School of Politics and International Relations

REVIEW: The General Election student debate

On Friday 15th November the Centre of British Politics partnered with the University of Nottingham Politics Society to host a general election debate with representation from political party student groups. 

PolSoc president Alicia Carmichael reflects on the event:

As the 2019 General Election approaches, the Politics Society and Centre for British Politics (CBP) saw the opportunity to co-host a hustings-style debate with representatives from the political student groups on campus. John Hess chaired the debate in which three Political Parties were present. Tyler Pringle, President of the Conservative Society; Elizabeth Barnard, President of Liberal Democrats Society and Alex Maidment Chair of the Labour Society representing their parties. Since there exists no student societies for the other Political Parties in the Student Union, these were the only three parties represented.

 The Debate began with opening statements from the representatives providing a brief summary of why one ought to vote for their party.

 The election was called due to the deadlock in Parliament over the UK’s membership of the European Union and the failure to agree on a withdrawal deal, and therefore it has been dubbed the ‘Brexit election’. Therefore unsurprisingly, just as Brexit dominates on the campaign trail, Brexit dominated in this debate too. The Labour and Conservative representatives followed party lines on the issue with Mr Pringle backing Boris Johnson’s Brexit and the need for a departure at the earliest opportunity. Mr Maidment, much like the Labour leadership, did not give a convincing position on the issue. Meanwhile, Ms Barnard argued for stopping Brexit by revoking Article 50.

Other key moments in the debate included a question from the audience on the ability to give prisoners the right to vote which drew a blank from all three representatives. Despite the mass public attention on Climate Change, in this debate little time was given to the issue. Even with John Hess’s best efforts at eliciting attention to the issue, the student audience was more concerned with traditional issues of welfare and the economy, including Labour’s mass-nationalisation plans.

The debate ended with concluding statements reiterating each parties’ main selling points: vote for the Conservatives to ensure we leave the European Union; vote for the Liberal Democrats to ensure we do not; and vote for Labour for a welfare spending spree. In all the debate was a success with an impressive turnout and some interesting questions providing some insight and further thought for the audience.

Posted on Monday 2nd December 2019

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