the will of the electorate(Iraq). If the majority of people want the troops home, then they should come home NOW.
    Also, I would like to see foreign aid suspended immediately. Our country is broke and if it is not fixed as a matter of urgency then there will be no more foreign aid again ever. Charity begins at home.

  • Comment number 92.

    More to the point, why is the debate on sky. It seems to me that means that a large part of the public cannot see it. Really democratic that is!

  • Comment number 93.

    Key global issue?

    Build up our armed forces so we can protect our interests overseas. Heroin from Afghanistan is killing our kids and costing us a fortune in crime here in the UK not to mention funding Islamic terrorism. Our forces in Afghanistan must be properly funded and supplied to be more able to tackle the local insurgents if we are to stop these long-range proxy attacks on the UK.

  • Comment number 94.

    I think the leaders need to discuss whether this country should remain part of the EU - the arguments for and against. There's a lot of dissatisfaction in this country over the EU, as seen in this BBC opinion poll showing a majority in favour of withdrawal:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/the_daily_politics/7949104.stm

    As the one and only in-out referendum was back in 1975, it's high time we had another one, especially since the public were denied their promised referendum on the European Constitution.

    And no, I won't be voting Liberal Democrat, because their manifesto promise of a referendum is too conditional and is couched in obscure language.

  • Comment number 95.

    We all know the party line for the Lab/Lib Dem/Con is exactly the same on the EU. They will all tell us that the NET cost of our EU membership is about £6 billion per year, and if we come out of the EU this will put thousands of people out of work, and we will loose significant trade with Europe. Equally all the British people all know that both these statements are lies, or at least deceitful.

    Firstly the real NET cost of EU membership is well in excess of £100 billion per year, and growing. This is well documented by CIVITAS, the TPA, and several other proven Think Tanks. This comes from the £6 billion the Lab/Lib Dem/Con all talk about, but they then conveniently forget the £50 billion cost to British industry by EU imposed legislation, which we the British public, and the British Government have absolutely no say about. Where is the democracy in that?

    Secondly there is the question welfare payments to thousands of EU immigrants who come to our country for the sole reason of claiming benefits, because they get a much better deal in the UK than they get in their own country, and the huge cost to the NHS. These people have not paid one penny into our welfare State. This amounts to about another £30 billion per year.

    Thirdly the cost of MEP’s salary, plus expenses / travel costs are about another £15 billion per year. If my maths are correct that’s about £101 billion per year, and growing rapidly.

    Regarding the scare mongering tactics of the three traditional parties about jobs. Once again we see this to be wrong. Again CIVITAS, the TPA, and others have done in depth analysis, which shows that no jobs – apart from those of MEP’s, would be lost. The jobs at the French owned Peugeot plant at Ryton were NOT saved by being in the EU. The French, like any other international company simply looked at the cost of manufacturing in the UK compared to manufacturing in an Eastern Block country, and found it was cheaper to manufacture outside the UK. All companies have a responsibility to their shareholders, and they will manufacture where they get the best return. These Think Tanks have all said that jobs / trade are generated by sales, and sales are generated by selling product / services, which offer something the public want at a competitive price, with the right quality, and availability.

    I know this is a very long question, but it is very important for the future of our country. If we stay in the EU then it will be the end of Great Britain.

    Finally I would ask why my father, grandfather fought two world wars, and many of them gave their lives, fighting for Queen and country to ensure the FREEDOM of British people, the Lab/Lib Dem/Con are so determined to hand over our sovereignty to Europe?

    So, how about asking the Lab/Lib Dem/Con some real questions.

  • Comment number 96.

    I have two questions; Will you agree to bring our armed services home from the wars? And; Will you agree to put British interests and citizens first?

  • Comment number 97.

    billyhano, 90:

    "Labour and the LibDems never promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty."

    All parties promised a referendum on the European Constitution, which the Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as many others, regarded as substantially the same as the Lisbon Treaty.

    And even if we consider just the period when the European Constitution was still known by that name: Tony Blair deliberately betrayed his promise by voting in the European Council (the EU heads of government meeting) to kill off the Constitution. The decision had to be unanimous, so he could have kept the Constitution alive until the promised referendum had been held, but he chose not to.


    "The idea of this new EU Reform Treaty first surfaced in June 2007."

    It may have surfaced then, but I suspect the idea was born the morning after the Dutch voted No to the European Constitution.

  • Comment number 98.

    As a medium sized European power it is in our interests to develop closer ties with our European friends in the EU. The big players in the world - USA, China, India etc. are unlikely to pay much attention to the UK on its own. The EU can negotiate as an equal on the world stage. We need to learn to play the EU game rather better than we have in the past and help form a strong union to protect all our interests around the world. Our politicians need to demonstrate a clear strategy for how we, in collaboration with other countries of a similar size and with similar interests and cultures to our own, can best secure our economic prosperity and political independence in a rapidly changing world.

  • Comment number 99.

    In my view, there needs to be a big national discussion on EU membership. I think it is time for country as a whole to reflect on why exactly it is anti-European. If the outcome of that reflection is that it has no real reason to hate Europe, then Britain should consider becoming a serious and committed member of the EU, no longer being just the brakeman on the last carriage. However, if it finds it cannot overcome its hostility towards the continent, then the UK should leave the EU for its own sake. The government could simply hold the referendum that all the Anti-Europe people in Britain have been asking for for so long. And thanks to the Lisbon treaty there now is an official exit from the Union. It allows you to just leave and close the door behind you.

  • Comment number 100.

    I read about halfway down the comments page before I got so frustrated by the massive amount of ignorance shown by HYS readers!

    British forces are not in Iraq any more! There have been no British troops there as of the end of July last year, you're only nearly 10 months out of date! Look it up if you don't believe me.

    The Afghanistan war isn't illegal, there's a UN mandate for it, nor is it about oil, Afghan oil deposits are negligible, again look it up.

    The foreign policy debate should focus on finding a balance between EU and US relations as well as the extent to which our national foreign policy is being subsumed into the greater EU with the developments brought in as a result of the Lisbon Treaty.

 

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