Harrogate school’s take on the election

St John Fisher students Francesco Pili, Stephen Culpin, William Maturi-Bailey, Eleanor Churchill, and Maria Bell representing the main parties in a mock election debate. (S)
St John Fisher students Francesco Pili, Stephen Culpin, William Maturi-Bailey, Eleanor Churchill, and Maria Bell representing the main parties in a mock election debate. (S)

With a different take on the general election in a week’s time, student at St John Fisher have held their own Question Time.

Today, five sixth form students represented the main parties standing for election on May 7 and faced a grilling from their fellow pupils.

There will follow a mock election day vote, in a bid to ensure students get into the habit of exercising their democratic right.

Tom Best, Head of history and politics, said: “This was the final stage in a year long programme of visits by political figures and visits to parliament in order to raise political awareness amongst our students.

“Next year, we intend to run trips both to Westminster and Brussels to capitalise on the political enthusiasm of our students.”

Teacher John Sharpe, who moderated the event, said: “We have had all the candidates in and we are replicating the election and question time with sixth formers representing the parties.

“If votes are brought in at 16 next time, potentially every student in the school now will be able to vote in the next election, so we want to encourage them to do that.”

Francesco Pili represented UKIP, Stephen Culpin the Conservatives, William Maturi-Bailey the Lib Dems, Eleanor Churchill Labour, and Maria Bell the Green Party.

In the opening statements, Miss Bell said: “We can create a caring society.

“Inequality causes shorter and unhappy lives and we do better when we are equal, which is why the Green Party intends to create a more democratic, more equal society.

“We believe in tackling climate change and taking action to limit our emissions.”

Miss Churchill said: “We plan to tackle the debt and balance the books, create an economy for the many and not for the few, and undo the damage the Tory Party has created.”

Mr Maturi-Bailey said: “We want to secure the economy, reduce the amount of money the government borrows, we want to have fair taxes, we want to provide our NHS with £8bn and we want to give equal opportunities to every child.”

Mr Culpin said: “Five years ago our country was in economic turmoil, I say this is thanks to Labour.

“People were out of work and economic growth was at rock bottom levels. In the last five years we have created 760,000 new businesses and the deficit has been halved as a proportion of GDP.”

Mr Pili said: “For much of this nation’s political history it has been dominated by the establishment.

“UKIP offers something new, it offers the chance to leave the undemocratic European Union. We don’t want this EU flag, we don’t want this EU anthem, and we definitely don’t want this EU army. We want out.”

Questions were asked on political responses to natural disasters, how the parties would commit to engaging young people in politics, and what they would do to tackle gender inequality.

Students also asked about backsliding mental health funding, the costing of proposed reforms, and how politicians can make sure the economic recovery benefits the whole country.

The poverty crisis, housebuilding, public transport costs, scapegoating immigrants, and the cost of Trident were also issues that were addressed.

There followed closing speeches.

Mr Pili said: “We can take back our country. The Purple Revolution has only just begun.”

Mr Culpin said: “Britain can do so much better. Vote Conservative.”

Mr Maturi-Bailey said: “We are looking to create a fairer recovery.”

Miss Churchill said: “Labour plans to create higher living standards for working families.”

Miss Bell said: “The Green Party believes in a fair society and equality with a good standard of life.”

In other election news, Year 13 student Tom Dean was chosen to ask one of the questions at the BBC Question Time Leaders Special, filmed at Leeds Town Hall tonight.