Franklin and Joe win Spalding Grammar School election in "spec-tacular" style
Two hugely popular policies and a pair of flashing, neon specs carried the day for the Progress party in a four-way election at Spalding Grammar School.
Progress leader Franklin Stokes and supporter Joe Gill literally had a spec-tacular win by taking 22 constituencies with 272 votes and a 34.7 per cent share of the vote.
It was Joe Gill who sported the colourful specs when party leaders and supporters first unveiled policies to a packed assembly.
The Year 13 politics students were trying to assess whether candidates are judged on their appearance and, after a week-long campaign, Joe believes his distinctive face furniture was a real vote catcher.
He said: “I think a lot of the younger students, if they weren’t interested in politics, have thought ‘I will vote for the one that stands out the most’.”
One of their headline policies - removing tuition fees for all university places - clearly fell on fertile ground in a grammar school where many students head off to study for degrees.
Franklin said: “It’s something that will affect almost everybody in the room.”
Joe said their second big policy that struck a chord with students was that of “ending violence against women and girls in the UK”.
While the grammar school is a mostly male environment, boys were quick to show their concern about attacks on females vastly outnumbering those on males.
Joe said: “I think they saw it was awful having this big disproportion between the two.”
Results of the Parliament Week election were announced by Spalding’s long-standing district and county councillor Angela Newton.
Turnout - the percentage of the electorate voting - was an astonishing 90 per cent.
Coun Newton told this week’s assembly: “I wish the percentage of the electorate who vote in council elections was equally as high as you have achieved.
“It usually only averages 30-40 per cent but maybe those of us who stand before the electorate for council elections are not radical enough?
“In South Holland the population is now around 88,000-89,000 within our 47 towns and villages. Ten thousand are aged between 10 and 19-years-old so at each four-yearly local council elections, or a parliamentary election, between 2,500-5,000 young people will have the opportunity to vote for the first time.”
Coun Newton hopes initiatives such as Parliament Week will enthuse young people to vote in the district council elections or even become candidates.
She told students: “I was particularly interested to see the outcome on whether candidates were judged on appearances, as well as the contents of their manifestos, so I can bear that in mind next May, and maybe approach Joe to see if I could borrow his glasses.”
Coun Newton congratulated all of the party leaders and supporters for setting out varied and sometimes controversial manifestos.
She said: “All of you have included something which most of us could support.”
The Tomorrow party’s Harry Padoan and Becca Long came second, taking nine constituencies with 229 votes (29.2 per cent).
Next it was Vision with William Hayes and Anete Murniece capturing six constituencies with 146 votes (18.6 per cent).
Transform’s Neave Shaw and Hannah Catterall took five constituencies with 112 votes (14.3 per cent).
Only 3.2 per cent of ballot papers were spoilt.
It was the first time that Spalding Grammar School had participated in Parliament Week and the amazing standard set by the Year 13 students will see the current Year 12 with some big shoes to fill next year.
Teacher Alexandra Dearing, the school’s head of law and politics, told the assembly: “There are a number of complicated issues happening at the moment with the UK set to leave the European Union, and we face very uncertain times.
“Some incredibly difficult decisions are being made that will impact the country in the following months and years, and ultimately you in the future.
“I hope from the activities you have been part of and the discussions you have had this week, you have a stronger understanding of the role you have to play in the political process.”