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Comment at the Cross-Party ‘Debate’ with Tweets


Members from Socialist Students, Labour Students, Conservative Future, Liberal Democrats and Freedom Society came together in the Amory Moot Room for an ill-tempered debate.

The first topic up for debate was the recent student protests and the treatment from the police.

Representing Conservative Future, Chris Carter argued that these protesters were people just having a good time but Marcel Golten, representing Socialist Students, thought it was much more than that, pointing out that these students have a right to protest and were furious about the privatisation of students’ debt. Ed Jones of Labour Students remarked that the police’s response was out of order and that they were heavy handed.

A comment that got at least half of the audience a chuckle or two. Not that they were the most diverse group.

The second question was based around education reform. Golten believed that there is little difference between the two main parties, Labour and Conservatives, going on to add that free school policies are a stupid idea and the government should listen to the experts.

Alex Whattam, representing the Liberal Democrats (again, because they couldn’t find a second speaker) said that a lack of spending was the problem when it came to education. He is also still against the idea of tuition fees. Steadman believed the reforms were sensible and should go some way to improving standards.

Jones defended Labour’s record in government, citing an 11.9% rise in teachers and a cap on class sizes. Carter pointed out that there had been no rise in standards under Labour and that radical reforms were most definitely needed.

 The top rate of income tax was also subject to heated debate. Carter thought that a cut made economic sense, incentivising investment and employment and therefore boosting growth. Jones thought that a cut in the top rate of tax would not be fair. He went on to remind the audience that Labour had left office with the economy growing.

Golten believed that austerity was hitting the poorest hardest and that it would be disgraceful to give a tax cut to the very richest in our society. Whattam was quiet on the issue, stating that the tax was purely ideological.

On the question of the UK’s place in the EU, Golten argued that it was a decision to be made by the British people. Steadman backed this claim, stating that it had been two generations since we’d had the chance to vote on the issue. Tensions rose.

Carter pointed out that a bill to make a referendum in the future compulsory was proving difficult considering the lack of a Conservative majority in parliament.

Jones remarked that it was in Britain’s interest to stay within the European Union for both economic and social reasons. The debate was arguably losing some dignity at this point.

On the subject of bedroom tax, Alex Whattam found that the idea seemed fair and that councils can give money to those in desperate need. Steadman similarly agreed with the principle, stating that we need a larger supply of houses. He argued that families should be prioritised. Where this property was to be developed was a topic that had already caused some tension earlier in the debate.

Carter said it was a sensible policy and that measures were in place to deal with the most vulnerable.

On the issue of whether the recent flooding in the South West could be attributed to climate change, the panel was unanimously in agreement that climate change was to blame, although Carter made sure to blame Labour for not dredging the rivers.

This may not have gained him any new friends in the audience.

We would like to apologise if we missed anything from this debate, it was difficult to get everything taken down with the almost constant bickering between panelists and jeers, whistles and heckles from the audience. Credit to the chair, Jon Andrew, for stepping in at short notice and doing his best to keep a handle on things. All panelists did well to field a variety of non-prerehearsed questions. Not that this means it was a successful debate on all counts.

Dave Reynolds and James Bennett, Online Comment Editors.

Were you at the debate? Is this an accurate version of events? Leave a comment below or write to the Comment team at the Exeposé Comment Facebook Group or on Twitter @CommentExepose.

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