Students show political acumen at Question Time

MP Kris Hopkins, left, with student Ed Saunders and John Grogan

MP Kris Hopkins, left, with student Ed Saunders and John Grogan

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by

Ilkley Grammar School held its own Question Time last week with two representatives from local politics.

John Grogan, Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Keighley and Ilkley and Kris Hopkins, Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley, joined the student chaired panel for some lively debate on both local and national topics.

The panel was kept in order by politics student Ed Saunders, who took on the role of David Dimbleby for the afternoon. Ed is in final year of sixth form and hopes to study politics at Aberystwyth University.

Jacqui Nicholl, head of economics and business studies, said: “We had a really wide selection of questions ranging from tuition fees and the bedroom tax to nuclear power and the European Union and UKIP. Our students certainly made the most of the opportunity to discuss politics with our guests.”

A packed hall of sixth form students listened intently to the answers from the panel.

Ed Saunders, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to chair a debate between the current Conservative MP and the Labour candidate.

“It was fascinating to hear both politicians responding to a wide range of questions from post-16 students and to see them interacting with a group of potential voters who they may not normally meet when canvassing.”

Both Kris Hopkins and John Gorgan said they thoroughly enjoyed the event.

Mr Hopkins said: “I had a very enjoyable time and was particularly impressed by the quality of the questions from the floor, and the level of passion with which they were asked.

“It is really important that politicians seek to engage young people in the political process and give them the opportunity to challenge the decisions we make. We need to hear what we can do to improve their lives and shape their futures.

“I hope those pupils who came along found the event as useful as I did. Needless to say, I would also welcome the support of those eligible to vote come General Election day!”

John Grogan said: “Ilkley Grammar School has a long tradition of welcoming politicians from all parties into the school to debate and I was delighted to take part.

“I can only hope that events like this will encourage students to use their votes at next year’s General Election, particularly as turnout nationally among 18 to 24 year olds was only 44 per cent in 2010. In fact this was the first opportunity for Kris Hopkins and I to debate with each other and I hope there will be other occasions over the next 12 months.”

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