JC6 Hustings

Students at John Cleveland Sixth Form Centre heard from their local Hinckley and Bosworth parliamentary candidates last Wednesday during their Hustings event. Ahead of the general election on Thursday 12th December, where many Sixth Form students will be voting for the first time, the centre arranged for Dr Luke Evans of the Conservatives, Mick Gregg of the Green Party, Rick Middleton of the Labour Party and Michael Mullaney of the Liberal Democrats to respond to students’ questions. The third debate of its kind at JC6 was chaired by Mr Tim Dutchman, who teaches Philosophy at the College.

In front of a packed audience the candidates began by giving students an introduction to their backgrounds. Students learnt that all candidates are heavily investing in supporting local initiatives due to all being local residents, Dr Luke Evans is a GP who recently moved back to the area, Mr Mullaney has been a local councillor for many years, Mr Gregg regularly works on educational projects with young people and that Mr Middleton is in fact a previous John Cleveland College student.

Following the introductions, Mr Dutchman invited candidates to outline their main policies, where, despite disagreement on whether to lower the voting age, all candidates agreed that their long-term focus is climate change, while their short-term focus is Brexit. As well as these topics, students were encouraged to raise issues that matter to them during the event, posing questions on free school meals, international aid, political marketing tactics and student finance. Including the challenging questions, “What do you think the UK should do to support other countries suffering from natural disasters?” and “Are you actually going to do the things you say you are going to do?”

Public Services student Kane said, “I found speaking to the representatives very insightful. The information provided by the local MP’s has allowed me to enhance my knowledge and understanding of party policies.”

The event saw a lively debate take place, with friction between party representatives’ policies showing their passion and reinforcing to students why understanding party manifestos and that voting for a party whose ideas they believe in is crucial. The candidates did all agree that events like these are essential to get young people involved in politics and to get their voices heard, commented how much they enjoyed the debate and meeting students.

Head of Sixth Form Ms Paterson said that she was “delighted that all the candidates could find time in their busy election campaigns to speak with students. Events of this kind have a huge role in developing political awareness and it was great to see the whole room engaged and entertained by the debate.”