The Big Question Time Event at Kingston University

Bauke Schram March 31 20156:00 pm

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Bauke Schram March 31 20155:58 pm

“I hope whoever gets elected takes the student voice very seriously,” Amy Bush signs off the event.

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Peter and Amy, who organised the series of events, give a little thank you to the audience.

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Godfrey says the designers had done a great deal to make the new Town House (the development in question), appealing to residents.

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Keogh mentions the tension between residents and students.

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“I don’t really stop talking about it,” Keogh says about KU, after it is asked where the university stands in the parties’ manifestos.

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“The townhouse development is very needed,” Davey. “I think KU doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves.”

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“There’s a difference between being pro-student and being pro-development,” Berry says.

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Denza Gonsalves, KUSU president, asks questions about planning permissions in the constituency.

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All other party members look dazed at Keogh uses LGBTQI+ terms to discuss the marriage act.

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Keogh calls out the ‘Spousal Veto’ part of the equal marriage act:

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Roberts distances himself from Farage and other EU MEPs, saying he is here to represent UKIP, not them.

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Questions about UKIP’s stance on LGBTQ+ citizens in the UK.

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An audience member questions UKIP’s alleged scapegoating immigrants and gets cut by the chair. “I didn’t even get the chance to finish my question,” she says.

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Have a look at the parties’ plans for the NHS if they get into government:

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Godfrey says the Tories hate the NHS, saying that the institution is socialist and therefore political.

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“I think you’ve gone Tory,” Godfrey tells Davey.

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Davey: “I don’t know about you, but I want the best quality health care for me and my family.”

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“We need to stop owning and, quoting Labour, ‘weaponising’ the NHS,” Roberts says. 

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“The fact is, the NHS is an institution that needs to be invested in,”Roberts says.

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Berry denies that the NHS is being privatised, but talks about third-party private providers. Both Berry and Roberts speak of ‘free at point of use’.

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“It is beyong arguing that Labour rescued the NHS,” Godfrey says. 

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“I don’t think PFI is a great mechanism,” Godfrey says.

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Greens talk about PFI contracts and Godfrey (Labour) says once again: “The Labour party is the party of the NHS.”

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Keogh attacks Farage’s view on an ‘insurance-based, US-style healthcare’ in the UK. 

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“I can’t be short of the NHS,” Keogh says. She says she’s way too passionate about it. 

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“There is a role for private providers,” Davey says, as long as it is limited. Davey talks of Your Health Care. “LibDems want more money to go to the NHS,” he says. Speaks of mental health services.

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“What is a massive concern to me, is that patients get the best care. I think the government has done a great job there,” Berry says. He claims a very small percentage of the NHS is privatised.

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A question about the wholesale privatisation of the NHS kicks off the discussion after the break.

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After a heated debate on racism, the audience and candidates get a short break.

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“We don’t talk about it [immigration],” Roberts says. “That’s all we’re talking about!” Keogh sighs.

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“This has nothing to do with the immigrants themselves, it’s a numbers thing,” Roberts claims.

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“I didn’t take the route of UKIP to go for an easy option,” Roberts defends himself. He singles out the few “idiots” expelled by UKIP after several scandals, much like he did last time he was at Kingston

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Godfrey points his pen at Roberts, saying: “I wouldn’t think for a second that you’re racist, but the fact that your leader is racist, makes me think your party is Racist. Why are you defending that party?”

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“We know there are some pretty nasty people in UKIP,” Godfrey tells Roberts. “We don’t need to talk about those, we can just talk about your leader, Nigel Farage.”

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Godfrey says that Labour has more MBE MPs than all other parties put together.

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“Is tackling racism a priority for the Labour party? In the words of Ed Milliband: ‘Hell yes!’ ” Godfrey kicks off his statement.

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“Challenge that narrative whenever you get the chance!” Keogh once again gets applause from the audience.

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Keogh makes some snide references towards Farage’s policies: “If you hear someone blaming immigrants for something like a traffic jam, call them out!”

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“This idea of a point-based system is based on the idea that one person is better than another,” Keogh says. She calls UKIP a racist party and receives applause.

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Davey talks about the benefits the UK get from the EU. 

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“I’m really proud to be pro-European,” Davey says.

