University of Southampton hosts last Itchen hustings before the General Election

PARTIES standing in the Southampton Itchen constituency took part in another hustings in a final effort to try and win over voters.

The University of Southampton repurposed their cinema as a venue for the ‘Question Time’ styled event, which was open to both students and the general public.

It also gave an opportunity for members of the audience to ask their own questions towards the end of the hustings.

The Itchen candidates in attendance were:

  • Royston Smith – Conservative Party
  • Simon Letts – Labour Party
  • Liz Jarvis – Liberal Democrats
  • Kim Rose – UK Independence Party

The Green Party candidate, Osman Sen-Chadun, was unable to attend.

Simon Letts narrowly lost to Royston Smith in the 2017 General Election by just 31 votes.
Katherine Barbour, the Green Party’s Southampton Test candidate, answered the signal to cover for Osman Sen-Chadun.

Katherine Barbour said: “Unfortunately Osman was admitted to hospital last night. He’s just been discharged about two hours ago. He hasn’t slept at all and I’m afraid he isn’t in a state to attend.”

The first half of the hustings had candidates answer questions prepared by the Students’ Union, which touched on the issues of tuition fees, hate crime, as well as housing and the climate crisis.

When the questions were opened to the audience, the discussion ranged from LGBT issues to foreign policy. One question from a student nurse who had just finished her shift sparked a lengthy discussion about the NHS and nurse shortages, particularly in Southampton.

Kim Rose likened the hustings to a “Poundland version of Question Time”.

The Students’ Union President Emily Harrison moderated the debate and tried to ensure each candidate had equal time to make their points, interrupting them if necessary. She said: “Tonight was a tough one! There were a lot of really strong personalities on that stage which is quite hard to control.”

“As a chair you want to remain impartial and make sure things run smoothly, but it’s sometimes hard to get that balance between making sure everyone has their right to speak and also ensuring people aren’t being attacked unfairly.”

Audience members had a chance to talk directly with some of the candidates after the event.

Voting for the general election will take place on Thursday, December 12th.

The full hustings can be viewed below.