Hustings for your Future was Godalming and Ash’s green hustings – but with a twist – people without a vote got to ask the questions. Monday’s event was a chance for school eco-council members to ask candidates questions what their plans are for halting the climate emergency.


As you can see from the photos, not all the candidates were there. Some had legitimate family commitments, others weren’t so forthcoming with their reasons for not being there. Some sent statements to be read, others didn’t. Despite this, it was a very worthwhile event with four local schools participating.

We had representatives from Broadwater, Rodborough, Loseley Fields and Godalming Junior schools and Cllrs Paul Follows for the Liberal Democrats and Steve Williams for the Greens were there to answer the young people’s thoughtful, well-considered questions. (Steve Williams was there representing the Green party on behalf of candidate Ruby Tucker).

It was an uplifting event, depsite the serious nature of the topic. The enthusiasm from the young people in the room was truly inspiring. They were extremely keen to have their concerns heard by the people who want to represent our constituency in Westminster.

We wanted to give a voice to the voiceless generation on what we believe to be the biggest challenge of our time – the climate crisis. It was important for us to organise the event because historically it’s hard to think of to think of another serious issue that a younger generation inherits as a consequence of inaction from previous generations.

This generation cares deeply about the climate emergency as shown in recent studies. Girls Attitudes report 2023 released by Girlguiding revealed that girls feel there is too much responsibility placed on young people to solve the climate crisis and would like more action from the government and older generations. 65% of those surveyed are angry that adults have damaged the environment and that their generation will have to deal with it.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published a 2023 report revealing a staggering rise in eco-anxiety among younger generations. It states that 75% of children and young people want stronger government action on climate change, 64% of young people believe their government is not doing enough to prevent a climate catastrophe, and 64% of children and young people believe their government did not take their concerns seriously.

On Monday, the young people in the room got to share their concerns, and I think their questions will inspire more action from the adults who attended. The effects of the climate emergency are felt disproportionally by the poorest and most vulnerable, and threatens the lives of our young and future generations. The people we elect must not only represent those who can vote, but must also consider future generations, the people who currently can’t vote.

After all the previously submitted questions had been asked, our chair Maddie Evans opened it up to the floor. A slightly off-topic question “How do you think Brexit is going?” got a laugh from the audience. It was the final question that got a round of applause. It came from Isla who asked how the panellists how they would make sure they would continue to listen to children’s voices in the future. It was a perfect question to end on, and summarised well with “by turning up”.

As one mother put it “The children had the opportunity to have their concerns heard by people who took them seriously and who spent time after the session talking individually to those who didn’t get a chance to speak…it was a great introduction to politics for the children who participated.”


Many environmental activists were expecting this election to be the climate election. But you hear some stump speeches and you’d think the UK hadn’t even declared a climate emergency. Sometimes it takes the youngest voices in our communities to remind us what is most important.

Many thanks to Broadwater school for hosting, all the children for their brilliant questions, the teachers and parents who made sure they were there and the volunteers and candidates who helped make it a night to remember.

 

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NB The following candidates were invited

  • Conservative Jeremy Hunt politely declined the invitation and sent a statement to be read.
  • Labour’s James Walsh declined and sent no statement.
  • Reform’s Graham Drage had planned to attend but then said it was the only day he could collect his daughter from university. He sent no statement.
  • Harriet Williams from the Women’s Equality party had planned to attend – she loved the idea of a school, climate-focused hustings – but she had childcare issues and sent a statement to be read.

 

A three-year-old oak sapling also sat on the panel to represent nature and to remind us all why we were in the room.