A straw poll before and after hustings at University of Sussex saw the result flip once candidates had their say.
Before anyone but the moderators Professor Saul Becker and law student Rachel Sutton took to the stage, Labour had a clear lead with 43 per cent of those taking part in the poll opting for the party, followed by 32 per cent for the Greens.
After more than an hour of debate 51 per cent of the audience joining in the phone-based vote went for the Greens, followed by 30 per cent for Labour.
Support for the Liberal Democrats dropped from 10 per cent to 4 per cent and the Conservatives went from 7 per cent to 3 per cent.
The Brexit Party increased its share from 1 per cent to 10 per cent of those taking part in the poll.
Candidates joining in the debate were from the three Brighton and Hove parliamentary constituencies.
- Caroline Lucas (Green) in Brighton Pavilion
- Richard Milton (Brexit Party) in Brighton Pavilion
- Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour) in Brighton Kemptown
- Joe Miller (Conservative) in Brighton Kemptown
- Beatrice Bass (Liberal Democrat) in Hove
After their opening statements the candidates answered pre-selected questions from the audience along with a couple of randomly selected questions on the night.
Caroline Lucas (CL) said that Brighton and Hove was a special place to live with a number of challenges from homelessness and drug use to supporting people with mental health problems. On the national scene she wanted the election focused on climate change.
Richard Milner (RM) said that 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union (EU) and for the past three years a small group of people – some elected ad some not – had blocked the biggest vote in British history. He said that the situation disenfranchised the whole electorate.
Beatrice Bass (BB) urged people to make a change and find a new political home as trust in politicians was at an all-time low. She lives in Brighton and Hove and described the city as the best place to live.
Joe Miller (JM) said that now was the time for people to focus on what they believed in to take the country forward. The key issues were improving the NHS, schools, the environment and housing, including more affordable homes.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (LRM) said that Britain was broken, not by Brexit or Europe but by nine years of austerity brought about by the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. This had led to more homeless people on our streets.
How can political parties and leaders reinstall public trust in politics?
CL: “We have a Prime Minister who is undermining trust in politics and does not care about the truth. Telling the truth has become a radical act.” She criticised people for using terms such as “surrender bill”. She is a member of Compassion in Politics to ensure politicians tell the truth, moderate their language and respect different views. “Politicians should tell the truth and call each other out on it.”
RM: “Trust has been broken.” The single specific cause was that a huge majority of people voted for a certain course of action and they have been denied that cause of action. There are millions of people in this country who are incandescent with rage that they have been ignored. This is an opportunity for people to show how angry they are. We need to ensure politicians enact the will of the majority. Until they do it then that mistrust will continue.”
BB: “Where the is £350 million for the NHS? Where are all the magic trade deals we were promised and the richness and prosperity Brexit apparently should bring? Three years on we are in a deadlock with people wondering if they can trust politicians ever again after bringing us into this mess. Trust is a two-way system. We need to trust politicians and ourselves to make the right decisions.”
JM: “It is up to political parties and leaders not one or the other to act respectfully and use moderate language. We need to believe what we say and deliver on what we say. We need to be honest and say we are human and we can only deliver what we aim to deliver and be reasonable. I don’t think u-turn is a bad word. We can change our minds if something is not attainable. We need to be human.”
LRM: “Politics is partly broken because in the House of Commons chamber you see lie after lie coming out of politicians’ mouths. One thing we could do is require politicians, if they are proven to tell a mistruth, they have to correct the record with the same amount of attention or they lose their seat.” He said that he could not call a politician a liar and mentioned the Conservative Party changing its Twitter account into a Factchecker.
According to a study by the RCP, 43 per cent of consultant positions in the NHS are unfilled. Bearing in mind it takes seven years to train a doctor, how will your party deal with the crisis of doctor shortages?
LRM: “There are a large number of consultants leaving the NHS partly because of pension reforms which means if they work over their hours they get money taken away from them. It’s a bizarre change. Many consultants are leaving because of morale and a feeling they don’t get enough support. We’ve had nine years of talking about cutting back room people, the secretaries and support staff for the consultant. They leave because they are stressed.” He supported free movement to bring doctor’s into the country but they were needed in their homelands and more junior doctors needed to be trained here.
