Our moderator, Bootham School head teacher Chris Jeffery – who has done an excellent job of chairing the debate – thanks the candidates for the impressive way they have conducted the debate, which others nationally could learn from.
And he thanks all the people at Bootham School who have done such a brilliant job of hosting the debate, including the polls and multi media elements – singling out James Ratcliffe who has organised the whole shebang.
And then the closing polls came out. And the clear victor tonight is Andrew Snedden of the Yorkshire Party! Here are the voting intentions of the Bootham School hustings audience…
What act would you perform in the Bootham School cabaret on Friday if you won the election?
James Blanchard: I would do a song and dance routine based on Guy Fawkes to emphasise the need for more honesty in politics
Andrew Dunn: Considering the SDP have virtually no chance of winning, I think it would have to be a magic act!
Tom Franklin: The only cabaret I ever did was a fund raising version of The Full Monty – and I did a strip!
Rachael Maskell: Our spirits are going to be so high that we are going to have a collective sing to celebrate a Labour victory together. The Red Flag of course
Andrew Snedden: I’d have to do a one-man show of the Four Yorkshireman in an Australian accent.
Nicholas Szkiler: I used to be a DJ – but would quote some poetry about being a moth (which he did impressively from memory).
Fabia Tate: I have learned to stilt walk and fire juggle but I wouldn’t do both at the same time because it would be dangerous.
A one-word answer is required. James, Andrew and Fabia all said PR – proportional representation was the answer. Rachael joked Labour is going to win so it doesn’t matter.
From a former nurse: There are 42K nursing vacancies and recruitment is in crisis. How will your party address this?
Andrew Dunn: The SDP is committed to the NHS. We want to commit to training more nurses in this country, and to allow people to be a nurse without a degree.
Rachael Maskell: I spent 20 years working in the NHS and it breaks my heart to see it going back 20 years. It won’t just be solved by throwing money at it. We need to improve public health. Investing in education is very important. With the cuts in nursing bursaries we’ve seen a downturn in applications. We need to reverse that. We need proper workforce planning across the health service, they do it in Scotland and it works – we need to do the same in the rest of the country.
James Blanchard: I also work in the NHS. The reduction in overseas applications from the EU is crucial. It’s tied in to the cut in bursaries. We will bring in a lifelong skills wallet – money to invest in your training throughout your career. People will change career throughout their working life. There’s also a problem with GP recruitment, many are due to retire in the next few years – then try getting an appointment.
Nicholas Szkiler: With a disabled daughter I am a beneficiary of the NHS and passionately believe in it. We would reopen the nursing profession to people without a degree qualification. One millstone is the Labour initiative of the Private Finance Initiative – those schemes should be bought out. The huge interest rates being paid out on PFI could be invested in nursing bursaries.
Tom Franklin: Retention hasn’t been mentioned and that is hugely important. Allowing people to choose different ways of working might help retention. We want to abolish student fees and cancel existing student debt, which might encourage more people to study nursing.
Fabia Tate: After Brexit we can look beyond the EU to recruit nurses from elsewhere in the world, via an Australian style points system on immigration. Putting more money into the NHS to reduce the burdens on GPs and A&E is important. We need to plan to meet future demands now.
Andrew Snedden: It’s shocking that vital public services have been understaffed by tens of thousands of people. If Yorkshire had its own budget, we would have a much better chance of solving the problem.
What are the local issues for York in this election?
Nicholas Skilzer: Transportation. I go to old cities like ours who have solved it with things like trams so there’s no need to bring your car into the centre. We need to unblock the arteries of the city.
Tom Franklin: We’re losing a lot of jobs, seeing places replaced by hotels, lots of low-paid, zero hours jobs. We need to bring in better jobs, and not just low-paying tourism. How can we have tourists have a more interesting and vital experience, rather than more and more tourists? Mental health provision is poor. And the climate emergency, we are a very low-lying town, most of York is under 10m and will be underwater. We need to solve this problem.
James Blanchard: We need someone to go to Westminster and fight for the money for local schools, to bring our transport system up to scratch, and for health. York Hospital is being run down compared to the big hospitals in Leeds and Middlesbrough. To solve the mental health crisis – that means spending a lot of money, and that’s why we will put a penny on income tax.
Rachael Maskell: The biggest issue is housing. Our social housing stock is being depleted. We have an ambitious programme to build council housing for sale and for rent. I’ve seen families squashed in a single boxroom in York. Also we’ve got to get upstream with the investment, particularly on public health – making sure people stay well for longer. That means investing in youth services. And we need a comprehensive economic strategy for York.
Andrew Snedden: “We want to put a Yorkshire Assembly in York. Somewhere near Clifford’s Tower would be nice.” If we had control of our budgets, local people could spend it wisely where it needs to be spent here. We need to sort out the main traffic arteries, and vehicular access down near the hospital – that’s a nightmare, I live near there. We have this fantastic ancient city centre – if this was France we wouldn’t have vehicles going down there.
Andrew Dunn: Giving mental health the same status as physical health. Tackling homelessness. Some of these things are about getting the national money to deal with it.
Fabia Tate: There are 500 houses in York that haven’t been lived in, they may be second houses. Let’s address that on a local level and stop these spaces being empty. We have some of the highest educated people in York working in Leeds. We have to attract businesses so people from Leeds come to work in York. I would like the city to lead the way on green public transport. We’ve got the Uber software technology, I don’t know why we’re not pushing that into public transport.
