Hustings at RGS

Hustings at RGS

Students quizzed Newcastle North’s Parliamentary candidates standing in this week’s General Election. 

A selection of students from Y10 and Y12 joined four of the seven Parliamentary candidates at the event in the Miller Theatre. 

 The event brought together Guy Renner-Thompson (Conservative), Aiden King (Liberal Democrats), Martin Evison (Social Democratic Party) and Milo Barnett, who represented Labour candidate Catherine McKinnell. 

Deborah Lorraine (Reform), Sarah Peters (Green) and King Teare (Independent) were invited but did not take part.

It was an opportunity for the students to hear directly the views of the parties. 

Each candidate introduced themselves and presented their party's vision and policies before answering the pre-submitted questions put to them by Y12 host Ellen C.

While none of the students at the hustings were of voting age, many were keen to hear what the candidates thought of Labour’s plan to lower the voting age to 16, and wanted to know how the parties planned to engage more young people. 

Mr Evison urged young people to take an active interest in politics and help build a new centrist party for the future.  

Former Conservative mayoral candidate Mr Renner-Thomas described himself as “the weirdo at school who liked politics”, but said it was not in favour of votes for 16 and 17-year-olds. 

Old Novo Mr Barnett said the Labour Party was right to support votes for 16-year-olds and recalled how he attended his first political meeting in his RGS uniform, while Dr King said younger people “should be allowed to make their own decisions about the world”. 

When questioned, all candidates agreed the high levels of child poverty in the North East had to be tackled, and Labour’s manifesto pledge to add VAT to private school fees was also a hot topic. 

Sir Keir Starmer’s party believes introducing a 20% charge on fees paid by parents will raise £1.6bn as part of its plans to recruit around 6,500 specialist state school teachers in England. 

Mr Barnett insisted the plan “can be a success” and disputed claims the rise could lead to some private schools having to close their doors, saying parents were already committed to their child’s education. 

The SDP has “no plans” to impose VAT on schools, and Grammar-school educated Mr Evison said he was “personally against” the idea, explaining it would likely put even more pressure on State education and there would be no winners. 

Both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative candidates spoke of their comprehensive school education with Mr Renner-Thompson calling the VAT on fees “an incredibly stupid idea” that would only harm “middle-class finances”. Dr King agreed the plan did not make financial sense. 

Latest News

View All News