JM: “The pension reforms were a mistake. People need an incentive to work with more money in their pocket. If a consultant is losing money and tax poor they will want to work less. Our plan is to put 33.9 billion into the NHS for pay rises. We need to train more doctors. We need an immigration system that works to bring consultants across borders. We’re building new hospitals for doctor’s to work in. Here in Brighton we had a Florence Nightingale building still a hospital after 200 years. We need to invest in our buildings.”
BB: “A major issue is the NHS is chronically underfunded and creates a workplace that is unattractive. People don’t want to work in a hospital building that’s falling apart being underpaid working long hours. Our flagship policy is a penny in the pound income tax for the NHS and social care services. This will bring £35 billion for the NHS to improve buildings, ambulances to create a nicer environment for doctor’s an nurses to work.. We’ll also restore the nursing bursaries. Free movement is essential 65,000 people from the EU work in the NHS and we want to make sure they stay here.”
RM: “The NHS should be our top priority because it is a service we all need. We need less bureaucracy and more common sense. At present as well as people we train we have to attract people from overseas. We need qualified doctors and nurses from overseas. We don’t need free movement of people for that, we need free movement of qualified doctors and nurses. Instead of hoping people will turn up I would like to see our embassies and consulates abroad going out and finding these assets.” He wanted to take immigration away from the Home Office and under the Department of Trade and Industry.
CL: “There is something immoral about going out and hunting for the best doctors from West Africa and Asia where doctors are really needed in those communities. I am passionate supporter of free movement and standing up for immigration. There is something slightly unpleasant about going and choosing assets from the poorest countries without thinking whether they’re needed in those areas. Let’s see an end to the toxic environment let’s have a welcoming environment but something moral about this, too.” She said the NHS had been run down and investment was needed for people working in it now.
What are your party’s priorities apart from Brexit?
BB: “We have a climate emergency and it is five to 12. Liberal Democrats have fought to tackle climate change, it is one of our key concerns. In government we doubled renewable energy and made Britain a world leader in off shore wind technology. We set up the Green Growth Group in Europe and introduced the 5p plastic bag. We want to build on that. We want to spend £100 billion on climate action and environmental protection to make sure Britain is carbon neutral at the earliest possible date.”
JM: “We need to focus on the NHS, we’re all born in it, we all die in it, we all need it at some point in our lives. By delivering the £500 million investment in the Royal Sussex County Hospital, real money not PFI. We need to deliver more funding for schools so every child can get the best opportunity in life and achieve their aspirations because that’s how we become prosperous, not by holding people down but by lifting them up. People need to feel safer on the streets. In Sussex we have increased police officers and PCSOs on the street.”
RM: “Our priorities in this country are all wrong. The NHS is of first importance. Something that is important to me is last year there were 1.6 million visits to food banks in this country. There are 16 food banks in Brighton that handed out 20,000 parcels last year. In the fifth largest economy in the world we should not have one visit to a food bank let alone more than one million. Westminster has lost touch with people in this country. It’s no wonder they’re ignoring the referendum, they’re ignoring everything else as well.”
LRM: “Our top priority is to make sure this country will survive in the future. We have a target to zero net carbon by 2030, we will set out a pathway to get there in each industry and each sector because there is no point in setting targets around wishful thinking. We will invest in 300,000 new jobs in green technologies, it is a disgrace that wind farm production companies are closing down rather than opening up.” He criticised falling Conservative underfunding of education and the NHS and cuts to PCSOs in Sussex.
CL: “I am pleased other parties have woken up to the environmental and climate crisis, if you want the real thing vote Green because we are the ones who will help them understand how to make this transition. I am glad Labour has caught up with the Green New Deal as I was proud to be one of the co-founders of the group in 2007. It is important to recognise you cannot achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 you cannot support regional airport expansion.” She said government needs to work with workers, unions and communities to make sure they are not paying the price for the transition.
What role does the UK have to play in tackling poverty at home and globally?
