BU Politics Society's Question Time debate - LIVE
Bournemouth University hosts 'Question Time' debate
Five prospective candidates from Bournemouth and Poole to face questions from audience:
- Conor Burns (Conservative, Bournemouth West)
- David Young (UKIP, Poole)
- Jon Nicholas (Liberal Democrats, Bournemouth East)
- Elizabeth McManus (Green Party, Bournemouth West)
- Helen Rosser (Labour, Poole)
Issues include border control, voter engagement, Trident and Housing
27/04/15 Reverse order Timestamp format
This live blog will start at 7:25pm.
A very good evening to you all from Bournemouth University, ahead of this evening's prospective local candidates debate.
The room is filling up nicely here, with just a couple of minutes until we start.
Here's a run down of who's taking part tonight:
Conor Burns – Conservative, Bournemouth West
David Young – UKIP, Poole
Jon Nicholas – Liberal Democrat, Bournemouth East
Elizabeth McManus – Green Party, Bournemouth West
Helen Rosser – Labour, Poole
Proceedings slightly behind schedule, but we're looking to get started in the next couple of minutes.
Chair Morgan Thomas gets things started with a few ground rules. Elizabeth McManus will kick things off.
Vote for policies, not corporations. Vote for the common good, says McManus.
She says the immense surge in Greens shows just how tired the electorate have become with the current political scene.
Conor Burns opens with an address lamenting the scheduling of tonight's event, which clashes with AFC Bournemouth's crunch match tonight.
Burns said he is proud of his record having served as MP for Bournemouth West, particularly having grown relations between the existing community in the town and students.
Jon Nicholas is next, as the sole representative for the Bournemouth East constituency.
He drew comparisons to McManus' address but says those aims would be achieved through different means, while also reiterating his Liberal Democrat party's line of the need for electoral reform.
Helen Rosser offers an opening gambit that focused on the economy. Pulling focus on the deficit and the NHS, she wants to see higher living standars for working families.
David Young is the final candidate to address the audience, and said that the growing gap between the rich and the poor was a concern of his.
The first audience question concerns housing. Conor Burns defends the Conservatives' record, with 217,000 homes built in the last four years, but says the planning system needs to be made easier.
Helen Rosser attacks that view, and says that Labour would build 200,000 homes by 2017. As a renter herself, she says the party will also stop stamp duty on first time buyers and regulate landlords more aggressively.
David Young, meanwhile, draws on London's house prices, which he believes have played an integral role in creating wealth inequality and widening the 'North-South' divide, while also towing his party's line of a brownfield revolution.
A quick retort from Elizabeth McManus, though, who brings the focus back to Bournemouth. Her focus was very much on the student population, and insisted that she would help to stop the exploitation of private renters from landlords, with a cap on renting and a landlord licence to bring standards up.
Jon Nicolas also pointed to the high house prices in the area, with issues boiling down to a divide between the rich and the poor, but says he doesn't know how the problem can be solved.
We have our first audience interaction of the evening, with a gentleman raising the issue of how houses will be built with diminishing Brick manufacturing supplies and an increase in prices. Conor Burns draws on David Cameron's visit to a brick manufacturing plant in the Midlands, and the 50 new council houses that have been built in West Howe.
A couple more questions coming in. Another gentleman says that 80% of public expenditure on housing goes towards housing benefit.
Conor Burns says the previous governments' efforts were a step in the right direction but haven't yet gone far enough. In an age of austerity, where the government is still spending more in real terms than at the beginning of the term, he says that there isn't the money to launch public sector commitments to housing.
The next question comes from David Darling who asks the panel where they would base Trident outside of Scotland?
A quick retort from an audience member, who says '10 Downing Street'.
McManus is first to answer and is unequivocal in her response - which would be to scrap Trident completely.
David Young is next. While he believes Trident is difficult to justify morally, he says we live in a dangerous world and, drawing on Ukraine - who gave up its defence and is now threatened by Russia - says it would not be wise to give up our nuclear deterrent.
