High School hustings gives teens a voice

Victoria LeggettAfter a super-polite debate in Wells last week the gloves were off - or had at least slipped a bit - at latest election hustings in north Norfolk.Organised by year 10 North Walsham High School student Kieran Isaacson as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award, the event aimed to give his fellow teenagers a chance to engage with politics and get involved in the build-up to May 6.Victoria Leggett

After a super-polite debate in Wells last week the gloves were off - or had at least slipped a bit - at latest election hustings in north Norfolk.

Organised by year 10 North Walsham High School student Kieran Isaacson as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award, the event aimed to give his fellow teenagers a chance to engage with politics and get involved in the build-up to May 6.

All candidates in the north Norfolk battle were either present or sent stand-ins from their party to face about 80 people.

The debate threw up a wide range of topics - largely thanks to its varied audience which ranged from teenagers and their parents to North Walsham's pensioners - from asylum seekers and Trident nuclear submarines to political correctness in schools.


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UKIP candidate Michael Baker at one point announced he was 'being picked on' following a number of questions on his party's stance on asylum seekers and immigration.

One American audience member - who lives in north Norfolk with her British husband - asked him to explain how he defined the 'foreign undesirables' UKIP aimed to keep out of the country.

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Mr Baker said: 'I mean anybody from a foreign country who's against the British way of life. We have no problem with people who want to live here and who are prepared to be part of our society. If you want to bring down our society, I suggest you go home.'

A discussion about whether the UK should be replacing its Trident submarines saw Tory candidate Trevor Ivory disagree with his party leader about whether they were needed - insisting there was more threat from suicide bombers than nuclear weapons.

Paul Morse, representing Norman Lamb and the Lib Dems, said his party wanted to see more activities provided for young people to prevent anti-social behaviour while independent candidate Simon Mann took the opportunity to tell the audience about a draft bill he had written to overhaul the parliamentary system.

Labour's Phil Harris told the meeting he saw credit unions and co-operative banks were the answer to problems with the banking system while Green Party representative Brian Goodale defended his party's stance against too much air travel.

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