Should the voting age be lowered? If so, would the outcome of general and regional elections be different? Do young people understand the issues involved in choosing people to guide their country, their county or their town?
To prove even the youngest of them have a strong grasp of modern politics, schools and colleges throughout Wealden held their own ‘mock elections’ with surprising results.
At Uckfield Community Technology College, constituency candidates presented their own cases. Labour’s Solomon Curtis overturned the General Election result by narrowly beating Conservative’s Nusrat Ghani by four votes. Votes were counted using the AV electoral system (chosen by students in a 2011 referendum) and Solomon achieved 35.83 per cent of combined years 12 and 13 votes, followed by Nusrat on 33.75 per cent. Third came the Greens, fourth the Lib Dems and fifth UKIP. Solomon will be UCTC’s honorary MP for the next year. Nusrat Ghani improved on her predecessor Charles Hendry’s score. A college spokesman said the voting pattern was almost a microcosm of real polls but, he pointed out, the sixth formers and staffers are more left wing than the rest of the electorate with significantly more support for the Greens and less for UKIP.
The main purpose of the annual event was to raise awareness of politics and encourage students to vote and get involved.
Over in Heathfield, Community College students proved they were in tune with adult voters by ‘returning’ the Conservatives to power (31.4 per cent.) Once again Greens did well polling 22.6 per cent, Labour 19.5 per cent, UKIP 14.7 per cent and LibDem just 9.7 per cent. There were 2.1 spoilt papers.
Proving an interest in politics does not just start at the age of 11, children from St Philips RC Primary School held a mock General Election after a period of study and hustings. Each of four groups (Conservative, Labour, Green and LibDem) elected leaders who gave ‘election broadcasts’ aiming to influence their fellow pupils. Winners were the Conservatives, beating Greens into second, LibDems into third and Labour last.
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