General Election Hustings hosted at the University of Sussex
On Wednesday 18 November, the Attenborough Center for Create Arts (ACCA) hosted a General Election Hustings debate, organised by the Institute of Development Studies, the University of Sussex, and the Student’s Union, and hosted by the Politics Society.
The following candidates attended the event:
- Beatrice Bass, Liberal Democrats, Hove and Portslade
- Caroline Lucas, Green Party, Brighton Pavilion
- Joe Miller, Conservatives, Brighton Kemp Town
- Lloyd Russel-Moyle, Labour, Brighton Kemp Town
- Richard Milton, The Brexit Party, Brighton Pavilion
The debate, chaired by Professor Saul Becker (Deputy Vice-Chancellor) and Rachel Sutton (Politics Society), saw local parliamentary candidates from the Brighton area go head to head on issues such as the NHS, housing, trust in politics, local education, and of course – Brexit.
The debate was kicked off by University of Sussex student Edward Drew, who asked how politicians might restore the broken trust felt by the general public. Caroline Lucas said “telling the truth has become a radical act” in the current political climate. Richard Milton said that the lack of trust was due to the government’s failure “to enact the will of the majority”, referencing the result of the 2016 Brexit referendum. Beatrice Bass, on the other hand, said that the issue of trust was less to do with politicians and more to do with the electorate, sending a plea to the audience members to have “trust in yourself to pick the right people”.
Joe Miller said that politicians “are only human”, and that U-turns and changes of opinions might not always be a bad thing. Lloyd Russell-Moyle said that power has been taken away from politics because of repeated lies, which MP’s are ironically unable to call out due to parliamentary rules which forbids them to use the word “liar”.
The topic of the NHS saw heartfelt responses from most of the candidates, but also saw tensions spark between Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Joe Miller, and then between Richard Milton and the other panellists, as well as audience members. Most candidates spoke about the “chronically underfunded” NHS, agreed entirely on pension reforms, the restoration of nurses bursaries, and the importance of freedom of movement for people and professionals. Mr Milton of the Brexit Party rebuked the last point, and instead suggested we employ consultants to travel overseas to find skilled workers to work for NHS, describing them as “assets”. Caroline Lucas said that his stance was “immoral”, and that those skilled workers were needed in their own communities. She went on to criticise the “wasteful” internal market and continued privatisation.
Professor Becker asked: “What are your priorities after Brexit, what else do you stand for?”. Joe Miller gave a quick-fire list: the NHS, school funding, safer streets, the environment, and women’s and LGBT rights; the last two points provoked laughter from the audience. Beatrice Bass and Lloyd Russell-Moyle both spoke about the climate crisis, Richard Milton spoke about the worrying and increasing need for local food banks, while Caroline Lucas spoke about both the climate crisis and the need for a fairer voting system which would “redistribute power” to local people.
The debate closed with a topical question about the education crisis. Candidates were asked to speak about the issues facing schools in Brighton and the surrounding areas, such as an increase in poor mental health and a lack of funding. Lloyd Russell-Moyle spoke passionately against academisation, citing the protests at Moulsecoomb Primary School and urging students to join the picket line in support of teachers, parents, and students. Joe Miller spoke of the bad grades at Moulsecoomb Primary, however, he failed to acknowledge the 30% increase in grades since the first Ofsted visit. Beatrice Bass mentioned the Lib-Dem pledge to employ 20,000 more teachers, Richard Milton spoke about the need to restructure public expenditure and place the NHS and education at the top, and Caroline Lucas spoke of the teachers she met who cleaned their own schools, and brought in their own materials and food for students.
The final poll of the room saw a reverse of audience preference, with Greens gaining 51%, Labour 30%, Lib-Dem 4%, Brexit Party 10%, and Conservatives 3%.
You can visit the Electoral Commission website to find out which candidates are standing where you live. Simply visit this website, and enter your postcode:
The candidates in Brighton Kemptown are:
Graham Cushway (Brexit) Joe Miller (Conservative) Alexandra Phillips (Green) Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour) Ben Thomas (Lib Dem)
In Brighton Pavilion:
Bob Dobbs (Independent), Nigel Furness (UKIP), Emma Louise Hogan (Conservative), Adam Imanpour (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green), Richard Milton (Brexit), Citizen Skwith (Monster Raving Loony Party)
Beatrice Bass (Lib Dem), Dame Dixon (Monster Raving Loony Party), Angela Hancock (Brexit), Peter Kyle (Labour), Robert Stuart Nemeth (Conservative), Charley Sabel (Independent), Ollie Sykes (Green).
Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up article where candidates express their reasons why Sussex students should vote for them.