On Tuesday March 1st Politics and International relations society and the Debating society collaborated to hold a night of political debate featuring student representatives of the major welsh assembly parties. The night featured Aron McGill (Labour) Chloe Hutchinson (Liberal Democrats) Simon Crundell (Conservatives) Rhydian Fitter (Plaid Cymru) and Matt Wall as the Chair. Student representatives battled each other over the key issues facing the parties this election period, including Health, Education and the ongoing topic of further welsh devolution. The topic of health was undertaken first with Aron McGill coming out strong in defence of the welsh governments record on the NHS in Wales.
The Plaid Cymru and Conservative representatives heavily disagreed, with significant focus being made on the difference in essential waiting times between Wales and England. Chloe Hutchinson came out against the discussion arguing that the issues of the welsh NHS came down to it’s over politicisation. The next topic of education became very heavily focused on the issue of academy schools and their effectiveness in improving standards of education. Simon Crundell came out in strong support of academy schools, though this was heavily attacked by the labour representative Aron McGill.
While both the Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrat representatives gave strong arguments on improving education in Wales, the discussion was dominated by the passionate arguments of the conservative and labour representatives. The final topic of the night was on devolution and whether the Assembly should obtain greater powers and autonomy from Westminster. All representatives were of the opinion that greater devolution for Wales was a good thing, even Simon Crundell the conservative representative, argued that the Assembly was clearly competent enough to make its own decisions, though argued there was a clear lack of accountability under the current system. The discussion extended to the current proposed Wales bill, which has been argued by the welsh government and other significant parties in the assembly, to turn back the clock on devolution.
Rhydian Fitter the Plaid Cymru representative further argued this claim, suggesting the previous method of devolution was significantly better, and heavily criticised the Westminster government for their proposed use of a welsh veto over legislation in Wales. The debate was followed by a short question and answer session with the representatives. Topics ranged from further discussion of the welsh NHS, to what proportion of Ukip Ams that would exist following the election in May. Chloe Hutchinson gave the largest estimate that being 5 list seats, while Aron McGill gave the lower of 2 to 3. The debate was well attended and professionally done. Both societies should be proud of their ability to run such a smooth and passionate debate with no significant issues. Ukip, The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and the Green party were invited to the debate, though they either did not respond, or could not attend. The politics and International Society will be hosting further debates and speaking events in the future, including a discussion on Britain’s continuing membership of the EU.