With just over a week to go until the General Election, pupils at Brentwood School were treated to a lively election debate on Tuesday 28th April in the Wessex Auditorium, involving four of the six parties standing in the Brentwood and Ongar constituency.
Expertly chaired by Head of Politics Mr Mike Willis, UKIP’s Mick McGough, the Liberal Democrats’ David Kendall, Labour’s Liam Preston and the Conservatives’ Eric Pickles walked in to a spontaneous round of applause from approximately 200 pupils from Brentwood School, Brentwood County High School and Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School.
Each candidate started with an opening statement, which had in each case been made relevant for a youth audience, including such issues as vocational education and what it means to be British. After that pupils were invited to ask questions. These formed a range of issues such as tuition fees, coalition possibilities, housing and the benefits system, and prompted some heavy debate, particularly between current Essex County Councillor David Kendall and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, over the housing crisis in the area and where the Conservatives’ proposed cuts in the benefits system were coming from.
UKIP’s Mick McGough faced questions on climate change and Labour’s Liam Preston was challenged by one pupil to answer where his party’s socialist principles had gone, although did end the debate by encouraging pupils to stand for election, and most of all to use their vote.
Other year groups will be holding their own hustings events next week where pupils will play the part of candidates, in the run up to one of the most exciting elections in a generation.