PUBLISHED: 11:58 18 May 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2017
Students in Bassingbourn got a taste of voting in a General Election as the four parliamentary candidates for South Cambs attended a hustings event at the village college.
Susan van de Ven, Heidi Allen, Dan Greef and Simon Saggers were each given three minutes to outline their campaign to 200 Year 10 and 11 students, who then cast their votes.
Year 10 student Iain Lynn said: “Politics lives in everything we do, whether it’s being able to catch a bus, or a referendum as huge as Brexit.
“Being able to talk to our candidates was an incredible experience that allowed all of us to see real politics in action.
“For the Conservatives we had our former MP, Heidi Allen, who was very passionate and explained to us what an MP can do in parliament – that it’s not just the senior roles that can change our country.
“For Labour we had Dan Greef, who used his charismatic style to win the college vote. He talked about hot topics such as the NHS and showed us how the wealth is distributed in Britain.
“For the Greens we had Simon Saggers, who dominated the discussion conversation, switching from debating with Dan about proportional representation to answering our questions with ease.
“And for the Lib Dems we had our current county councillor, Susan van de ven, who pushed the home front – improving our public transport, as well as the refugee crisis and how that affects us.
“All in all, the hustings was an amazing experience and it showed us the hidden art of real world politics.”
The end result was a close-fought battle between The Green Party and Labour – with the latter eventually coming out on top.
Following the main presentations, a number of history and sociology students were able to spend time with the candidates in a round table debate chaired by BVC’s chair of governors, Ken Murphy. They got to quiz candidates about their policies on university fees, proportional representation, refugees and how they thought politics could be made more appealing.
Iain’s fellow Year 10 students who also took part in the hustings and the round table debate gave their feedback about the day to the Crow.
Lydia Cornwell said: “I thought the hustings really influenced my view on politics and helped me decide who I would like to vote for in the future.”
Lydia’s twin sister Bea said: “The discussion we had with the candidates was interesting and offered us an insight into the world of politics – it was far from the petty behaviour that we so often see on television.
“We were able to discuss a wide range of topics such as political disenfranchisement and the value of proportional representation. I felt that I was speaking to people who would be able to make a difference.”
Holly Derrett said: “The candidates were willing to answer all our questions – from tuition fees to the housing market, from the refugee crisis to lowering the voting age. All their answers were explained in great depth and justified, which gave us a greater understanding of the issues we would usually just take at face value.
“It was interesting to see the members of each party challenge each other and create a lively debate and dynamic atmosphere. When exploring certain topics, we discovered that some of the candidates’ views were not so different from each other.
“While we may feel as if we have a very polarised political environment, it was reassuring to engage with our local candidates and understand politics at a deeper level.”
Bassingbourn Village College principal Duncan Cooper added: “We were very excited to be able to host one of the first of the 2017 hustings in South Cambridgeshire. I was very impressed by the knowledge of our students and just how detailed they were in their questions to the candidates.
“We would like to wish all the candidates very best of luck on June 8.”