Bath & North East Somerset Chair Participates In Cross Party Panel
It is not every day you see a cross party panel in politics, let alone be invited to participate in one. However when I was asked to be involved in the south west young greens launch event, I thought it was a great opportunity to show that there is maturity between different political groups.
As expected the green party members were very welcoming and accommodating, while I do not agree with a lot of their core ideas we did share some very similar views on military non-intervention & lowering of tuition fees. It is interesting that like UKIP, the green party are positioning themselves as the alternative choice to the establishment of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat and were very damning towards Labour in a lot of the opening speeches.
My panel introduction centred on highlighting that there are lots of challenges in the world of tomorrow, and if we look at the cause and not just the effect we can make some positive changes. I made comment to UKIP wanting a sensible immigration policy and not complete closed borders. How we should focus more on the cost of living, not simplified carbon reduction ideology and how UKIP want to give choice back to young people through more grammar and technical schools.
Questions were given on MPs salaries, housing, gender equality in the House of Commons, voting age, fear politics and finally energy (albeit we didn’t get much time to respond on Energy, one of the most pressing challenges). As the conservative representative didn’t show we didn’t get a full spectrum of answers, however I personally do not believe it would have been much different to what was given. As it was apparent from the start there wouldn’t be much in the way of differing opinions from all parties, excluding UKIP.
The housing question took up a lot of the time and sadly all the other parties talked primarily about the problem and not the causes. I attempted to give food for thought by explaining that annual net migration was just reported by the ONS as 243,000 which is similar to a city the size of Brighton or Hull, and that population rises must attribute to the “housing crisis”. My figures were later outrageously disputed by Alex, the liberal youth rep. Who claimed 2.3 million people came to the UK and 2.3 million left, however proceeded to refute his own position by saying he wasn’t suggesting net migration was zero.
Fear politics was primarily aimed at UKIP; however I tried to make the point that opposite opinions to each other can often be seen as fear mongering, and that the outrageous news in Rotherham recently, demonstrates that we should never be afraid to talk about things due to political correctness gone mad. Without UKIP we wouldn’t be having much of a debate on the EU, immigration, direct democracy or MP recall and it is good to see we are changing the political landscape.
It was clear we all wanted a better future for the many and not the few, however it was business as usual, you couldn’t really separate the other parties with a chewing gum wrapper, and there was a raucous laugh when I dared to suggest UKIP bring different talking points and don’t just appease the crowd of the day.
On the whole the experience was positive, Julian (Bath UKIP PPC) and I were invited to dinner and it was clear that we had changed many minds about what they thought of UKIP. One current green councillor was game enough to give us a question and answer session via his twitter followers and realised quickly we were extremely approachable and nothing like the main stream media depiction.
All involved showed great maturity and proved we do not need to talk over each other, get angry or demonise others just because opinions differ.
Young Independence Chairman for Bath & North East Somerset