Sunak and Starmer’s first UK election debate was a battle of the nerds – POLITICO

They spoke fluently and they may have looked passionate, but it electrified the election as they entered Monday’s contest with a thin-lipped, bloodless manner from men who lacked the charisma of a Nigel Farage.

And yet, if you listen to them carefully, it becomes clear that for all the surface similarities, they are politicians with different traditions and very different streaks in their souls.

They can both be boring – but they’re not really the same.

Perhaps the most telling moment in the debate came when host Julie Etchingham asked the duo if they would pay a sick relative to jump the queue for medical treatment. “Yes,” Sunak said quietly but firmly. “No, I don’t use private health, I use the NHS,” Starmer countered, eyes blinking in righteous indignation behind black-framed glasses. His wife, sister and mother all worked in the nation’s beloved but creaking public health system – paying for treatment was a travesty.

This is all, in a nutshell, a microcosm of the difference between conservatives and labor.

Sunak, a staunch defender of liberty and freedom of choice, sent him to an elite private school, putting in long hours as his parents worked in the NHS as a general practitioner and a pharmacist. His intelligence led him to top universities and jobs that gave him a financial cushion to help loved ones in pain or distress. This is a story to be proud of, not one to hide, conservatives argue.

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