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Question Time with Desmond Swayne


Your local MP, a hall full of students and plenty of taxing questions. On the 4th November, Desmond Swayne, the New Forest West MP, spoke to Burgate Sixth Formers about his role in Parliament and his views on today’s problems. What he didn’t realise was that he would be facing a room of inquisitive and politically-aware students ready to express their views.

During the talk the students were able to put their own questions to the MP. Mr Swayne received one interrogation after another and each time he offered his explanation. The politician spoke about a number of issues, including Conservative plans for economic growth, his opinion on the war in Iraq and how he mysteriously changed his viewpoint on gay rights claiming that, ‘Politicians have the right to change their minds.’ Even his personal expenses claims were brought into question. Though, there was of course, one topic that every student wanted to talk about, the rise in university tuition fees. Here came the most direct questions, leaving Mr Swayne nowhere to hide. Staying loyal to his party he assured students that, “This regime is much more generous to poorer students” but he was unable to allay their concerns about a debt ridden future.

Head of The Burgate Sixth Form, Mrs Louise Burns remarked, “I was very impressed by the charmingly challenging approach adopted by our Sixth Formers during the Q and A section. They covered a surprisingly extensive range of subjects but most provocative of all were the points made about the rise in student tuition fees. Overall it proved an entertaining and thought provoking visit for all parties!”

Intelligent questions were asked and confident responses were given by a man forced to defend his beliefs to his prospective voters. However one question still remains; will these students be giving Mr Swayne their vote when the next election comes …

Emily Adams

Senior Student Editor

Head Boy David Cakebread caught up with Desmond Swayne in Westminster. David was invited to Swayne’s Parliamentary office after he wrote to David Cameron’s Private Secretary about the prospect of a referendum on Europe.

“On Monday 24th October, I attended the now widely publicised debate on the UK’s future in Europe at the House of Commons. My local Member of Parliament, Desmond Swayne, kindly agreed to meet me, and he showed me around various areas of Parliament before leading me to the chamber where the debate was to take place. The controversy surrounding the ‘Eurozone’ was interesting as was the opportunity to hear the views of many senior MPs on the issue.

The debate focused on whether or not to hold a referendum on our involvement in Europe, a motion that was widely disagreed with across all major parties, yet still sparked disagreement among many back-benchers. Swayne made it clear to me that he felt the motion was ‘preposterous’ and was prepared to vote alongside the Government that evening to prevent the public from having a say on the matter. However, despite the 3-line whip put in place by the Conservatives, 81 of their MPs voted in favour of the motion, and many of these lost their senior positions in Government as a result of their actions.

Overall, it was an interesting experience that opened my eyes to the control that political parties have over their members in order to influence the way they vote. Although, as expected, the motion lost heavily, it still demonstrated the small but growing uprising against the Government on just one issue”.

David Cakebread