MP candidates grilled by college students

General Election Debate at Sussex Downs College, 19/3/15. SUS-150320-161354001
General Election Debate at Sussex Downs College, 19/3/15. SUS-150320-161354001
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Students at Sussex Downs College quizzed Eastbourne and Willingdon parliamentary candidates ahead on the election on May 7.

The hustings debate proved young people do care about politics, and saw the Park Theatre at the Eastbourne campus full to the brim.

Sitting MP Stephen Lloyd (Liberal Democrat), was joined by Caroline Ansell (Conservative), Jake Lambert (Labour), Andrew Durling (The Green Party) and Nigel Jones (UKIP).

Topics on the agenda included tuition fees, jobs, young people in politics, and whether their should be military action in the Middle East.

The hour-long hustings saw students across all courses attend, with one performing arts student quizzing Caroline Ansell on her concern about Conservatives cuttings the arts budget.

One student asked if parties should be gearing more policies towards the younger demographic rather than focussing on older people.

Thirty per cent of young adults aren’t currently registered to vote. We’re looking to change that statistic here in East Sussex.

Sussex Downs College spokesperson

Mrs Ansell (Cons) said she wants more young people to stand for election which will help parties to engage with young people, and said there are several young people in the rea standing for the Conservative Party in the Eastbourne area.

Mr Durling (Green) said it was a ‘fallacy’ to say young people are disengaged with politics, but said they do not have a voice in parliament. He said The Green Party could change that.

Mr Lambert (Labour) said the younger generation is facing a ‘profound challenge’ in terms of jobs and housing, and said this is something the Labour Party solve with their policies, which include scrapping letting agent fees.

Mr Lloyd (Lib Dem) said it is a frustration of his that parties make policies for older people because they know they vote. He urged young people to vote in order to make a difference and said ‘if you don’t turn up you get ignored’.

Mr Jones (UKIP) said his party is strongly in favour of apprenticeships and getting young people into work, and said young people are ‘sick and tired of the rotten and corrupt establishment parties in government’.

A college spokesperson said, “Thirty per cent of young adults aren’t currently registered to vote. We’re looking to change that statistic here in East Sussex.” After the debate 85 per cent of the students who came along said they would vote in the general election, with nine per cent saying they wouldn’t and six per cent unsure.

The students also cast their votes after the debate, with 33 per cent saying they would vote Labour, 24 per cent for Lib Dem, 15 per cent for the Green Party, four per cent for UKIP and two per cent for Conservative. A further 22 per cent were unsure.

Mr Lambert said, “Great debate at Sussex Downs today. Passionate, funny and articulate people making their voices heard (the students I mean...).”

See the Herald and Gazette’s website for a video of the hustings event, at www.east
bourneherald.co.uk