Five of the candidates vying to succeed Alistair Darling as MP for Edinburgh South West on 7 May attended a Hustings Event at George Watson's College yesterday. Joanna Cherry (SNP), Richard Doherty (Scottish Green), Ricky Henderson (Scottish Labour), Gordon Lindhurst (Scottish Conservatives) and Richard Lucas (UKIP) were asked some searching questions by the assembled audience of pupils, parents, staff and other members of the community. Work commitments unfortunately prevented the Liberal Democrat candidate Daniel Farthing-Sykes from attending.
The debate, chaired by Principal Melvyn Roffe, started off with a question from the Head Girl, a first time voter whose eighteenth birthday fell that day, concerning the candidates commitment to engage with young people and encourage them to vote.
The hour flew by as topic after topic was raised from the floor. Fiscal debt, voting for 16 and 17 year olds, tuition fees and their impact on the number of university places for Scottish students, the possibility of a further referendum, health issues and dealing with cancer, free trade versus protectionism, the European job market, foreign aid and global citizenship, were all discussed with the occasional glimpse of agreement as well as discord between the candidates.
Following the debate Melvyn Roffe said, “We are grateful to the candidates for sparing the time to bring the General Election campaign so vividly to life. It was an enjoyable and informative hour which I believe will have served to demonstrate that it is not only possible for politicians to disagree without rancour but even to agree from time to time. We were delighted to welcome so many of our neighbours, including pupils from Boroughmuir High School to the event."