Good evening, welcome to the Wessex Scene’s coverage of the Union’s General Election Debate between representatives of our university’s political societies. They will be debating key issues in addition to answering questions from the audience assembled here at the Bridge.
To commence, the opening statements from each speaker – to begin the Conservative speaker Charlie Pound
Pound already on the frontfoot, already critiquing the shortfalls of the ‘Coalition of Chaos’
Hannah Ashworth is representing the Liberal Democrat party. She opens by discussing the Liberal Democrat’s NHS, Education and Environmental policies.
Finally we hear from the Labour speaker, Charlie Fear, the society’s membership and publicity officer! Fear warns of the danger posed by a weak negotiating position in Brexit, and emphasises revitalisation of the NHS, and education policies
Union President Alex Hovden opens up the floor to questions…
The first question from Henry Lane, asking the Conservative candidate how best Britain can achieve economic stability in the Brexit period.
Our News Editor Sam Tyler stresses Britain’s continued prioritisation of economic policies, arguing that Brexit does not herald economic implosion.
Hannah Ashworth, the Liberal Democrat representative, warns about the dangers of ending free movement.
Fear stresses that this is not a General Election remaining in a bipolar Remain vs Leave sphere.
Fear accuses the Conservatives of putting ‘party before country’.
Ashworth critiques what voters actually intended when voting Leave, instead suggesting they aimed for a soft, not hard, Brexit… Is Brexit just Brexit?
Pound, says ‘The Lib Dems have a clear position on Brexit, the Conservatives have a clear position on Brexit’, whereas Labour have ‘no clear direction’ for their Brexit plan.
Our second question, also on economics, asks the panel why, with our GDP rising, are people’s wages falling?
Fear gangs up against the Conservative speaker, pressing him on why only the 1% has got richer
Ashworth continues this assault, commenting that the pay rise for the 1% disregards nurses within the NHS
The next question from the floor: ‘why, if wages are increasing, is the use of food banks also on the up?’
Fear responding for Labour blames ‘chronic mismanagement of our economy’ for the rise in use of food banks.
“An ethical foreign policy”. Fear warns of the danger of previous Tory trade with unreliable partners.
Fear with another graph, this time targeting “Chronic Tory economic mismanagement”. Labour have certainly come prepared…
A question from the floor asks Labour plainly ‘where is the money coming from?’
Tyler continues to discuss the merits of a three day week, arguing that Labour are going back to the 70’s.
Pound turns the table, exploiting Labour’s quixotic political manifesto… Money doesn’t grow on trees?
The panel discuss the lib dem’s proposal for a ‘1p tax’.
The debate shifts to our nuclear deterrent, with Fear commenting that if Britain didn’t have Trident, public wealth would rise exponentially.
Returning to economic policies, Pound defends the social care act, commenting that rises in additional funding to our healthcare system has been in accordance with NHS requests
Discussion turns to the parties policies on corporation tax and provisions for small businesses.
Discussion turns to policies on corporation tax and provisions for small businesses.
Ashworth, flustered, dodges the question.
Tyler instead takes charge, pressing Fear over the inadequacies of the ‘Robin Hood Tax’.
Fear admits the Robin Hood tax is idealistic, yet defends Labour’s “realistic” manifesto….
With the interval called, we take the opportunity to catch our breaths
The next round of questions begins with a scathing attack on the tories. Pound is left to defend accusations that the Conservatives are intent on ‘destroying the planet’.
Ashworth highlights the success of the Lib Dem’s Green Deal to encourage greater spending on renewable energy, axed after the 2015 General Election…
Fear is not as sharp on Labour’s environmental policies as on its economic policy. No graphs this side of the break (yet) …
Clear polarisation on the panel between Pound and Ashworth against Fear, with Ashworth dismissing the impracticality of Labour’s Green Policies.
Fear challenges Lib Dem rep Ashworth, refuting ‘you don’t know what our policy is, but yours is better’.
Fear and Tyler ridicule Ashworth’s lack of environmental policy awareness, despite offering better policies..
Tyler earns a round of applause for defending Labour representative Fear’s commitment to facts and figures (and of course his graphs).
Go hard or go home. Fear identifies Conservative environmental policies as vote driven – juxtaposed to Labour’s?
Fear’s fact sheets and graphs fail to recognise the idiosyncrasy of Nottingham’s city council – shocking gap in knowledge
The discussion turns to Labour’s energy policy and re-nationalisation plans.
Lane’s up again, this time enquiring how each party aims to tackle disability, pressing Pound on the Conservatives disregard for those with physical and mental health disabilities
Pound retorts, declaring Conservatives intend to replace the outdated mental health act, instead offering a system that works for everyone
Ashworth emotionally argues that the Lib Dems are the ‘only party taking mental health seriously’.
Fear argues that ‘mental health is not something we should play political football with’.
Ashworth clarifies that not simply having more staff is essential in effectively tackling mental health, but having trained staff
The discussion turns to the practise of religion in schools.
1 hour 34 minutes and we finally hear this election’s soundbite… Beats Theresa May’s record!
The gates have opened… ‘strong and stable’ echoed twice by the Labour representative.
Quickly followed by the other – Fear observes Theresa May’s internal coalition of chaos amongst Tory backbenchers
“It’s pot calling the kettle black”. Tyler is quick to amend Fear’s claims, pointing out the current state of the Labour Party.
Will raising tuition fees again discourage students from applying? Pound claims not…
Fear repeats his criticism of the tories’ ‘chronic management’… a case of deja vu?
“Empty platitudes”… Fear views the Tory healthcare policy as impractical, particularly when acknowledging May’s tough stance on immigration
The topic changes to legalisation of cannabis. Both Labour and the Lib Dems declare their intention to de-criminalise illegal drugs, yet legalisation does not resolve the problem of enforcement.
2 hours in, panel still ‘strong and stable’ …
The topic changes to Labour’s ostracised leader, with both Pound and Ashworth taking the easy shot against Corbyn’s leadership
Tyler unaware of the decision to bomb Syria… someone doesn’t keep up to date with Wessex Scene’s international coverage
And that brings tonight’s debate to a close…
Debate Winner? Stalemate. It was certainly more equal than most election polls predict…