Alexandra Phillips – tipped to become the Greens' second MEP in the South East and one of a new wave of Green MEPs across the country in this month's Euro elections – is this lunchtime to attend a hustings and debate at Uckfield Community Technology College. Within the hustings, she will be calling for an immediate end to tuition fees and a new youth franchise with voting from the age of 16.
Alexandra, who is the youngest councillor in Brighton & Hove, at the age of 27, and No 2 on the Green Party's list of European Parliamentary candidates in the South East, will also be debating the question "Should the UK withdraw from the EU?"
On tuition fees, Councillor Phillips will be saying: "No government can justify high tuition fees. In fact, the entire tuition fees system needs to be scrapped. The Greens share the University and College Union's (UCU) position that what we need instead is a business education tax where the top 4% of UK companies pay a bit more in corporation tax to meet the cost of higher education in Britain. After all, it is the private sector that benefits greatly from a well-educated workforce."
On the voting age, Councillor Phillips will be saying: "Greens have been long-time advocates for lowering the voting age to 16 to give more young people, especially those still in compulsory education, the opportunity to exercise a vote when it comes to issues that will directly affect them. If 16 year olds had the vote in 2004 when Tony Blair and the last Labour Government introduced tuition fees, then we might not have the current system where students are expected to pay up to £9K."
Councillor Phillips will also be saying: "We need a fair and transparent immigration system. Too often migrants are easy scapegoats for right-wing newspapers and parties for political gain. The truth is, if someone is over here, in paid employment, then they are paying their taxes. In a country run by millionaire Etonians with privileged upbringing, the claim that Eastern Europeans are the cause of all our problems is simply deflecting the blame from the real reasons for wage inequality, lack of adequate housing and poor public services."
And on the NHS: "The Coalition Government is engaging in the biggest assault on the NHS since its foundation over 60 years ago. The Government has opened up the national health service to privateers who are seeking to make a profit, not putting the care of patients first and foremost. Labour also have to accept that Tony Blair laid the foundations for private sector involvement. The NHS needs to be restored and return to its founding values, rather than put on the market by Government’s and flogged off like so many other British utilities."
In the debate on EU membership, Councillor Phillips will be saying: "The Greens' policy on Europe is simple: yes to a referendum, then yes to staying in and yes to major reforms to make Europe more accountable and a place that puts people first, not big business."
The event will begin at approx 12.25pm, attended by about 300 students of the community college.