This year’s 'The Bubble Debate', acting as Hustings for the Executive Elections, started off late due to some technical difficulties. However, these were soon resolved and it made for an evening packed full of serious discussions, as well as some perhaps not so serious on the part of candidate Chris McKenna and what some are naming 'Carrotgate'…
To kick things off, our host for the evening Connor Pearce introduced us to the 'Firing Squad', which included Jago Pearson, Chris Carter, Rachael Stone and Jon Constantiou. These four played a crucial role in really scrutinising this year’s candidates and their manifesto points.
David Haines and Hannah Chrisp, both running for VP Democracy and Communications, were the first two candidates to face the fury of the Firing Squad as well as members of the audience.
Main manifesto points of each as well as reaching out to students in town were issues discussed.
It seemed to be going well for both candidates, yet two members of the Firing Squad didn’t seem to think so; Pearson stating that both were “two of the weakest candidates from across the board,” perhaps one of the most contentious things to have been said at yesterday evening’s debate. Carter also questioned Chrisp as to why she didn’t fill the empty space on Union Council for the Maths Department, raising the question as to whether Chrisp has enough experience for the role.
Label had the chance to speak to Haines after the debate in which he said, “Democracy should be contested, it’s just a shame that there aren’t more candidates." When Label asked him how he felt about Pearson’s comment he remained very professional and stated that “Jago is entitled to his own opinion."
Josh Hurrell, uncontested Union President candidate, was next to take to the spotlight.
Like the candidates before, his main manifesto points were discussed as well as topics such as the Exec being considered as puppets to full time staff, the relationship between the Union and the University and the 'fluffiness' of Hurrell’s manifesto. However, despite the pressure, Hurrell did exceptionally well and Pearson even went as far as saying that he was an “exceptionally good Union President Candidate.”
Post debate Hurrell told Label, “I actually really enjoyed it once I was up there. I was kind of a bit anxious as I wasn’t sure what questions were going to be asked." He also spoke of his being uncontested: “Part of me wants to be contested, you want to prove that you are the best candidate. It would be nice to beat someone because I do believe that I could."
Label also asked Hurrell how he felt about his manifesto being called 'fluffy': “It’s very hard to back up every point in my manifesto as there aren’t enough words. I can see where he is coming from with certain things like ‘every student matters’, but I personally think there is substance to it."
Next up were candidates for VP Finance and Commercial Services – Zak Evans and Chris McKenna. This was probably the weirdest section of the debate, which included McKenna walking on to set with a tin of canned carrots stating that they were his good luck charm.
Despite the bogus McKenna, Zak still shone through as a brilliant candidate for the role and showed that he had more than enough competence to undertake the role of VP Finance, and also stated that he was willing to learn.
Label asked candidate Zak Evans how he felt about fellow candidate Chris McKenna, “Personally, it’s not for me to comment on Chris’s policies or the way he is going about his campaign. I’m focused on my campaign and my campaign only.” Zak’s professional attitude stands him in good stead, however he also seemed concerned that he could potentially lose votes to someone who is joking around, stating “I hope the students of Loughborough vote based on substance and what they think can actually be done to the union, as opposed to something that is perhaps unachievable and not at the best interests of the students.”
Uncontested candidate for VP Education, Becky Lauder-Fletcher, was next up.
She came under fire from certain members of the panel, who criticised one of her manifesto points regarding postgraduate funding, stating that it was something out of Lauder-Fletcher’s control and responsibility. During the debate she admitted that it probably wasn’t a “100% feasible” manifesto point, but stated that it could potentially be talked about with the University."
Unfortunately, Label was unable to speak with Lauder-Fletcher post debate, leaving many questions unanswered.
The final position to be covered last night was VP: Welfare and Diversity; consisting of candidates David Tingle, Isobel Ford and Maz Haider.
All candidates acknowledged the importance of talking to students and getting their thoughts on what they want and need from the Union. Tingle made a bold promise to talk to 500 students per week, Ford stated that she wants to fashion a drop in session for students to voice their opinions and Haider pushed his manifesto point to bring cultural societies together.
Other issues discussed were: The Better Decisions campaign, international students, sober freshers and the idea of 'blacking up' in the Union and racial insults.
During a relatively calm debate, Tingle became extremely passionate in a heated moment of defending himself over the 'mis-representation of the truth'. Label had the chance to question him on this after The Bubble Debate in which he said, “I wasn’t planning on that to be honest, but I saw earlier Jago pulling out both candidates for being the worst candidates ever. And it just brings people down, elections should be fun and comments like that just brings people down.”
Label also had the chance to speak with Izzie Ford, asking her what she thought of Rachael Stone’s statement regarding Izzie’s gender and her potential advantage over the other male candidates. Izzie responded by saying “I don’t think that this is true at all, and with such strong contenders, I don’t feel it gives me any advantage.” However, despite Izzie’s unassuming response it was clear to hear that she received the biggest cheer from The Bubble Debate audience when arriving onstage.
With all that said, the first night of 'The Bubble Debate' Hustings was a huge success and all candidates seemed to relish the opportunities that it provided for them.