Last Thursday, the 5 candidates for the RHS election took part in a fierce -and sometimes controversial- debate on 5 key topics: education, the NHS, Brexit, the economy and the environment. This was the last attempt for the candidates to voice their opinions before the polls open in the library this Thursday.
- A crucial point of the debate was funding for policies. Labour candidate Harvey Crallan constantly asked Conservative candidate Alex Jackson how she was going to support her proposals like aiding the NHS if she was not prepared to raise taxes on the rich.
- Private schools and grammar schools were the subject of contention. Labour attacked them both for being elitist and outlined plans to scrap them; despite challenges about their importance for the economy. Brexit Party candidate Rupert Todd silenced the floor with his rebuttal of this point with his compelling and personal example of how Grammar schools were so important for his father.
- Green party candidate Josie Ruffles and Lib Dem candidate Esme Peters both stressed the importance of the goal zero carbon emissions in the UK. The Greens planned to achieve this by 2030 and the Lib Dems by 2045. This was another important aspect of the debate with both these candidates stressing that this is the biggest problem facing our generation and therefore we must strive to stop it. Rupert questioned whether they were fearmongering as he argued that climate change is not going to be a huge issue in 3 years’ time, or as he put it ‘its hardly going to rain fire’.
- Brexit was always going to be a key point of contention. The Lib Dems were questioned whether their policy of scrapping Brexit was democratic. Esme responded saying that in 2016, people didn’t know what Brexit was and they still don’t; therefore, it would be socially and economically better just to scrap it altogether. This resulted with points from Labour who said it would be better to renegotiate and then take a vote on the deal. The Conservatives and the Brexit Party both disagreed with these ideas saying almost in union that it would be better to get Brexit done rather than keep delaying it.
- Another issue that came up was the point of immigration. The Brexit Party was in favour of an Australian-style points-based system that was opposed by Labour and Lib Dems who said this was not only not fair to asylum seekers but also, meant we were picking and choosing who we admitted into the country which was unethical.
- There was always going to be controversial points within the debate. This came in the form of the Brexit party abruptly claiming in the economy debate that the gender pay gap didn’t exist. The Conservatives sparked a bit of outrage in the environment section saying that the reason they were concerned about climate change was to ensure they could still go skiing in the holidays which led to a number of groans from the audience.
- Some more comical moments also arose. The rivalry between Rupert and Esme was apparent, with both telling each other to be quiet multiple times. Harvey began his opening statement by placing his hand on his heart whilst the Soviet national blared out from the phone of an audience member. Rupert also kept to his traditional brief speeches, using his closing speech to slate everyone. He finished on the phrase about Labour saying “If you want to see socialism at work, go to Venezuela!”
I highly encourage that every one of you to carefully consider each party and its position on these issues. Think about which party best represents your views and don’t just vote for the person who you like the most or was the funniest. If you are unsure about what these polices are, then go online and read their manifestos or, the better alternative, read the interviews the Bubble did with each of the candidates. The right to vote is something everyone at this school has the opportunity to use when they turn 18 in the UK. There are many people who don’t have this privilege and therefore use your vote meaningfully. This may not be the real thing but one day it will be, so by engaging with politics now puts you in a much stronger position for the future.