Nicholas differs, and says he would like to get rid of Trident. In what he describes as a now safer world, 'Mutually assured destruction is old hat', and says he can't see anyone pressing the button.
We're thrust back into the audience, with one member arguing that despite increasingly 'horrible' and technologically advanced weapons, without a nuclear deterrent we could easily have had another world war.
Nicholas replies, saying that while Drones have reduced the threat, the money spent on Trident could be better used elsewhere.
Coming back to the question asked, Burns says he would like to see a replacement and renewal of Trident.
Offering strength and resolution in defence, Trident also poses a threat to tyrants. The only panel member so far to answer the question directly, Burns says he wants Trident to stay in Scotland,because he doesn’t want the country to leave the UK.
Rosser says that Labour is for Trident, although she says we need to look at the reasons why we need weapons - the United Kingdom's handling of Middle East affairs in recent years has been worrying.
Things are promptly moved on to the third question of the evening; how can we better engage UK citizens in politics?
Addressing the student population in the room, Rosser says that the Lib Dems betrayed the trust that voters placed in them and suggests that parties should be held responsible for their pledges.
McManus argues for a reduction in the voting age to 16 to better engage young people in politics. She also believes that education on political affairs should be more widely available, while also putting forward the case for proportional representation.
Young, again making a stundent-friendly argument, says UKIP would drop fees on 'stem' subjects.
Burns says better engagement can be achieved by having better politics. He also agreed with McManus' belief for the voting age to be lowered to 16. He says the Scottish referendum showed that young people can be trusted and also said he would push for compulsory citizenship in schools.
Nicholas, agreeing with Burns, says that candidates need to be more optimistic and pro-active on what they can offer, while adding his support for votes for 16 year-olds, adding his desire to see a democratically elected House of Lords.
Burns says that - drawing on his own example - politicians are trying to engage with their electorate.
We move on to the fourth question, which comes from Bob Lister. He asks how would the candidates suggest border controls could be improved?
Chair Thomas throws the question over to UKIP's Young first, to wide-scale chortling from the audience.
Young argues that the current immigration policy is racist, and that the only way to change that is by leaving the EU.
"We're not overrun, not bankrupted, full stop."
That was McManus' view,who says that the Green Party are happy with things as they are, with migrants bringing in more to the economy than they take out.
Rosser argues that migrants need more respect.
Burns says that he does not like the tone of the debate, most come with ambition to work and contribute.
He says he was struck by the number of EU citizens working incredibly hard to look after their families, but with some feeling that it might have gone too far, says we need a fair system - although he argues that the UK should never be a country that closes its doors to asylum seekers, a point that he revisits when an audience member questions money spent on foreign aid.
Debate breaking out between the audience on this point - passionate arguments on both sides.
The final question asks where the money to fund bribes to vote for the candidates is coming from?
McMnaus says that the Green Party is not bankrolled by big money.
Burns says there is too much borrowing, and worries that future generations will pay for the mistakes of the current.
A few final points with the debate pushed for time:
- Nicholas takes an anti-borrowing stance
- Rosser argues that the money is there, but that taxes would also be increased
- Young rounds things off, arguing that UKIP is the only party to have funded fiscal plan
Chair Thomas draws the debate to a close, urging everyone in attendance to vote in ten days' time.
Reaction coming your way from tonight's events over on www.yourelection15.co.uk
In fact - here's one piece for you immediately. Our Deputy Online Editor, Hollie Wong, gives an overview of one of the major talking points from this evening's debate - that of how to better engage the electorate in politics.
Plenty of engaged members of the public here this evening though - we finished 20 minutes ago and there are still a number of people at the front of the hall speaking to the candidates.
A final piece from Hollie for now, reviewing the evening's discussion of Trident.
With the hall now empty and the last chairs stacked away that, ladies and gentlemen, is just about that for this evening's proceedings.
We hope you enjoyed the debate, and with just ten days to go until polling day, be sure to stay up to date with the latest events in the run up to the election with Your Election 15.