Between the three parliamentary constituencies of Southampton Itchen, Southampton North and Romsey and Southampton Test there are eighteen candidates whose fate will ultimately be decided, in part, by University of Southampton students.
Despite the diverse range of candidates for the marginal seats, the majority of these candidates have gone unnoticed by both national and local press and subsequently, by the voting public due to the latest in a long list of UKIP gaffes.
Of all of the candidates standing in Southampton, Mr Royston Smith for the Conservatives marks the antithesis of his UKIP counterpart, at least with respect to press coverage. Politics aside, what makes Mr Smith notable is his own unjustifiably low press exposure despite his actions whilst on a visit on board the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine, HMS Astute in April 2011. Following the fatal shooting of Lieutenant Commander Molyneux by an able seaman, Mr Smith disarmed the man and as a result was awarded the George Medal.
Equally, Labour’s candidate for the same seat is particularly noteworthy, Mrs Rowenna Davis’ journalistic accomplishments are, to say the least, impressive and her work in encouraging young people to enter local politics in South London are relevant and transferable, particularly to a university city such as Southampton.
In the Southampton Test constituency, the independent candidate Chris Davis, who was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year’s Honours list for his charity work aimed at reducing poverty in the city. According to his website he is particularly concerned by the stark increase in people’s reliance on food banks, as well as the high proportion of the Solent population who are employed in zero-hours contracts. Both of these issues will prove to be important both on a local and national level after the election.
By presenting just a small sample of the eighteen candidates from the three constituencies which represent the University of Southampton’s student population (and that’s not including Winchester students) it is evident they are more unique and multi-faceted than the media are willing to present. It seems unjust that such acts of bravery, achievement and selflessness by parliamentary candidates go relatively unnoticed in the press due to a trivial matter of an illegally distributed pastry.
Many young people exhibit a feeling of disaffection towards British politics which would undoubtedly be lessened by a greater exposition of the more human traits of those running to represent us. It is easy to be steered by the negative campaigning of the parties and sleepwalk into a fascination of the trivial features of the campaign season. Ultimately, it is the voter’s responsibility to not be distracted by sensationalist media reports and look beyond illegally distributed pastry to discover the candidate who best aligns with their own views.
There’s a full list of candidates standing in Southampton and Winchester here.