A student-led hustings welcomed five parliamentary candidates to Talbot Campus this week.
The question time debate was organised and chaired by students from BU Politics Society and invited students, staff and members of the public to put questions to five parliamentary candidates.
Prospective MPs representing each of the main parties in Bournemouth East and Bournemouth West made up the panel; Elizabeth McManus from the Green Party, David Young from UKIP, Jon Nicholas from the Liberal Democrats, Helen Rosser from Labour and Conor Burns representing the Conservative Party.
The hustings was chaired by first year politics student Morgan Thomas who invited audience members to submit questions in advance of the debate. Each candidate was given three minutes to convince the audience why they should vote for their party followed by questions from the audience put to each panellist.
Hot topics for the evening included immigration, affordable housing and house prices, and where Trident should be based if it were to be moved out of Scotland. Audience interaction and occasional baiting of the candidates made for a heated debate.
Another topic which arose was the issue of how to engage voters and combat political apathy in the electorate. The argument for reducing the voting age to 16 was supported by some candidates while Conor Burns argued for “better politics” and using positive campaigning over campaigns based on attacking other parties. When asked about voter engagement after the event, Green Party prospective MP, Elizabeth McManus said, “My main message to people is vote. I almost don’t mind who you vote for, I just want you to vote. I want you to care, I want you to make a difference. I don’t want to see that huge proportion of non-voters.”
When asked about educated young people about politics, she went on to say, “It’s not about promoting parties, it’s about understanding what parties stand for but fundamentally how politics works and why you should be involved in it. It’s about getting children and young adults to care about politics enough to vote and enough to take an interest.”
The evening’s chair, Morgan Thomas, who is also a member of BU’s Politics Society, spoke after the event about the importance of politics on campus, “It’s obviously good to come onto campus. As you saw in the audience today you had a good mixture of older people, younger people and middle-aged. I think it’s a good neutral background and it provided us, as we saw today, with some good and decent discussion.”
The debate was part of a bigger campaign led by BU students called Your Election 2015 and was the second hustings to be hosted on campus. The student coverage of the elections includes written features, interviews, blogs and video on the Your Election 2015 website. It will culminate in live broadcasting across radio, television and web streaming through the night as the votes are counted in on Thursday 7 May.