Ipswich General Election candidates quizzed by young people at school’s Question Time-style debate
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich’s General Election candidates faced a stern grilling from students at Northgate Sixth Form this morning in a Question Time-style debate.
Conservative Ben Gummer, Labour’s Sandy Martin, Lib Dem’s Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Green Party’s Charlotte Armstrong and UKIP’s Tony Gould were quizzed in the school’s library in front of a packed audience of politically interested teenagers.
The students took the candidates to task over a wide range of issues, including crime, voting age and Brexit but it was tuition fees which led the debate.
Mr Gummer said the fees had led to an increase in the number of university places and had pushed universities to attract a broader range of people across the class spectrum while Mr Martin said Labour had made a ‘big bold promise to get rid of tuition fees altogether’.
Mr Hyyrylainen-Trett said we should stick with the current system with fees seen as a graduate tax whereas Mrs Armstrong said her party would scrap them as well as bringing in maintenance grants and bursaries. Mr Gould said universities should focus on STEM subjects and that the Government should provide subsidies to attract more students to take them.
However, a few eyebrows were raised when the debate turned to crime after Mr Gould suggested people who carry knives on the streets are more likely to come from single parent families.
Following the debate, 17-year-old Lola Caston-Hawkes said she was from a single parent family herself and had been shocked by the comment.
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“It was what you would have expected to hear in the 1950s,” she said.
Towards the end of the debate the audience were asked for a show of hands of who is eligible to vote on June 8 and then of those who had registered.
A sea of hands went up for both questions, a promising sign that young people are keen to take part and have their say on the country’s future.
Student Andrew Reynolds, 18, said: “It is so important people get a voice.
“I am glad all the candidates came in, even those who may not get votes from young people.”
Thomas Floodgate, 18, added: “This election is so vital because we were not given a say in the EU referendum. The debate was crucial in cutting through the political manifestos.”