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Theresa May refusing to debate is an insult to the British public


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The live TV debate; an important part of any party's election campaign, you would think. In a bizarre week in which Nigel Farage even extended praise to Corbyn via twitter, Wednesday's leaders debate was also a strange event, given that not all leaders were present.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who stepped in for Theresa May on Wednesday

I'm not sure whether Jeremy Corbyn actually changed his mind last minute to attend Wednesday's leaders debate, or whether it's some psychological game he's been planning for weeks, but his arrival in Cambridge was met with both praise and loud cheer from Labour supporters, and I'm certain the surprise appearance has done nothing but bolster his already reasonably successful campaign.

Like many young left- wing millennials, and most of the opposition party leaders, I took to Twitter to call Theresa May out on the fact she had failed to appear in a live television debate, instead sending home secretary Amber Rudd on her behalf. It certainly portrays our current prime minister as 'weak and wobbly', but even I must admit given the situation she was in, Amber Rudd held her own reasonably well, given that at times it seemed everyone was against her. 

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron didn't hold back, slating Theresa May's absence in both his opening and closing statement. May also came under fire from Corbyn, Nuttall and Green Party's Caroline Lucas - who I also thought presented herself, and her party's views, successfully. 

My issue with Theresa May's absence lays in her reasonings. I recall an interview I watched, in which her reason for not debating with Jeremy Corbyn was that she doesn't think "people get much out of watching politicians having a go at each other". One of the other reasons she gave closer to the event itself, was that she was busy thinking about Brexit negotiations. Also worrying.

It concerns me that one of, if not the, most powerful figures in Britain currently, is unable to juggle planning Brexit negotiations and a live TV debate, and yet the same figure will jump at any opportunity to criticize Corbyn for not talking about Brexit enough, and being more concerned with TV appearances.

A futher concern of mine is that this is a general election called by Theresa May herself, in the midst of these Brexit negotiations, but it appears she is not treating it as such. This is an opportunity for the British public to vote for a future and society they want, not the Brexit they want. As far as I'm concerned, this election is not about Brexit, as it could be May, Corbyn, or myself in charge of the negotiations - the outcome will always be the same. 

Theresa May has failed to show that she understands the implications of what she has done. The Conservative campaign has been incredibly uninspiring, and as members of the British public we should demand more from our leader. This election was her doing, and was her opportunity to convince us she is the right person to lead us forward, but instead failure to attend debates, a questionable manifesto, and some unbelievable policies have proven the Tories do not value the opinions of the public. 

If she is the 'strong and stable' leader she claims so often to be, then maybe she wouldn't have called this election in the first place, but as it is happening, it is her responsibility to confidently inform the voters of her plans, her budgets, and her beliefs. It is a leader's responsibility to give us the debate we need; it gives the voters a chance to put that leader under the microscope in an unbias and controlled environment.

The debate got me thinking in a very different way; my vote will still go to Labour of course, and yet I now have a lot more respect for the Green party's campaign, and not so much in a political sense, but I now have a slightly greater appreciation for Tim Farron after his humorous opening statement. The point is I learnt something from the debate, and I know I won't be alone on that. Not only it is very typical of British culture to enjoy seeing cringe- worthy exchanges between people under pressure, but these leaders debates exist to help the voters make their decision. Our prime minister's lack of willing and effort to give us the debate we want is not only a serious misjudgement of the British public, but it is an insult to us as voters and to democracy.

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