30 April 2015
Election Question Time event with the MP candidates
Sevenoaks School played host to the five Sevenoaks parliamentary candidates this week for an Election Question Time. Students from the school’s election committee organised the event, and were delighted when Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary and Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks, confirmed his attendance, along with his four competing colleagues. Th
Sevenoaks School played host to the five Sevenoaks parliamentary candidates this week for an Election Question Time. Students from the school’s election committee organised the event, and were delighted when Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary and Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks, confirmed his attendance, along with his four competing colleagues. The debate, which was open to everyone from the local community, was a sell-out and the candidates were treated to a packed and lively audience. Questions from the floor covered the expenditure on the NHS, plans for Trident, education policies, the role of grammar schools, and the parties’ views on the UK’s current deficit.
Michael Fallon has admitted that he used offensive language when he claimed that Ed Miliband, having‘stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader’ would also ‘stab the United Kingdom in the back’ by not renewing Trident. However, he defended his right to question a fellow politician’s character.
‘It is fair enough if people did not like the terms of what I said,’ the Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks told the hustings, but ‘character matters in anyone wanting to be Prime Minister’.
Photographs provided by Jonathan Syer. Click here to see a live stream of the event.
Speaking on the day Fallon refused to commit the Tories to supporting a minority Labour government in a vote to renew Trident, he defended the ‘rough and tumble’ of general election campaigns and pointed out that Boris Johnson had repeated the ‘backstabbing’ claim at the weekend, which has led to accusations that Fallon is peddling ‘the politics of the gutter’.
Labour candidate Chris Clark said it was right that politicians should be challenged on their actions and character, but that personal attacks have no place in politics. The question about Fallon’s comments in what has been termed a ‘car crash’ interview drew strong applause from the audience of 400.
As well as Fallon and Clark, panellists included the three other Sevenoaks candidates: Allan Bullion, Liberal Democrat; Steve Lindsay, UKIP; and Amelie Boleyn, Green. All candidates had the opportunity to respond to each question. The Election Question Time was ably chaired by Euan Tyndall (Lower Sixth) and Euan Williams (Upper Sixth).
As they left, the audience were able to buy politically branded doughnuts to show who they felt had won the debate. With 280 votes cast, the exit poll gave first place to Fallon. The results were:
Conservatives – 125 – 44.6%Labour – 50 – 17.9%Liberal Democrat – 40 – 14.3%UKIP – 33 – 11.8%Green – 32 – 11.4%
Congratulations to all the students involved in organising the event.
The school also set up an internal election committee during the months preceding the election, which has informed students on political matters and engaged them in a number of events including a lecture and Q&A by George Parker, Political Editor of the FT, a pre-election poll and the Question Time evening. The group will be carrying out a mock school election on 7 May and hope that all students will vote!