Senior journalists from the Independent an i newspapers came to Bournemouth on Tuesday to debate the political chaos that is sure to follow the general election on May 7th.
i Whitehall Editor Oliver Wright chaired the debate which asked the panel is political chaos good for British democracy?
Independent on Sunday Political Editor Jane Merrick and Independent Voices Editor Simon O’Hagan both agreed with the motion, saying it would be ‘refreshing’ for the voting process, while Independent Chief Political Columnist Steve Richards disagreed.
Mr Richards claimed voters will end up more disillusioned with politics on May 8th when they realised that they wouldn’t get what they voted for, whichever of the parties they chose.
The debate focused on a number of topics including Scotland, the NHS and compulsory voting.
In a quick poll of the panel, both Ms Merrick and Mr O’Hagan thought Scotland would no longer be part of the union in 25 years, but Mr O’Hagan said he thought, in opposition to the Conservative campaign, the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition was “exciting”.
“If the SNP were in Putney, where I live, I’d vote for them,” said Mr O’Hagan.
However, Mr Richards claimed SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was still in a “honeymoon” state, adding the SNP were “riding a wave” that would soon die down.
On the NHS, the panel agreed that the campaign pledges would not be enough to save it. Mr O’Hagan thought Britain has seen the last days of the NHS, while Ms Merrick criticised the party leaders for throwing sums of money at the NHS in their campaign pledges. “If you’re going to spend billions and billions of our money, we want to know where it is being spent,” said Mr Richards.
Voter disillusionment has been a central issue of this election and one audience member asked the panel whether they agreed with compulsory voting. Mr Richards said refusing to vote is “unforgivable”.
— i newspaper (@theipaper) April 28, 2015
— Rachael Pells (@RachaelPells) April 28, 2015
Following in the theme of this election, the audience were undecided on the motion.