There were angry exchanges at the end of last night’s ITV Election Debate as Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price demanded to know why Labour had not already introduced free social care in Wales – a key pillar of its election manifesto for this month’s poll.
At the culmination of a debate that started with lengthy exchanges about policing and terror legislation in the aftermath of Friday’s London Bridge attack, and touched heavily on Brexit, Mr Price drew laughter from the audience as he briefly left Labour’s Richard Burgon silenced by asking repeatedly about the absence of the type of social care reforms in Wales described in Labour’s plans for government in Westminster.
Addressing Labour’s shadow justice secretary – who was standing in for Jeremy Corbyn – Mr Price said: “I think this is one of the most important questions of this general election. I see it in my own family, I see it in my 80-year-old mother having to try to negotiate the complexity of a means-tested system to care properly for my 84-year-old father. It comes to the basic question of whether we are a decent society.
“And again, I don’t mean to bang on about this, but why is it when you’re in government in Wales – you’ve had free social care in Scotland – why can’t we have it in Wales? The thing about a national health and social care service is it’s free at the point of care for social care users. You could do it in Wales now, why don’t you?”
In response, Mr Burgon said: “We need, in Wales, and across the country, we need an end to austerity. The way to achieve that is to get a Labour government. I wish Adam would realise, the people who’ve made the lives of people in Wales is actually the Conservatives who’ve been in government for the last 10 years.”
But as host Julie Etchingham attempted to move the debate on, Mr Price continued his point, asking: “You keep on saying how disappointed you are in me, not half as disappointed as I am in your government in Wales. If it’s possible in Scotland, answer me this, why is it not possible in Wales where you’re the party of government?”
As the camera turned to Mr Burgon glaring silently at Mr Price rather than responding, loud laughter was heard from the audience.
Mr Burgon eventually responded: “There have been huge cuts to Wales from the Government in Westminster, there have been big achievements by the Welsh Government in relation to the NHS.”
Earlier, the political row over Friday’s terror attack showed no signs of abating as the parties took turns to blame each other for the release of convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who carried out the attacks on Usman Khan that left two Cambridge graduates dead.
Representing the Tories again in place of Boris Johnson, Treasury Chief Secretary Rishi Sunak said Usman Khan had been released as result of changes brought in by the last Labour government.
“He was released due to a law passed in 2008 under the last Labour government where people were released automatically halfway through their sentence.” he said.
“We changed that law in 2012 and if he had been sentenced under out rules he would still be in jail.”
For Labour, shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said it was “not true” that the only option at the time was automatic release of Khan halfway of through his sentence.
“People don’t want history lessons after this terrorist atrocity. What people want is to put victims first and put keeping communities safe first,” he said.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage blamed “political correctness” for the release from prison of Khan.
Mr Farage said people convicted of plotting mass murder should never be released from prison unless it was clear they did not have the “jihadi virus”.
“Nobody apologises for the fact that the liberal elite have given us a ridiculous sentencing system,” he said.
“I don’t care if you were in prison for six years or 12 years. If you have committed mass murder or planned to commit mass murder you are not just an ordinary criminal you have got the virus of jihadi-ism.
“I think these people should never ever be let out prison unless we are absolutely convinced they do not have the jihadi virus. But political correctness stops us from doing that.”
Elsewhere, Mr Farage said it was a “great mistake” for politicians in Britain to demonise Donald Trump, although the Brexit Party leader acknowledged that some of Mr Trump’s comments about grabbing women were “wrong”.
“It was crass and it was crude and it was wrong – men say dreadful things sometimes. If all of us were called out for what we did on a night out after a drink, none of us would …” he said.
He was interrupted by Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson who said: “Is that what you do on a night out after a drink?”
Mr Farage replied: “He is president of the USA and that relationship matters. You are so anti-American you are prepared to put your hatred of Trump above our national interest. That is a great mistake.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon accused Boris Johnson of modelling himself on Donald Trump.
Ms Sturgeon said: “That in my view is not what the UK or any part of it needs. Donald Trump’s attitudes are wrong and they are dangerous. In Boris Johnson, we have got somebody who is trying to be like him.”
For the Government, Mr Sunak said: “The relationship we have with America is incredibly important for keeping us safe. That is not something to turn your nose up at.”
Mr Price said Mr Farage was wrong to defend the US President.
“The words we use matter, where it’s in public or in private, and it can never be acceptable for a man to talk about grabbing a woman’s pussy. If you think it is you should be ashamed of yourself,” he told Mr Farage.
“The sad reality is that we have a prime minister who referred to gay men like myself as ‘bum boys in tank tops’, referred to Muslim women looking like letter boxes. This is creating a climate where abuse becomes acceptable, whether it’s abuse of women or abuse of minorities. And that’s why neither Trump nor Boris Johnson are fit to be in public office.”
For Labour, Mr Burgon said: “Our quarrel and difference is with some of the policies of Donald Trump, who like Boris Johnson is a politician who has given the green light to sexism, homophobia and racism – and that cannot be allowed to flourish.”