Hustings Becomes Heated
Updated: Feb 24
Last Thursday LSA hosted a pupil lead hustings featuring Mark Menzies (Conservative), Mark Jewell (Liberal Democrats), Tina Rothery (deputising for Gina Downing, Green candidate) and Martin Mitchell (Labour). The hustings consisted of a panel of candidates, Chair of the pupil council Freyja Harrison-Wood and an audience of eager pupils from all years. Questions had been submitted previously, starting with questions about the individual candidates and community and ranging through questions on healthcare, fracking and education. The candidates all proved polite and insightful answers into their party's' policies. However, when asked about their action towards fracking - things became more heated.
First - Whats the issue with fracking? Fracking is a well stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid. 'Fracking fluid' will be injected at a high pressure into deep rock formations so oils like petroleum, brine and natural gas flow more easily and can be harvested for human consumption. In the Fylde Fracking is conducted by an american company called Cuadrilla (who obtained legislation for fracking under a Labour government). So why is it such a hot topic in the Fylde? Simply put those in the Fylde constituency voted 'No' to fracking however this vote was overturned by parliament and fracking took place anyway although as of November 2019 fracking in the Fylde has now ceased.
Mark Jewell responded to this question by stating that fracking will now longer take place and that he has frequently protested fracking. Next, Martin Mitchell answered that he condemns fracking and the Conservative Government (including Mark Menzies) for allowing fracking.
However, Mark Menzies pointed out that the licence that allowed fracking was granted under a Labour Government ( fracking in Fylde had started in 2016 during a Conservative government and ended in 2019). What ensued can best be described as a "disagreement" where Labour and Conservative attacked each others policies until green candidate Tina Rothery stepped in saying how "both governments have failed us in certain aspects and the only way to stop what is essentially a two party system is to vote for alternative parties" (very rough paraphrasing) like The Greens. This, of course, was a green party promotion but a massive power move for Tina- earning her respect from the audience.
This isn't the only time Labour and Conservative had a difference of opinion -when asked about climate change action, temperatures rose again. Mark Menzies was adamant that he was for climate change action but Tina Rothery disagreed. She argued that the Conservative Government is not doing enough to combat climate change with their manifesto mentioning climate issues a miniscule 72 times (in comparison to Labours 209 or Lib Dems 277 times). Next, an iconic moment unfolded. The previously neutral student chairperson/moderator stepped in with frankly, the facts. She had researched the standing MP's voting record and challenged him on his recent voting in the House of Commons. To that, Mark replied that he had voted against the specific pieces of legislation as they were amendments proposed by the Labour Party that he disagreed with the detail of. If the conservatives propose their specific green plans, he would absolutely vote for the changes.
Over the course of the hustings dozens of questions were asked on the NHS, the Whip System and tackling homelessness to, inevitably, Brexit. With all candidates giving their all and enthusing over 250 pupils to take a keen interest in politics. Mark Jewell (Lib Dem) summed the impact of the event up best " Whatever political colours your students eventually fly, I hope they will continue to work for their communities."
Did you attend the hustings? Did it sway you to vote for another party? Simply want to know the results of LSA's vote? Read the LSA Election Results Article (also in the politics section).