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Cross-party debate one-sided with no Conservative speaker

Written by: on February 24, 2009

A cross-party debate held last Tuesday to include representatives from the Labour, Conservative, Green and Liberal Democrat parties was left thinner than planned when the Conservatives failed to deliver someone to participate in the discussion.

The talk encompassed subjects such as the economy, green issues and security.

The secretary of Warwick Liberal Democrats, Tim Hodgson, said the lack of a Conservative speaker was “disappointing” and that they had been “conspicuous by their absence”.

Sam Magrath, an audience member, remarked upon how the absence of a real opposition had meant there had been less of a “dichotomy of views” than he would have liked.

The debate was, as a consequence of Conservative non-attendance, comparatively one-sided.

However, there were enough variances of opinion to lead to occasional clashes.

When an audience member asked the Green party speaker, Ian Davidson, election candidate for Leamington and former Warwick staff member, whether the Labour VAT cut had been a success, Davidson replied that it “swaps consumer debt into government debt”.

Yet the Labour spokesperson and PPC for Nuneaton, Jayne Innes, pointed to the fact that families would be £245 better off per year and argued as socialists, the other parties in attendance should be supporting such “Keynesian” economic strategies.

The subject of voter apathy was touched upon, with Liberal Democrat spokesperson, John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, criticising the “old” and declining candidacy. ‘Speak for yourself!’ replied Innes.

Discussion largely revolved around the economy and environmental issues.

One student, Adrian Fowl, commented that the types of issues raised were almost more interesting than the actual debate itself.

When asked about what Labour was going to achieve at the forthcoming United Nations Copenhagen climate conference in December, Innes was unable to give specific policies, he stressed however that Britain was leading the way on climate change, claiming it had taken European governments with it.

This was met with derision by the other parties, who pointed to Sweden and Denmark as alternative leaders in environmental policy. “And they’re colder than us!” joked Hemming.

The debate was generally praised for its good organisation. Rob Windsor, a Socialist councillor for Coventry, commended the event for displaying alternative views in politics, but said it was “quieter” than he had expected. However, there were students who commented that the debate could have been better regulated.

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