An audience of students provided the questions as Bexhill College hosted a General Election hustings on Friday, May 26 for the Bexhill and Battle constituency.
The debate was attended by four of the five candidates; Huw Merriman (Conservatives), Christine Bayliss (Labour), Joel Kemp (Liberal Democrats) and Jonathan Kent (Green Party). UKIP candidate Geoffrey Bastin was unable to attend.
Each participant answered tough questions as the students focused on education funding, poverty, national debt, internationalism, security, transport and community cohesion.
Leon Freeman is currently preparing for his forthcoming A Level exam in Politics. He said: “The hustings were very insightful despite the argumentative nature of the panel. It was good to hear their different and stimulating views.”
There were points of contention and questions that frequently divided opinion on the panel. Funding for education is an issue that students wanted to raise and one of the questions asked whether pupils and schools would still be vulnerable.
Mrs Bayliss referenced a report containing data released this year (www.schoolcuts.org.uk) and claimed not a single school in the constituency would avoid cuts by 2022 under current plans. She said Labour would fight cuts but Bexhill College was set to lose more than £666,000 – the most in the constituency – which would be the equivalent of 17 full-time teachers losing their job.
Mr Merriman quoted the Conservative manifesto which pledges 10 per cent of the budget being spent on education, with record funding and an extra £4billion added over the next Parliament.
The Liberal Democrats would go further and put an extra £7billion into education and invest heavily in apprenticeships, said Mr Kemp.
Mr Kent said the Green Party sees education as an investment instead of a cost as the students will become the future working population.
Luke Flanagan, teacher of Politics, said: “The hustings were a great opportunity for the students to hear from four of the party candidates standing in Bexhill and Battle. The event showed that young people are really engaged in politics; it produced a heated debate about current policy issues and the record of the Conservative government.”
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