Local MPs, politicians and councillors attended Bournemouth University for an open debate about youth voter engagement.
Conor Burns MP, Tobias Ellwood MP and Clare Moody MEP were among a number of local politicians who attended the event to speak with students about the importance of engaging with politics.
The keynote speech was conducted by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett over Skype, following an interview she did for Channel 4.
The event, titled ‘Election 2015: does your vote count?’, included a ‘speed voting’ session where students from local schools, as well as Bournemouth University, could hear short pitches from political parties about what they believed in before casting their vote for the party they would be most likely to vote for.
A Question Time-style debate was then organised to give the students a chance to grill the politicians about issues that mattered to them most. Topics brought up by the students included the increase in tuition fees, the current state of our education system and why the national debt is so high.
The debate then reversed, with the MPs and prospective party candidates (PPCs) then invited to ask students questions.
Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns said of the event, “These sorts of events are massively important and when young people are increasingly disengaged from party politics but are massively engaged on issues within politics its incumbent upon Members of Parliament and candidates to go to where the young people are rather than expect them to come to us.
“Representing the large majority of BU, as I do, representing not just physical buildings of BU but also the students who live in Winton and Charminster and elsewhere, I take the view that everyone that comes to Bournemouth and lives in my constituency is as much my constituent if they are here for three or four years than if they are born here, have their family here and die here. I think today is a good example of how we can come together and demonstrate that in person.”
One of the organisers of the event, Lydia Keys, a Politics and Media student said, “We didn’t realise how big it was going to be. The turnout has been fantastic. We thought that people might come but they might not find the politics too interesting but the success of the event has been so good – we’ve had a lot of good feedback. It’s nice to see the local politicians being so involved with students and taken an interest with the young electorate.”
Lydia finished by telling all students to, “make sure you register to vote and be ready to vote because your vote does matter and your vote does count.”
The event was the first in a series of 2015 Election events to be organised and filmed by Bournemouth University students. The students are also due to provide live coverage for the Election night itself.
To watch a video of the day, produced by students from the Faculty of Media and Communication, head to the students’ YouTube page.