Election 2015: Chichester school pupil grills parliamentary candidates

Listening intently to the debate at Chichester University
Listening intently to the debate at Chichester University

DESPITE not yet being old enough to vote, Joe Foye quizzed prospective parliamentary candidates on behalf of young people at the Chichester University hustings.

The hustings event was held by the University of Chichester student union and department of history and politics.

The candidates, including speaker Oliver Dadow

The candidates, including speaker Oliver Dadow

The lively debate was hosted by politics lecturer Oliver Daddow and facing scrutiny was Labour candidate Mark Farwell, UKIP candidate Andrew Moncrieff, Jasper Richmond from the Green Party, and Lib Dem candidate Andrew Smith.

Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie was represented by Gillian Keegan, a Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for the St Helen’s South and Whiston constituency on Merseyside.

She is also a candidate in the elections for Chichester District Council, defending her seat for the Tories at Rogate.

Joe asked the candidates: “What role do you feel young people have in politics? I’m 15 so can’t vote, but I’m still concerned about issues such tax. I want to know how our views will be heard by you.”

The candidates told Joe they believed the voting age should be lowered to 16 or 17, or parties should do more to appeal to younger constituents.

Mr Smith said he was ‘in favour of extending the voting age to 16.’ Mr Moncrieff added: “I think the decline of young people in politics is to be regretted. I think we need a much more adult and serious debate so young people would be more interested and engaged.”

Mr Richmond said political engagement with young people was important to the Green Party. “Extending the vote is important - you pay tax so should be able to decide where that tax goes.”

Bishop Luffa pupil Joe said: “Despite what many believe, young people are actually interested in the world around them.

“In school most people have a view on several of the big issues such as the EU and tuition fees. The problem is they don’t know how to get that view heard by politicians, or where different parties stand on the issue.

“Hopefully this is something that can change if politicians start listening to the younger generation and take their views into account.”

Mr Moncrieff added: “I think the decline of young people in politics is to be regretted. I may be wrong but I get the impression that in most universities the politics clubs are almost nonexistent. We need to make sure we are talking about real issues. Young people get fed up of the Punch and Judy shows on television. I think we need a much more adult and serious debate so young people would be more interested and engaged.”

What are the issues that really matter to voters? Find out at What Matters To Me. Upload your own views.