Pupils get insight into politics at Oakham hustings

The hustings event at Oakham School on Tuesday, April 21. Pictured are Alastair McQuillan (green), Sir Alan Duncan (Con), Ed Reynolds (Lib Dem) and Richard Billington (UKIP). Photo: Elli Dean.
The hustings event at Oakham School on Tuesday, April 21. Pictured are Alastair McQuillan (green), Sir Alan Duncan (Con), Ed Reynolds (Lib Dem) and Richard Billington (UKIP). Photo: Elli Dean.

Pupils from across Rutland took part in a lively hustings debate held at Oakham School on Tuesday.

Four of the parliamentary candidates for the Rutland and Melton constituency, Sir Alan Duncan (Con), Alastair McQuillan (Green), Ed Reynolds (Lib Dem), and Richard Billington (UKIP) attended.

James Moore (Lab) was invited but did not attend and Marilyn Gordon (Ind) was also not there.

The hustings began with a one-minute introduction from candidates, providing a summary of their political ideology and highlighting their personal connections to the constituency.

Mr Reynolds described how he was new to politics and asked the audience to “go easy” on him, whilst the current MP, Sir Alan, described how after 23 years he still very much wanted to continue to represent the 
area.

Mr Billington described how he was “looking at the future” and Mr McQuillan told pupils this was “your chance to have your voice”.

The floor was then opened up to questions from the audience, where each of the candidates had a chance to reply, but only for one 
minute.

A spokesman for the school said this tried and tested format worked really well to keep the debate interesting for the pupils in attendance.

A wide variety of issues were covered with candidates quizzed both on their plans 
for the area, and on their party’s plans for the whole country.

The topics included how the parties intended to repay the country’s debt, whether the parties intended to spend enough money on the NHS, what their position is on the EU, migrants and Trident, as well as what can be done to keep up a belief in the political system.

One pupil asked: “As a young voter, what single policy do you have that should be my reason for voting for your party?”

Mr Reynolds said his party’s plans for education are at the centre of their manifesto and Mr McQuillan stated the removal of university tuition fees would give all pupils a right to education.

Both the Conservative and UKIP candidates gave broader answers. Mr Billington offered “truth and transparency”, while Sir Alan offered “confidence and stability”.

The audience was made up of pupils studying politics and those with an interest in politics from Oakham School, Rutland County College and Uppingham School.

Also in the audience were candidates for Oakham School’s mock election, which is currently underway and will culminate the day before the real election on May 7.

There will also be elections for Rutland County Council and town and parish councils on the same 
day.