In the third of our General Election Debates, our Pupil Election Panel gave Gerald Vernon-Jackson a grilling on the issues most important to them. He told them how he felt the Lib Dems had made some mistakes in entering the coalition, but it was a difficult situation and that they prevented the Conservatives from driving too far to the right. He described ways in which he thinks more council homes should be built in Portsmouth. He explained in detail how he has worked to ensure the Royal Navy remains in the City and that while we may need to scale back our Trident commitment, we should very much retain our deterrent as it gives us influence around the world. He did point out the importance of a surface fleet in facing the future and how keeping the new aircraft carriers in Portsmouth would ensure we keep jobs here. Moving on to the economy, he outlined the importance of deficit reduction as an aim of government, but not cutting too far. He also questioned the position of parties which intended to keep cutting once the deficit was gone. Gerald declared in favour of lowering the voting age for elections in England and outlined his opinions on ‘first-past-the-post’ compared to proportional systems which he favours. He told pupil that he felt there could be no new referendum on proportional voting systems in the next parliament as it was too soon after the last one. In closing, he said that only the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats could win in Portsmouth South and the role of Liberal Democrat MPs would be to stop the Conservatives slipping to the right or Labour slipping to the left.
Tomorrow the panel meets Mike Hancock, incumbent MP standing as an independent and Steve Harris for the United Kingdom Independence Party.