RGS Hosts Political ‘Question Time’
Politics was brought to life at RGS on Monday 22 May as five local parliamentary candidates for the Reigate Constituency came to answer questions on aspects of their parties’ manifestos at RGS’s Student Question Time. The panel consisted of Crispin Blunt (Cons.), Toby Brampton (Labour), Anna Tarrant (Lib. Dems.), Jonathan Essex (Green) and Joseph Fox (UKIP). It was chaired by Angus McGilligan and Benedict Springbett, two RGS lower sixth formers and politics enthusiasts. The panel took questions from students on a broad range of topics including the Brexit campaign, the international migrant crisis, house prices and wage disparity, tuition fees, grammar schools and the legal minimum voting age.
A particular highlight was Thomas Box’s question on Tuition Fees and whether labour’s manifesto to scrap them was a genuine and realistic pledge. Naturally, he had a very captive audience, with the majority of students looking to go onto University when they finish their school careers. Toby Brampton, Labour, of course defended his party’s manifesto, claiming that the tuition fees and resultant debt cause unnecessary stress and mental health issues, whilst every other candidate, even the Lib Dems, advocated it was unrealistic and the country simply can’t afford it. Crispin Blunt claimed it was “economic nonsense” to say you can scrap these fees, whilst Jonathan Essex from the Green party wants to push the burden onto corporations, who he claims, ultimately benefit from the education that university students receive.
Mia Forton, a lower sixth form Reigation asked the panel their opinion on the legal minimum voting age and whether they thought it should be lowered to 16, in light of the youth’s disgruntlement with the Brexit outcome. Both Toby Brampton (Labour) and Anna Tarrant (Lib Dems) were in favour of lowering the age to 16 with the labour candidate advocating the teaching of democracy in Schools, not just politics. Crispin Blunt (Conservatives) on the other hand claims 18 is the right age and on the matter of Brexit disgruntlement, he wants our younger generation to be citizens of the whole world, not just Europe.
Speaking after the event, Mr Haskey, teacher of Politics and History said
“The highlight for me was the informal conversations where our students mingled and chatted to the candidates on an individual basis. This unique opportunity allowed our students to confidently talk to the candidates and as a result some have now volunteered to work on the respective election campaigns.”
“we would like to thank all the candidates, they spoke with passion and it is apparent that they all genuinely care about politics and the local community.”