Our MP candidates agree on everything
With the election coming, we held a debate at the Keble O’Reilly with your MP candidates so that they could persuade you to vote for them.
But those looking for confrontation were left surprised: unexpectedly, the candidates were in agreement on most issues, ranging from electoral reform to social housing.
You can watch the full debate here, and read our summary below.
The candidates urged students not to vote tactically, with Labour’s Sally Copley deeming tactical voting “a mug’s game” and that the system was “broken”.
The other parties followed suit, arguing for electoral reform in the form of proportional representation, with UKIP claiming PR would help them utilise their 15% of the vote.
This was the form that much of the evening took: general agreement between the parties. Even when asked what separated the parties and candidates, it seemed difficult to distinguish them.
They all favoured electoral reform, most favoured doing away with Trident, and furthering devolution.
And of course, they all also think that the media is biased against them.
One area of discussion which all parties seemed to agree on was with regards to no platform policies – all felt they weren’t a good idea. The Lib Dems emphasised the need for the freedom to offend, and the Greens said universities were a place to have your opinions challenged.
UKIP, meanwhile, dubbed such policies patronising, saying that some people would deem the O’Reilly Theatre unsafe because of his presence – though he’s “actually a lovely person”.
There was interesting disagreement with the party line. Copley, for example, didn’t agree with Labour’s plan to continue Trident. And Green candidate Ann Duncan claimed she didn’t agree with the party’s line on Scotland.
UKIP’s Ian Macdonald did separate from the rest of the pack with some of his comments. He was the only one who favoured the renewal of Trident, claiming that when Russia has its finger on the button, nuclear weapons will provide a successful deterrent.
UKIP were also strictest on welfare, sensationally claiming “If you can sit and watch TV all day, then you can sit at a desk and work” when discussing people “a woman who couldn’t work because she was overweight”. Ann Duncan from the Greens, however, said that the vast majority on benefits are in work but that work didn’t pay well enough. She dubbed the benefit reforms “disgusting”.
There was UKIP and Green agreement, however, on building homes, and both were also very keen to have a referendum on the EU (though they did want different outcomes).
All parties thought more young people needed to vote in what is looking to be the most important election for a generation.
When asked whether they would demolish colleges in favour of council houses, the Lib Dem candidate, Alasdair Murray said “no, but we could probably get rid of Bicester Village”.
So what did we learn? The Lib Dems put emphasis on civil liberties and freedoms, the Green Party see themselves as the party of the future, Labour will reverse the bedroom tax, and Ian MacDonald said that we shouldn’t feel unsafe around him because he’s actually a lovely person.
The Conservatives declined an invitation to take part in our debate.
All the parties were very clear to remind us that this was a once in a generation opportunity to have our voices heard. The election is on May 7th – the takeaway message was to have your voice heard and vote for what you believe in. Sally Copley said she’d rather you voted for UKIP than didn’t vote at all. Food for thought…