From my friends in the north:
While the party leaders were getting ready for last night's TV debate, candidates from all parties were facing their own challenge in front of young people drawn from all over the Highlands at Action for Children's Quiz the Biz event in Inverness.
After exploring stalls from all the parties and taking part in political speed-dating with candidates, the climax of the evening was a secret ballot conducted by Highland Returning Officer Alistair Dodds. The same event in 2007 sucessfully predicted the outcome of the main election a few weeks later.
After meeting Highland candidates Liberal Democrats Christine Jardine & Alan MacRae, as well as Fergus Ewing & John Finnie from the SNP, Mary Scanlon and Karensa Carr from the Tories, Rhoda Grant and Linda Stewart from Labour and Eleanor Scott from the Greens, the votes of the young people of the Highlands were as follows:
- Lib Dem 18 (38%)
- SNP 13 (28%)
- Labour 11 (23%)
- Green 5 (11%)
- Conservative 0
What a great idea for a debate! Political speed dating seems to be the trend of the moment as there have been a few events set up on these lines. Basically groups of people get to fire some rapid questions at politicians who then move on to the next table when a bell rings. It's quite an intense experience, but great fun, and you get much more contact than at a normal hustings meeting.
Action for Children do so much to support vulnerable children and young people. It's great to see them getting young folk interested and involved in the political process and allowing people to meet politicians not just in person but online via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (which is down right now, else I'd link to #quizthebiz.
It's also encouraging to see that young people still seem to like what the Liberal Democrats are saying.