Ahead of the coming Birmingham Metro Mayor Election, the Guild of Students was pleased to facilitate Candidate Q+A sessions with all announced candidates within our building to allow students to interrogate the policies of their potential representatives.
On 6th January 2017, after these initial arrangements were undertaken, it was announced that Pete Durnell would contest the mayoral election as a UKIP candidate. Due to the regulations in place for the coming mayoral election, the Guild of Students has been required to offer an invitation to a campus Q+A session to Mr Durnell – or to risk the cancellation of all 4 established Q+A sessions, preventing the student body’s opportunity to debate the polices of the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green candidates for mayor.
The Guild of Students is aware that members of our student body may feel that UKIP positions – and the views of many of its candidates –have the potential to breach our equal opportunities or zero tolerance policies. We are also aware that other members of the student body may welcome the opportunity to challenge those UKIP policies that they oppose, in the spirit of open debate and freedom of expression, which is itself protected by law.
The Guild’s existing No Platform Policy (which can be amended by any student through the Your Ideas system) does not make reference to UKIP. We also note that, were an invitation not to be extended to Mr Durnell, we would be unable to host the other 4 candidates on campus without difficulty nor would there be an opportunity to challenge those UKIP policies that many of our students currently oppose.
All the previous Q+A sessions have featured a short introduction to the West Midlands Mayoral elections from the University, followed by an opportunity for the candidate to speak 15 minutes. 40 minutes of questions from students will follow, chaired by the President of the Guild. We hope these events will give students the opportunity to raise issues they care about and hold the candidates to account on their plans to Birmingham.