Dan Squire gives us all the info from this latest exciting political visit.
After Green Party leader Natalie Bennett drew a record turnout of students, the University played host this week to a second record-breaking political talk, as an inanimate cardboard cut-out of Chancellor George Osborne filled the Forum Auditorium. Including the hundreds watching via live stream, early estimates say there were over 1,000 students tuned in, although accurate figures will not be released until early next week.
The talk was organised as part of the Conservative Party’s effort to stem the low of young voters to minority parties, although time commitments meant that the Chancellor could not attend in person, and it was deemed preferable to send a cut-out than Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
There was a buzzing atmosphere in the auditorium throughout the talk, with the most exciting discussions happening during the Q&A period. Mr Osborne was questioned on the economy, immigration, Middle East policy and Scottish independence, but deftly managed to avoid answering any of the questions at all. He remained cool and collected during questions about the Eurozone, and was unfazed when at one point he fell flat on his face, clearly showing his experience in political debates. Audience members were impressed by Mr Osborne’s ability to maintain direct eye contact with everyone in the auditorium a the same time.
Reactions to the Chancellor were mixed. Some students praised his stance on the Charlie Hebdo attacks, while others criticised the way he disappeared when he turned sideways.
“[He] had some really good points,’ said Elliot Jenkins, a second year law student. “His right elbow, for instance.”
“At first he seemed quite likeable,” said Mia Roberts, fourth year Spanish, “but it didn’t take long to realise there was no depth to his arguments.”
With the student population clearly showing their appetite for political debate, other societies are now looking into organising their own speakers, with a Nick Clegg lookalike scheduled to speak in Amory Moot in February. In the run-up to the general election, we can only expect the political tension on campus to increase. But the consensus among viewers of Osborne’s talk was that having outside speakers visit the University is very helpful in making informed voting decisions.
“I’ve seen George Osborne speak before on TV,” said James Briggs, a first year Medicine student, “but when he came to campus I really started to see him as a three-dimensional person.”
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