Local candidates grilled on tuition fees and feminism

The bloke from UKIP Wavertree was a no show

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Fierce Liverpool students laid into local candidates this week about tuition fees and feminism at the SU husting event.

The event, hosted by the Guild, SU and Hope SU, put local parliamentry candidates in front of an audience of locals and students (and Harry Anderson).

Each constituency had a representative from the expected political parties, including an independent representative, Niamh McCarthy.

But the UKIP representative for Wavertree had better things to do.

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Candidates vying for the Riverside and Wavertree constituencies were also grilled about healthcare and austerity.

Here are the highlights of what the panelists had to say on issues directly relating to us.

Tuition fees – where do you stand?

Question posed to the Riverside constituency.

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Martin Dobson for the Greens Riverside, in his infamous luminous green blazer, said what every student wants to here: “We will abolish tuition fees and have a higer education that’s free for all. As well as that, we will offer grants for living expenses to enable a free education for everyone”

UKIP representative Joe Chiffers, who was notably more nervous than all the other candidates, took a different stance of tuitions fees. He said: “The deficit has increased so much so that we will abolish tuition fees for those students studying subjects in which there is a national shortage, like Medicene and Engineering”.

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Greens & UKIP

Louise Ellman, Labour rep said: “We will decrease tution fees from £9,000 down to £6,000. This is a very specific promise… we are ready to do this.”

Jackson Ng for the Riverside Conservatives stood by the current system: “It would be great if higher education was free but sadly in this world it can’t be. We currently have a fair and sustainable way for students to re-pay their loans if they are earning a certain amount. This has dramatically increased the number of applicants into universities.”

Tony Mulhearn from the TUSC Party, who described himself as a “born and bred” in Liverpool, was absolutley for the abolishment of tuition fees. He said, “We totally oppose tuition fees. It will cost the goverment £8 billion a year to abolish them and a further £5 billion to cover grants. We are willing to pay that £13 billion a year to fund free education.

Women – which party will push the hardest for equality?

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TUSC Wavertree candidate Dave Walsh focused on equality for all genders and classes in his response: “Our £10 an hour minimum wage would apply to all and help improve issues in the work places amongst the working classes as well as genders”.

Green rep for Wavertree was apalled at the inequality of the genders that still exists today, describing the inequality of pay as “ridiculous” and saying, “there is a long way we still need to go”.

Leo Evans, current Liverpool Uni student, for the LibDems put it simply, “We need to get more women involved in politics”.

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Both Labour reps believed that their party is the most active in women’s rights. Candidate Luciana Berger strongly emphasised that Labour was the only party with a specific sector dedicated to women. She also informed the audience of a detailed Women’s Manifesto available online.

Independent candidate Niamh, stood out from the panel with her response: “I am standing for young people as an example of how easy it is to stand. I want to represent women, the LGBT community and other minorities”.

Conservative candidate James Pearson unconvincingly focused on the history of the Conservative party and it’s female supporters. He said, “Women have gernerally supported the conservative party”.

UKIP Riverside triggered a murmer of laughter across the lecture theatre when he said, “UKIP see people as individuals”.

The NHS – how would you envisage the healthcare system for Liverpool students?

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LibDem rep Leo caused hysterics among the panellists and the audience with his response – and not in a good way. He said, “We have a new Royal Hospital in the City thanks to the Liberal Democrats [cue laughter]. We are the only party to have a fully accounted for manifesto to provide the NHS with the £8 billion in extra unding that they themselves have asked for”.

Luciana for the Labour party mentioned issues explictly relevant to students like sexual and mental health. She emphasised the importance of the NHS and its services to students.

Niamh, perhaps the only candidate to give an adequate repsonse to the question, said “Students away from home are hit especially hard by the struggles to get an appointment with a GP”, she went on to explain that this was a key issue amongst students with healthcare.

When the UKIP candidate was asked for a repsonse, he began with: “All students, well, those of you that turn up to lectures…”, to which every student in the room switched off. We’ve heard it a million times pal. Get a new line.

Austerity – you know the drill

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The only repsonse worth reporting was that from the Independent candidate. She said, “I am really not an economist and this isn’t an issue i have a strong manifesto on but lets tax football transfers and use the money to invest into our NHS.”