Abi Parkinson vs. the World

1st Apr 2011 - Andrew Howe

Abi and some of the pannel membersOn the evening of Friday 25th March, Socialist Students took part in a political societies debate on the topic of government spending cuts. The debate took on a 'Question Time' format, with panelists present from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal, Freedom, and Socialist student societies. Abi Parkinson, a third year student, was the Socialist panelist.

Most of the panelists' arguments were unsurprisingly lackluster. The Conservatives blamed previous Labour governments, Labour said cuts were “unavoidable” but should be carried out fairly and with Labour's “care of the country” in mind, and the Freedom Association spoke of “living within our means” and described the cuts simply as “savings”. Abi was the only panelist to say no to all cuts, and to put forward a strategy of creating jobs, not cutting them.

The ideas the main parties put forward were as flawed and useless as their arguments. The Conservatives not only said outrageously that we should “increase the defense budget” but that, “[We should] not blame the banks... let's help people”, and suggested that the way to do this was through the “big society” and “big contributions from local people”. This only highlighted the Tories' one desire: to help big business. The Liberals were equally as useless, putting forward their 'solution' of cracking down on tax avoidance to generate an extra £1 bn annually, a measly amount compared to the total £120 bn avoided in tax each year by big business, as shown by the PCS.

The Labour pannelist pleads his caseThe panelists went on to highlight the failings of their own ideas. “It takes you back to the Soviet era,” said the Freedom Association panelist, in the context of the government's control of industry in the public sector. “Look at the massive success of America.” A truly ludicrous statement, given the huge problems currently faced by the US in terms of spiraling unemployment and ballooning debt. The clueless Labour panelist also chimed into the debate with, “I suspect ideology has something to do with it.” Aside from the fact that any educated person could clearly see that the savage cuts were ideological in nature, the Conservatives had already openly said as much. Perhaps even more inept were the Conservative and Liberal candidates, with the Conservative panelist paying little attention and having to continuously ask for questions to be repeated, and the Liberal panelist not knowing what to say for most of the debate, relying instead on notes and comments passed to him from the Conservative panelist. They were not an inspiring picture of the supposed leaders of tomorrow.

In the end, Abi was the only candidate to put forward a real alternative, and to suggest practical solutions to the problems of the current global economic crisis. Hopefully the debate was the first of many. As more and more young people look for political ideas and solutions to the increasingly desperate situations they find themselves in, socialists need to be on hand to raise socialist ideas at every debate and political event. Only with organized and informed layers of society can the failed capitalist system be overturned.

Come to our next meeting: Banner making, Tuesday November 1st at 19:30, Nuffield Theatre Room B