Fiery election debate in America has positive benefits for hospice

The Fairfax Gallery 2

The bad-tempered accusations being thrown by both sides during the build-up to the US Presidential election have helped produce a positive result for one local charity.

More than £2,200 was raised for Hospice in the Weald from the 140-strong audience who attended a debate on the election at the EM Forster Theatre at Tonbridge School.

Tonbridge & Malling MP, Tom Tugendhat, was joined on stage by former Judd pupil and senior Daily Telegraph reporter on the 2016 US election, Tim Stanley. Both men are patrons of the Pembury-based hospice.

Hospice Chairman Simon Lee said it takes £7million a year to run the charity and that “it’s events like this which help us continue the work that we do.”

The charity’s fundraising hopes for the event were boosted after the theatre offered to waive most of the hire fee.

Mr Stanley, a Sevenoaks resident and expert in modern American history, began the talk by exploring the pasts of the two presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

He gave insights into their character, political vision and suitability for becoming the next ‘leader of the free world’.

While the billing of the event suggested that ‘The Donald’ would dominate discussion, Mr Stanley was equally critical of Clinton, describing both candidates as ‘disliked to a unique degree in US history’.

As the talk moved on, Mr Tugendhat added his thoughts from a British, strategic perspective. On the subject of the infamous wall that Trump proposes to build along the Mexican border, the MP insisted that the UK should be ‘extremely cautious of criticising the US’. He argued that it would be wiser to let ‘due process get on with it,’ citing his trust in the US Constitution.

Mr Stanley summarised the potential outcomes of next month’s vote as ‘whoever wins, everyone loses’.

The most unexpected revelation of the night came when Mr Tugendhat casually revealed that he had once had dinner with Ivanka Trump, the business mogul’s eldest daughter.

He quickly clarified that it was a group dinner, later explaining it was organised through a friend and ‘not the dinner party I was expecting to be at’.

Mr Stanley said: “The hospice is an astonishing organisation. When my father passed away these people were extraordinary. I don’t know what we would’ve done without them.”

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