While national elections were taking place on Thursday 7 May, pupils hurried to makeshift ballot boxes on the School’s quadrangle to vote for the party of their choice in the mock elections being held at St John’s. A full spectrum of political views was heard, with one pupil standing for each of the mainstream parties: UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, Labour, Conservatives and Green.
The previous days saw a flurry of activity around the School’s site. A TV-style live debate, chaired by Mr Lotsu, took place among the candidates on the Tuesday evening, flyers were distributed around the School’s Dining Hall the following day and on Wednesday afternoon hustings took place in the Performing Arts Centre, attended by over 400 pupils.
During the TV-style debate, an audience of pupils typified the new generation of discerning voters, bombarding candidates with questions: What was their position on leaving the EU? How did they view austerity? How they would attack climate change? What was their stance on gender inequality? In a debate characterised by heckling and humour, the five pupils under the spotlight demonstrated their developing political astuteness, answering some questions well and skilfully sidestepping others.
Once the mock polling stations had closed on Thursday afternoon the ballots were counted. The final results were as follows:
Liberal Democrats: Alex Webb (Lower Sixth, West House) - 326 votes UKIP: Will Genzel (Upper Sixth, Churchill House) - 90 votes Conservatives: Will Laver (Lower Sixth, Surrey House) - 63 votes Labour: Sam Thornton (Lower Sixth, Churchill House) - 41 votes Greens: Rebecca Floyd (Lower Sixth, Haslewood House) - 31 votes
All candidates should be congratulated on their involvement, but so too should the other pupils. Perhaps the most important result, then, is the last one. Comments from leading politicians at the time of the last general election expressed dismay that young people did not show an interest in politics. This final statistic shows that, at St John’s, quite the opposite is true.