Towards the end of last year I contacted six private and four state schools, in my area, about the possibilities of talking to their sixth forms on our Agenda. I based this request on my own time at school when the last period before lunch on a Friday was given over to a current affairs lecture from an outside speaker. I have received replies from five of the private schools with promises of possibly three talks in their future programmes and one reply from the state sector, from the Richard Huish sixth form college in Taunton, to whom I gave a talk to their political society last Friday during their lunch break.
This talk was fairly easy to organise as their political society is run by the students themselves who aren't as bothered as teachers appear to be with the possibility of an unknown outsider like me potentially corrupting their delicate minds! This society is entirely voluntary and the 25 students that attended had given up their lunch break to attend. Of the 25 I would estimate 20 were girls.
Due to the restrictions in time, as they left me straight to another class, I only talked for 20 minutes which left me 20 minutes to take questions. I divided the talk into three parts starting with an introduction into my political history of, The Referendum Party, UKIP and standing as an independent as it helps explain how difficult it is to break into the existing system which is why the system needs to be radically changed. Next I placed our demands in the historical context of the time it took, between 10 and 63 years, for five of the Chartists demands to be enacted. Lastly I briefly explained each of our six demands and the reasons for them.
There were no shortage of questions and two were of particular interest form which I learnt important lessons. The first asked, as I had briefly covered how our demands required us to have left the EU, which of the EU's laws we now followed did I disagree with and I made the mistake of giving, much of the Environmental legislation, as an example. The trouble is this is just my opinion and so by giving a specific answer I had deflected the topic away from our Agenda to my own personal views on policy which no doubt left some students thinking that I was a Climate Change sceptic. On reflection a better reply would have simply been to say that my own opinions on policy are not the point but what is relevant is that all policy decisions should be made as close to the people as possible and being in the EU would never allow this to happen.
The second question suggested that while our demands placed more power in the hands of the people this particular student didn't feel she had enough knowledge for an informed opinion on some matters which she was happy to delegate to our MPs. In my reply I suggested she had far more faith in our political class than I did and that on a matter like capital punishment our politicians were out of touch with the beliefs of the people. On reflection this was again too controversial a subject and again distracted away for our Agenda to what might have appeared my own hang'em and flog'em views.
As my opinion is far more refined on this issue, I should have replied that while she did not at times feel confident to vote on an issue it should not be a reason to prevent the rest of the population, if they so wished, to vote on a proposed government bill by means of a referendum or under certain circumstances to propose legislation for the government to consider. Answering her question that way would have prevented any distraction from the main point which is that our governance needs radical reform to become more democratic bringing government closer to the people and more responsive to their wishes, views and opinions.
In conclusion the trip to Taunton was worthwhile and I was assisted by my other half who accompanied me and made a note of the questions I was asked which is the reason I was able to consider the above two question in particular and how they could have better answered. So I now feel better placed to do the same again as and when any of the other nine schools take me up on my offer to talk on our Agenda. My last point is that we are hoping this year to develop other speakers in other parts of the country to arrange similar talks to interested parties including, schools, institutions and any other bodies who might be interested. If anyone is interested in helping to spread the word please get in touch.