Wednesday, 5 March 2008

QT at QE

Off to Queen Elizabeth 6th Form College this morning for a Question Time event for their Politics students. Almost 100 were in the audience, not bad for a 9am start!
Allison Carling from Democratic Services kicked things off with a presentation about the structure of the Council and, somewhat disconcertingly, a slide show of mug shots of the Cabinet Members and Scrutiny Chairs.
Then myself, Barry Armstrong for the Conservatives and Dot Long for Labour took to the stage. Dot was standing in at the last minute for Jenny Chapman, who was unwell. Luckily, the politics teacher told us that Dot was arriving late, which meant I could correct him about her name before he introduced us. I suspect the school secretary needs handwriting lessons, or a hearing aid, because the teacher was convinced our esteemed Labour colleague was called Councillor Dotty!
Each councillor was given a few minutes to introduce themselves and say how they first became interested in politics. Then there was a series of questions from the floor, with each councillor having a minute or so to reply to each question. Unfortunately no debate was allowed, and students couldn't ask supplementary questions - just like Full Council, then.
As far as I can remember, questions were asked on proportional representation, relationships with the MP, how councillors represented their constituents, elected mayors, whether all the parties were gravitating to the centre, whether there were party whips in the Council Groups, lowering the voting age and involving women and minorities in political activity. So the emphasis was very much on structure and administration rather than policy, though I managed to slip in an invitation to the Friends of the Earth film show tonight, in case anyone was interested in real politics.
The students were thoughtful and interested and the morning finished with a large group photograph (I'll post one when they send them on). They plan to make this an annual event. By that time my poor voice might have recovered from the strain put upon it at the Riverside on Saturday, following our last minute winner against the Boro.


miketually said...

"I managed to slip in an invitation to the Friends of the Earth film show tonight, in case anyone was interested in real politics"

I'll be there, manning the DCC stand.

Anonymous said...

The daughter was there. She texted me to say it was interesting. I quote "they were having a go at each other". I think she is getting the idea of politics!
Gill Cartwright