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An all-white panel talks about racism and diversity in politics. Worth noting also that  James Berry (conservative party) talks about glass ceilings and diversity in his party. In the panel, however, Greens’ Keogh is the only woman.

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Berry, in order to defend the Tories’ immigration policies, mentions UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s stance on racism prevention.

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Roberts passionately talk about EU-immigrants, saying that the current pledge by the Tories to bring back immigration to the tens of thousands penalises non-EU immigrants.

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“The fact remains that our immigration policy is less discriminatory against certain racial groups than the current one,” Roberts says.

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“There will be no points allocated based on race,” Roberts says on UKIP’s planned point-based immigration system. 

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“You can chuckle,” Roberts tell the audience.

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“Integration of immigrants coming into this country is going to be vital in tackling racism in this country,” Roberts says. “I want to tackle this issue of racism head-on.”

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The chair aims a question on racism and immigration directly at UKIP candidate Ben Roberts first.

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Godfrey accuses Davey of saying he saved the maternity ward in Kingston Hospital, and says it is now intensely underfunded.

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“You promised no VAT rise … you get into power, you raise VAT, which hit the poorest people the hardest,” Godfrey tells Davey.

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A lot of finger pointing between Ed Davey and Lee Godfrey because of alleged ‘broken promises’. Davey: “You broke promises in a majority government.”

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Ed Davey talks about green investment and investments in young people that were made possible by cuts in higher education.

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Ed Davey, the current Kingston and Surbiton LibDem MP, is asked to respond to the attacks from his colleagues.

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In stark contrast with Keogh, who received applause from the audience, Roberts receives shaking heads from (art) students.

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Roberts says UKIP wants to abolish tuition fees on subjects with ‘core skills’. “We have to address the specific needs of this country.”

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“You can’t turn the clock back, we are in this unfortunate position,” Roberts says. 

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Ben Roberts, the UKIP candidate who received strong criticism from KU students last time he was in this lecture theater, speaks of LibDem and their ‘broken promise’: “It is a symptom of a Westminster politican who says things to get people to vote for them.”

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“Actually Ed, you really let me down. I was one of the students in your constituency,” Keogh, only 23-years-old, tells Davey.

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“We used to have free education,”Keogh said. Keogh mentions trident when talking about savings the Greens would make to fund free education.

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“You can’t deny that people are starting their working life with more debt than ever,” Keogh says. 

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“We all benefit from higher education. It is not a commodity and it should not be treated as a commodity … instead it should be treated as a right,” Keogh says.

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“Education is a right,” Green Party’s Clare Keogh kicks off her answer.

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Godfrey: “If you let me, I will come back to this university once every term, to be held accountable.”

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Godfrey mentions Labour’s £6k tuition cap promise. “You have the power here,” he says.

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“Ed Davey has promised to vote against any lowering in tuition fees, so you know which way to vote,” Godfrey said. 

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“This is the man who made the agreement with the tories,” Labour candidate Lee Godfrey said, pointing at Ed Davey, referring to the tuition fee u-turn. “The biggest betrayal in recent political history in my view.”

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Berry, who studied at UCL, brings forward the defense the Tories often use in this debate: ‘at least we didn’t promise anything’. 

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“It was a cut that had to be made, I accept it wasn’t popular,” Berry says. 

Bauke Schram March 31 20154:18 pm

James Berry, the conservative candidate, says: “Cuts had to be made … tuition fees was one of them.”

Bauke Schram March 31 20154:17 pm

Lib Dem’s Nick Glegg pledged not to lift the tuition fee cap to £9k a year. Ed Davey, representing a constituency with an incredible amount of students, has been under fire after his party’s ‘tuition u-turn’.

Bauke Schram March 31 20154:16 pm

The event has kicked off. Apologies for the slight delay. The chair of the panel dove right in by asking Ed Davey about the tuition fees. 

Bauke Schram March 31 20154:02 pm

The Clattern Lecture Theater is slowly filling up with anticipating students. Three of the five candidates have sat down.

About Bauke Schram

Bauke Schram is the external news editor for the River Online. She is a political journalist with an interest in transnational organisations and international economics. She has written for the likes of City AM, Shout Out UK and Third Sector Magazine

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