Politics students put their revision into practice as they got the chance to grill EU candidates yesterday.
The hustings event, held at Luton Sixth Form College, saw East of England candidates from major parties attend to debate immigration, EU membership and tuition fees, among other issues.
The debate came three weeks before EU elections on May 22 and also three weeks before students themselves will be grilled in end of year exams.
East England currently has 7 MEPs, four Conservative, one Labour, one Lib Dem and one UKIP.
Government and Politics A-Level students pre-prepared questions to be asked,
Answering the questions and debating the toss were MEP candidates Linda Jack (Lib Dem), Chris Ostrowski (Labour), Margaret Simons (Conservative) and Marc Schiemann (Green). Party activist Daniel Jukes, 17, represented UKIP on the panel.
The first question put to the participants, on whether the proportional representation voting system should be introduced for Westminster elections, proved divisive though tempers did not flare until immigration was touched on.
Margaret Simons, the Conservatives’ sixth East England candidate, told the audience: “We are now negotiating with the EU to reduce to desire of people to come to this country and that is not to do with discrimination but it is to do with our ability to plan for public services.”
UKIP representative Daniel Jukes disagreed, arguing: “As it stands you cannot control your borders while still in the EU. There is no way to tell who will be coming over while you have free movement of labour. There is no way there will be negotiation on that.”
Students chipped in with questions throughout the 90 minute discussion.
Government and Politics teacher Steve Coghlan, who organised the event, said he was pleased with the turnout of around 70 students.
He said: “The questions were not randomly chosen, about 150 students were asked to submit questions and the most popular ones were used,
“I was very pleased that the questions were answered in a way that could be understood, I think students will now go away and decide which party is for them.
“UKIP are flavour of the month but they come with controversy so I expected sparks to fly but everyone was well-mannered.
“That was the point for these students, to see that people hold different views and can fall out over them.
“It was very useful for the students, it has validated what they have learnt in class. We hope that a few may consider becoming politicians and perhaps one will represent Luton in the future.”