General election 2019: Would be Tory MP calls for a ‘lot more love’ to tackle knife crime in Milton Keynes as a Lib Dem disagrees with her own party’s tuition fees policy

A would-be Tory MP has called for ‘a lot more love’ to help defeat the scourge of knife crime in Milton Keynes.

Five general election candidates vying for a seat in Parliament faced a grilling from hundreds of students at Walton High School on Wednesday afternoon.

From left: Stephen Fulton (Ind); Alan Francis (Green) and Hannah O'Neill (Lab)

From left: Stephen Fulton (Ind); Alan Francis (Green) and Hannah O'Neill (Lab)

“It’s going to take resources, and time and a lot of love,” said Ben Everitt, who is standing for the Tories in MK North, as he responded to a question from student George Benson. He had asked what the candidates would do to make people safe.

Later on in the afternoon, Mr Everitt added: “We need to add much more love and listening to the way we interact with young people.”

The Conservative candidate also spoke of a first wave of 183 new police officers using stop and search powers, and in “diversionary” activities to take young people away from “bad influences.”

Labour’s Hannah O’Neill, standing in MK South, referred to a decision she had made in her role as a leading Milton Keynes Councillor to deal with children who have speech and language difficulties who might go on to be involved in crime.

Saleyha Ahsan (Lib Dem) and Ben Everitt (Cons)

Saleyha Ahsan (Lib Dem) and Ben Everitt (Cons)

The first question of the afternoon was posed by Simon Farrow, on the subject of tuition fees.

The Lib Dem candidate in MK South, Saleyha Ahsan, revealed that she was an opponent of tuition fees, and was against her own party’s policy on the issue.

The Lib Dems have taken a lot of flak over tuition fees for university studies after the party backtracked on the issue in 2010 to agree to increasing them.

But she said: “I wasn’t a member of the Liberal Democrats in 2010 and I didn’t agree with the coalition, and I don’t agree with it now.” If she was elected she said she “might be able to influence change”.

Alan Francis, the Green party’s candidate in MK South, took the opportunity to skewer three opponents at once by saying he disagreed with Labour’s decision to introduce tuition fees in the first place, and with the Conservatives and Lib Dems for increasing them. He would raise taxes to pay to scrap tuition fees.

Independent Stephen Fulton agreed that tuition fees were a limiting factor but said he disagreed with “pushing people to get degrees.” He supports apprenticeships and added: “Education without opportunity is a bit of a waste.”

The candidates standing in MK South are: Saleyha Ahsan (Lib Dem); Alan Francis (Green); Stephen Fulton (Ind); Hannah O’Neill (Lab), Amarachi Marilyn Ogba (Christian Peoples Alliance) and Iain Stewart (Cons).

The candidates standing in MK North are: Ben Everitt (Cons); Aisha Mir (Lib Dem); Charlynne Pullen (Lab); and Catherine Rose (Green).