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Great Britain

Darlington pupils put election candidates to the test

STUDENTS at a Darlington school staged their own Question Time to give the senior school the chance to grill Darlington’s main party candidates about issues that concerned them.

Attending the event at Polam Hall School were Jenny Chapman, for the Labour Party; Anne-Marie Curry for the Lib Dems; and Matthew Snedker for the Green Party.

Tory candidate Peter Gibson was unable to attend at the last minute because of the visit to the town of Chancellor, Sajid Javid, but he was represented by Conservative Party member, Catherine Hart. Brexit candidate, Dave Mawson, did not attend.

At the first hustings held in the town, pupils asked for answers to the pertinent issues of the moment, including where the parties stood on Brexit; where the money will come from to cover the cost of the minimum wage bill; and where Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was going to find 20,000 additional police officers.

They also challenged school budget cuts; climate change; plus allegations of anti-semitism in the Labour Party, and Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

Organiser of the event was Polam’s Head of Humantics, Glenn Pepper, who said: “There was a lot of interest from the pupils when we proposed holding the hustings, and we received around 160 questions that they wanted asked of the candidates.

“We believe that it’s important that the pupils get a broad polarity of views, and we were delighted that four of the candidates agreed to attend our hustings and answer the questions of our next generation of voters.”

Principal, Kate Reid, said: “We already have a very politically engaged student body in the school, and it’s part of our job to open their minds and see the world around them. It’s been good for them to hear the different views of the various candidates, so they can form their own opinions.”

The senior school will shadow the General Election by staging their own mock election with pupils standing as candidates for each party and running campaigns, prior to a school vote on December 12.

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