Parliamentary candidates grilled by students at Portsmouth College debate

The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left:  David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons)   Picture: Heather Eggelton
The hustings at Portsmouth College - from left: David Carpenter (college governor), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems), Ian McCulloch (Green), Steve Fitzgerald (college teacher and chair), Stephen Morgan (Labour), Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip) and Penny Mordaunt (Cons) Picture: Heather Eggelton

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  • Candidates grilled on nationalisation of public services, voting age, potential coalition governments and about toeing the party line
  • Parties clashed and agreed across the board over the issues
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CITY parliamentary candidates were grilled by students during a packed election hustings.

Issues such as the debate over the nationalisation of public services, a potential coalition government and whether the voting age should be lowered were raised the during the debate at Portsmouth College.

We get people saying that 16 is too young to vote and that they do not know a lot about politics but I could say the same about some of the older generation.

Ian McCulloch, talking about lowering the voting age to 16

Four Portsmouth South candidates in the form of Kevan Chippindall-Higgin (Ukip), Ian McCulloch (Green), Councillor Stephen Morgan (Labour) and Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dems) attended while Penny Mordaunt, a Portsmouth North candidate, represented the Tories.

The nationalising of public services, such as of the country’s rail network, proved a popular topic among the students. Cllr Morgan backed the re-nationalisation of the rail network, a key part of the party manifesto stating: ‘I’m really excited about these plans to get rail fares fairer and cheaper.

‘It’s a travesty that it takes the same time to get to Portsmouth from London now by train as it did in Victorian times.’

Mr McCulloch backed the proposal while cllr Vernon-Jackson stated it would be ‘very sensible’ but that he’d rather see government funds go to the NHS and schools.

Ms Mordaunt said she was not in favour, adding that funds would be better placed into improving services in their current form and Mr Chippindall-Higgin said the situation was ‘beyond being black or white.’

Another hot topic was that of lowering the voting age to 16 which was supported by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens.

Mr McCulloch said: ‘We get people saying that 16 is too young to vote and that they do not know a lot about politics but I could say the same about some of the older generation.’

Mr Chippindall-Higgin said that a 16-year-old could not make an informed judgement and Ms Mordaunt said that her party’s policy was to maintain 18 as the voting age and that a test for people to take to determine their eligibility would not be feasible.