What will your party do to provide global solutions to environmental problems?
Tom Franklin: We want to increase international aid, a lot of the funding will go to support countries to become carbon neutral. We need to deal with the airline industry and shipping, we need to work with countries like Brazil to protect the Amazon.
Nicholas Szkiler: Most people don’t understand the science. Carbon is not the only issue. Down the road at Drax power station they use biomass – growing trees to burn them – it’s ridiculous. We need innovative solutions to deal with pollution. THere is limitless tidal power available – and it doesn’t generate carbon.
Rachael Maskell: We all need to look at our lifestyles: I try and live the greenest way I possibly can. It’s incredibly arrogant of the UK government to say it will lead the world – we have to work in collaboration with other countries. We have to look at how we work in cooperation with global agreements – that’s the strength of the EU. Climate justice is about everybody’s justice.
James Blanchard: We’ve got to get rid of Brexit because we need to work together on the climate emergency. We are not going to change the world if we retreat to our small island. If we are talking about flights, and manufacturing standards, it matters that we change the world’s playbook, not just Britain’s. We can export green electricity to our neighbours via wind turbines made in Hull – but we need access to European markets to do that.
Andrew Dunn: The SDP document emphasises economic incentives. Britain can be an independent country and still do all it can on a global level, we can still do the same for the environment as if we were in the EU.
Andrew Snedden: We would declare a Yorkshire-wide climate emergency, and ban fracking. We can’t save the planet on our own, but we can provide a moral imperative to get people to join us, we can provide a powerful example to others, and we can use UK soft power to bring pressure to bear on the big emitters. We need to remove household gas boilers and properly insulate our largely Victorian housing stock and plant millions of trees.
Fabia Tate: This is one of the most important issues we are facing, and we can’t face it alone. I don’t think it’s arrogant of Conservatives to say we should be leading the way. We are putting £18bn into research and development, we need to be investing in ways to revolutionise the green market. Developments in battery power and renewables show what can be done. I am pleased that the Conservatives brought in a moratorium on fracking.
Question 2: What will you and your government do to bridge the ever-growing economic equality which is felt across the country?
Rachael Maskell: Labour’s agenda is about addressing the huge inequality. York is the most inequitable city outside London. “We have to mend that divide.”
To do that you need properly paid, secure jobs; properly funded public services; “we have the fourth worst funded schools in the country”. We need the right investment in the right places.
Fabia Tate: we’re the party of working people, the party of aspiration. We’ll increase the minimum wage, support business to create more jobs, and are looking at schooling to introduce more vocational T-levels.
There will be 250K more affordable homes built in the next four years.
James Blanchard: We have a massively imbalanced economy – it’s a problem with our capital city, London. London gets far more money spent on its schools and public transport. Lib Dems argue for regional devolution, not just for Yorkshire but for every region.
Andrew Snedden: There’s a huge difference between those who are doing well and those who are not doing well. There’s a massive London and the rest divide.
Andrew Dunn: We want to be compassionate and competitive. We will raise tax funds to eradicate serious social problems like homelessness and improving the NHS.
Tom Franklin: We will introduce Universal Basic Income, to replace among other things the pension and Universal Credit. That would mean everyone has something.
Nicholas Szkiler: North Yorkshire Police are dealing with almost as much time dealing with mental health care as they are with policing issues. Because of underfunding in mental health care we have pushed a problem elsewhere. We need joined up thinking to make progress
We livestreamed the candidates’ opening remarks on Facebook. Here’s the video
This comes from a member of the Bootham School lower sixth. He asks if misinformation in the referendum campaign means a second referendum is necessary.
Fabia Tate: “We need to get Brexit done. There was misinformation on all sides.” She is against a second referendum.
Tom Franklin: “There was serious fraud in the Brexit campaign, so much so that a judge said he would have declared it void.” A second referendum is the only fair way to sort this out.
Nichoals Szkiler: “What was really wanted was reform, because the European Union is seriously undemocratic… The question we were given was simple enough… the decision of the people was to leave.”
James Blanchard quotes former Brexit Secretary David Davis who said if a democracy can’t change its mind, then it’s not a democracy. “We were told we would have the easiest trade deal because we hold all the cards – where is this easy trade deal?”
“This general election has been called because the Prime Minister thinks you’ve changed your minds since 2017. But you can’t possibly have changed your mind since 2016. It’s madness.”
Rachael Maskell begins by asking why the Prime Minister won’t reveal the report on alleged Russian interference in the previous election. “What has he got to hide?”
Brexit would make York poorer, she says, and she’s not going to vote for that. “I will campaign for Remain… our future is best in Europe.”
Andrew Snedden: “I voted remain but we must go… Brexit is as much about social unfairness and the third of our population who have been left behind for decades.”
Cameron “was an idiot” for the referendum. Overturning the vote would be “a disaster for democracy”.
Andrew Dunn: “It is absolutely outrageous that people aren’t respecting a democratic referendum… People in this country have never had a majority for seeing themselves as European citizens,” he said.
This is the podium set up for the York election hustings being held at Bootham School tonight.
On the panel are these York Outer candidates:
The debate should begin soon and we will keep posting regular updates.