CL: “We need to increase the aid budget to one per cent of GDP and look closely at our trade policies. We have an inconsistency between the aid budget being used well while our trade policies are impoverishing so many countries all over the world. I worked for Oxfam for ten years and saw first hand how trade policy can be devastating when you force open the market of smaller countries. Where the industries have barely had a chance to grow.”
LRM: “The arms trade is a disgrace. In Yemen we giving government credits, they don’t even pay us for arms sent to Saudi Arabia sometimes. Then they go on and bomb British aid establishments in Yemen. They’re bombing that country to smithereens for no reason. For too long we talk about emergency assistance, but we need to think about proper sustainable development and empower women to be able to take a role in their communities.”
BB: “We will dedicate 0.7 per cent of GDP to international development. Our aim is to promote liberal values we promote in this country world wide. That means fighting for equality and the rights of minority groups. We want to abolish the death penalty world wide. It is important to invest in education to liberate women and for people to choose their own future. We want to invest in an impartial news service, the BBC World Service.”
RM: “There’s been a policy of targets but after spending trillions of pounds but is the money going where it should be. Rather than having financial targets, aid would be available on a project basis, such as clean drinking water and this would be monitored. If this is delivered then more money is made available.”
JM: “Education of young people, especially women around the globe is something we support as well as our trade. The EU is protectionist and Brexit gives us the opportunity for lower tariffs for fruit and veg from countries outside the EU. We need investment into countries to increase prosperity and economic growth.”
There are schools across Brighton and Hove where children take in materials that used to be provided by schools. Classes are getting bigger, resources are getting smaller, our children’s mental heath issues are increasing. What would you do about the educational crisis?
LRM: “We would end the rip off of academisation. It was a big mistake. It continued and had bells and whistles added by New Labour and is being exploited in a nasty way by this Conservative government. Local authorities can put their resources rather than going to the private sector. The government needs to step up for children with SEN and learning difficulties.”
JM: “Leadership starts at the top and we need a diversity of choice for parents for them to send their children to. I didn’t see Lloyd protesting outside Moulsecoomb Primary School when they were failing children year on year when their outcomes dropped and their life chances for too long have been too low. We will be increasing funding, £4,000 for primary schools and £5,000 for secondaries.”
BB: “Out schools have a massive problem. There are save our schools banners everywhere. Some schools are even crowdfunding to keep going. It’s mad. The Lib Dems have announced £10 billion emergency cash injection to help. We would approve 20,000 more teachers to reduce class sizes. We are going to raise wages to starting salaries of £30,000 and raise wages to help teachers.”
RM: “I would re-priorities public expenditure, NHS at the top and education at the top not the bottom where it is at the moment.”
CL: “There is a crisis in our schools. Our schools have good leadership, what they don’t have is the finances they need to make those schools work. I have spoken with head teachers who are weeping because they don’t know which of their special educational needs teachers to keep because they can’t keep all of them. Head teachers who are cleaning the schools themselves. I spoken to them bringing food in for young people. It is a major crisis. We need to put the money into those schools, respect our teachers, let teachers teach, stop the over testing and get rid of Ofsted.”
RM: “I invite you to consider the consequences of allowing decisions to be made by a small group of people in Westminster. Cast your vote wisely.”
BB: “What we want is a glimmer of hope that things will get better. We’ll have a great parliament and great people in parliament. You the electorate can make this happen. If you want a change vote Lib Dem.”
CL: “Young people, your futures are being trashed by the older generation and by this government. When it comes to Brexit I am worried your future is being sold out. All the benefits of EU membership are being pulled up the ladder. There is the environment and climate crisis so your future is quite literally at stake.”
LRM: “We have a broken electoral system. Use your vote wisely to ensure we don’t end up crashing out with no deal or end up with an MP in Kemptown who voted Brexit. It was a choice by the Lib Dems and Conservatives nine years ago to start that downward spiral. We can do better in this country by voting Labour.”
JM: “We have before us the opportunity for a decade of renewal. It is time to move on. History tells us that Marxism and the politics of envy, bringing the top down and not having millionaires, it doesn’t work. If you believe in having a socially liberal one nation open-minded Conservative, vote for us in Kemptown, Pavilion and Hove.”
The deadline for registering to vote in this year’s general election is 11.59pm on Tuesday 26 November.
To register visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.