With the fast approaching UK general election due to take place in May 2015, Strode’s College took this unique opportunity to showcase democracy by creating our own mock general election complete with local parliamentary candidates.
The election, including a lively podium debate, was chaired by our very own Principal, Anne Fielding Smith, and was attended by Philip Hammond (Conservative MP for Runnymede & Weybridge and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Arran Neathey (Labour Candidate for Runnymede & Weybridge), John Vincent (Liberal Democratic Candidate for Runnymede & Weybridge), Redvers Cunningham (UKIP candidate for Spelthorne) and Paul Jacobs (Green Party candidate for Spelthorne).
Over 300 Strode’s students took part and voted for the candidate of their choice. In true democratic style each candidate was given four minutes to present a brief overview of their party’s plans to advance the interests of young people in the next parliament, with subjects ranging from current and international affairs, education costs and career prospects. Students were then given the opportunity to question and challenge the candidates, with the most popular topics focussed on rising university fees, cuts in funding for sixth form colleges and the learning tax on 6th form colleges.
At the end of the mock election the polling station opened and the Labour Party candidate was voted a clear winner with 33% of the vote. In joint second place came the Conservatives and Green Party candidates with 25% of the vote, followed by the Lib Dems with 10% and UKIP with 7%.
Following the election all of the candidates praised our students for their passion in Politics and Current Affairs and were grateful for the opportunity to meet with young people and understand their concerns and motivations for the future.
For the majority of our students this is the first time that they will be eligible to vote in a General Election and this mock election truly encouraged them to engage first hand in democracy, and whilst at times the conversations became quite heated, this clearly demonstrated that taking part in democratic
debate is as important for the youth of today as it was for their ancestors who fought for it many centuries ago.