St John's Question Time, which was held on Tuesday evening, appears to promise an exciting election this week, with all candidates making strong appearances. The usual heckling was seen, with all parties attacking each other whenever possible, admittedly rather well at times. Convincing points by one candidate were swiftly ripped apart by a rival, often UKIP, and so the evening went. A range of questions were posed to the candidates, ranging from their views on leaving the EU, what they would do about tuition fees, how they would attack climate change, their views on feminism and gender inequality and how they viewed austerity. All parties answered reasonably well, though sadly, in typical politician form, they avoided answering questions for which they were not well informed, thus sidestepping public embarrassment, much to the disappointment of the audience. Answers ranged from intelligent to puzzling (in the case of the Liberal Democrats), but were overall insightful and eye opening. The Greens ideas for gender equality and climate change were interesting, though their plans on how to raise money for investment and welfare were perhaps more so. Fair warning, if you are making more than £150,000 a year, prepare to be hit with the 60% tax. However their policies on scrapping tuition fees and holding banks to account for the deficit through the Robin hood tax are definitely worth checking out.
Labour held strong, even under attack from both UKIP and the Conservatives, though their failure to step away from their past threatens to damage their campaign. Mr Thornton will need to separate himself from his predecessors, as the evening showed that all the while Blair and Brown’s mistakes are kept alive in the minds of voters,Thornton doesn't stand a chance. If he does in fact manage to distance himself from the calamities of the past he may do better than expected, as the debate illustrated a strong candidate who understands his party’s aims, which is more than can be said for Mr Webb. While the Liberal Democrats were able to answer some questions successfully, on the whole Mr Webb relied too heavily on merely attacking his rivals and I left the evening unsure as to what most of his comments even meant. In comparison the Conservatives were reasonable, however Mr Laver seemed nervous, and should aim to improve his verbal skill. Regardless, the points that Mr Laver made were successfully damaging, and with the facts and figures he provided, Conservatives appeared to have a safe but promising economic policy.
Undoubtedly the candidate who stood out among the parties last night was UKIP’s Will Genzel, though if this was due to his constant interruptions and argumentative state, or his original if not bemusing comments, I could’t tell you. He balanced sensible and impressive answers on tuition, austerity and the EU with bizarre views on feminism and climate change. Puzzling and yet hilarious, Mr Genzel undoubtedly beat Mr Lotsu’s comedy by denying the very existence of global warming. According to Mr Genzel it is all a natural change and the evidence proving we are damaging our environment is merely fiction, easily overlooked for the oh so reasonable ‘evidence’ proving we’re not. While amusing, I couldn’t help but also find this a rather concerning statement, and wondered if Mr Genzel had been speaking to his fellow UKIP member who claimed the floods back in 2014 were due to legalising gay marriage. Overall the evening was very informative, with each party showing a particular strength with certain topics. While some parties undoubtedly stood out due to performance and presentation, the ultimate decision will be based on substance and it will certainly be interesting to see which parties hold up under the spotlight.
By Rebecca Barnes U6