NewVIc hosts hustings for first time voters
PUBLISHED: 17:46 22 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:34 01 May 2015
As a sixth form college, NewVIc has plenty of first time voters on its books. Now, thanks to a hustings event held especially for students, many of them will be closer to making a decision about where to put their cross on May 7.
Chaired by the Prince Regent Lane college’s prinicipal, this afternoon’s hustings saw candidates from six political parties speak about what they were standing for and answer questions from the students.
The two West Ham candidates taking part were Festus Akinbusoye, of the Conservatives, and Liberal Democrat Paul Reynolds, while the East Ham constituency was represented by Labour’s Stephen Timms, TUSC’s Lois Austin, Green Party candidate Tamsin Omond and Ukip’s Daniel Oxley.
The hustings began with the candidates making an opening speech, many telling young people to use their vote.
Mr Akinbusoye told the students that “politics affects all of you”, while Ms Omond said they should “find their political voice.”
The session, which saw more than 100 students attend, then moved on to questions from the audience.
The first question, on tuition fees, saw Mr Timms pledge to reduce the cap from £9,000 to £6,000 should Labour return to power.
Mr Akinbusoye countered this by saying Labour were the ones to introduce tuition fees during a previous spell in government and that the changes during the coalition actually made it more affordable for students by increasing the wage threshold at which repayments have to be made.
Mr Reynolds – defending his party’s pledge for free university places in the 2010 manifesto – said that the Liberal Democrats will make certain subjects that link to areas with a skills shortage free for students.
The second discussion, on climate change, saw Ms Austin say that the first step in tackling the issue is tackling the problem of the big multinational companies.
Countering claims that an independent Britain could not tackle climate change, Mr Oxley said that it was “a global issue, we don’t need to huddle in the EU.”
Ms Omond said that “climate change is what got me into politics” and that her party opposed fracking and creating new power stations.
The discussion then moved on to each candidate being asked a question specifically about their party, with issues including British values, economic policy differences and whether parties could be trusted, before a final question to all candidates about immigration.
Mr Playfair said afterwards that he was “delighted” with the number of students who had turned up to the event, which was organised by politics teacher Rob Behan.
He said: “Holding a hustings was something that we have always wanted to do.
“It showed our students that there is a real diversity in politics and it held their attention for nearly two hours, which was good.”