Tonight’s Bournemouth University Election Question Time event covered a range of topics from housing, to Trident, to immigration.
Five prospective local MPs discussed national and local issues on the Bournemouth University campus.
Conservative prospective MP for Bournemouth West, Conor Burns, UKIP prospective MP for Poole, David Young, Liberal Democrat prospective MP for Bournemouth East, Jon Nicholas, Green Party prospective MP for Bournemouth West, Elizabeth McManus and Labour prospective MP for Poole, Helen Rosser all took part in the event.
The candidates’ opening statements were dominated by the economy. The Green Party’s Elizabeth McManus discussed the “varying shade of blue” that has dominated Dorset, while also focusing on raising the minimum wage, scraping tuition fees and phasing out fossil fuels.
Conservative prospective MP for Bournemouth West, Conor Burns chose to first joke about the timing of the event clashing with tonight’s AFC Bournemouth vs Bolton game. He went on to defend his record as the former Bournemouth West MP, citing his action on extended student visas, stopping expansion in Talbot Heath and championing Bournemouth as a leading digital economy.
Lib Dem prospective MP for Bournemouth East, Jon Nicholas spoke of his role on a local community forum that led to a political career. He admitted the former coalition had been “clumsy” and that tuition fees had hindered voters from admitting to voting Lib Dem.
Labour prospective MP for Poole, Helen Rosser spoke of how her party is the “main alternative to Conservatives” while also focusing on some of Labour’s economic policies surrounding the deficit, NHS, immigration control and the cutting of tuition fees to £6,000.
Last to make an opening statement was UKIP prospective MP for Poole, David Young who spoke of the economy’s “strangling of small businesses”. In his economicly focused statement he also discussed the importance of job opportunities, the weakening of wealth creation and the increased deficit.
The first subject discussed was housing with Burns opening the floor. He emphasised that currently “demand outstrips supply”, while reinforcing that housing will be biggest challenge facing Britain for the next 25 years.
However the discussion quickly turned to focus on the quality and affordability of housing in Bournemouth. McManus spoke of her experiences when talking to local people who are “absolutely disgusted” with the current state of housing. The topic became a question of disparity in Bournemouth with Nicholas going on to contrast the “fantastically huge properties” in Bournemouth with those found in Boscombe.
Questions from the rather vocal audience focused on the affordability of building materials and a need to create a massive public sector housing programme in order to tackle the problem.
The debate moved on to the subject of Trident. The Scotland-based nuclear programme sparked heavy discussion. To read about the discussion in more detail follow this link.
The next few topics discussed drew much attention. Candidates were asked how to encourage people to get more politically engaged, to see more on this, click here.
One of the biggest discussions of the night was on immigration. Tonight’s Chair suitably threw the question to UKIP’s Young first. He emphasised that UKIP’s policies were not racist and that we must leave the EU if we are to allow easier access for those coming to the UK not from the European Union.
McManus and Rosser took a heavy stance against Young. McManus emphasised the Green Party’s gratitude to working immigrants who are giving more to the economy than they take away, while Rosser presses that immigrants deserve more respect.
Burns described his dislike for the tone of the debate and emphasised the positive impact most immigrants make upon the UK. However tensions began to rise in the audience with a final impassioned speech by one member who did not understand how immigrants are demonised when they come to the UK but then UK nationals widely travel and live abroad.
The last question saw the candidates pushed for time; asking where the money to fund bribes to vote for the candidates is coming from.
McManus emphasises that the Green Party are not bankrolled by big money, while Burns says there is too much borrowing and worries that future generations will pay for the mistakes of the current. Nicholas takes an anti-borrowing stance, Rosser argues that the money is there, but that taxes would also be increased, while Young rounds things off, arguing that UKIP is the only party to have funded fiscal plan.
Here’s a round up of some of tonight’s best tweets about the BU Question Time event.
general election debate was awesome tonight, makes me wish i'd got more involved with politics at uni #YourElection15
— Katie Hyde-Coppock (@katiehydec) April 27, 2015
— Bournemouth Uni (@bournemouthuni) April 27, 2015
— Liss Bult (@lissbult) April 27, 2015
— Chloe S-Wilson (@SubuPresident) April 27, 2015