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Denyer vs Debbonaire: Who has your vote?

We spoke to Carla Denyer and Thangam Debbonaire to find out exactly what they offer to students as the July 4 General Election looms ever closer.

By Annie McNamee and Amaan AliCo-Editors-in-Chief

Five days.

That’s the number of days in a working week, and the longest length of time you can survive without water. It’s also the number of days you have left to decide who will get your vote in the 2024 General Election.

The last one, in December of 2019, took place in a very different world to the one we currently live in. They had no idea that we’d be thrust into a global pandemic that would shut down the world for a year, or that one of the three Prime Ministers the country would cycle through would be outlasted by a head of lettuce. The country is different now, and as such it’s important you vote for the right people to be in charge of it.

If you’re a current student at Bristol you were probably not yet 18 last time, so this is all new to you. You might’ve watched a debate or two and wondered what exactly Keir Starmer’s toolmaker father has to do with his education policy, or grown tired of hearing Rishi Sunak lament about his lack of Sky TV as a child.

That’s where we come in. We’ve interviewed Bristol Central’s prospective MPs from the Labour and Green parties, one of whom will almost certainly win in this constituency,  so that you can hear, from them, exactly what each party offers for students. 

'We're not afraid to say that that we need substantial investment in services like the NHS, social care, schools, and that we would make our tax system fairer to pay for it.' - Carla Denyer, Green candidate for Bristol Central

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green party and candidate for Bristol Central, was out door knocking when we caught up with her. Across the space of about an hour, our Co-Editor Amaan was able to chat with her about the environment, the housing crisis in Bristol, and how her party would scrap tuition fees.

‘There is an entire generation, and to be honest at this rate we are heading for two generations, of people that have no prospect of being able to buy a house because they will never be able to save for a deposit.’ Denyer explained, in between houses. 

‘I would increase minimum wage to 15 an hour and that includes removing the ageist cap on younger adults’ 

The full interview with Carla Denyer will be available from Monday July 1.

On Labour's recent insistence that a wealth tax is unfeasible, Denyer explained that she didn’t understand ‘what [the party] mean’ when they say we ‘can’t afford’ a wealth tax, saying ‘what do you mean you can't afford to introduce taxes on the wealthy? It's not you that's paying for them.’

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s candidate and the area’s current MP, disagreed with this policy when we asked her about it.

'I was stopped in the street just the other day by two students who said they were voting Labour' - Thangam Debbonaire, Labour candidate for Bristol Central

‘The Green Party are saying they're going to put up all sorts of taxes. That's fine for them to say, because they're never going to have to do it.’

She emphasised how her party’s commitment to strengthening the country’s economy would benefit everyone.

‘Fiscal responsibility and economic stability are crucially important.’ She began. ‘The [current] economic chaos, the most recent cause of which was the Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng budget two years ago, is ​​a really good example of what happens when a government fails to take responsibility by making sure that every spending commitment they make, and in their case, it was tax cuts, particularly for the super wealthy, is paid for and accounted for.’

‘They didn't do that. Everybody suffers because of that.’

Debbonaire also believes that Labour offers a more immediate solution to the current housing crisis: ‘I was stopped in the street just the other day by two students who said they were voting Labour because they want to be able to own a home of their own one day,’ she recalled. 

‘We are offering that possibility with our great offer for young home buyers, so that they don't have to wait for decades, or perhaps never, to be able to have a home of their own.’

‘We will also scrap the unfair section 21 evictions, which are so called No Fault evictions, where a tenant, and often it will be a young person who's trying to complain about poor quality or has just been there a while, and the landlord suddenly decides they want to get rid and put the prices up.’

She spoke at length about GB Energy, Labour’s proposal for a ‘new, publicly owned renewable energy purchasing company, which will enable us to leverage private finance… By doing that, that means we will be bringing people's bills down.’

Thangam, who has been the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport since last year, also spoke passionately about the arts. 'Young people, who want a future in those jobs, deserve to be treated better than being told that their degrees are 'Mickey Mouse'. It's outrageous!'

The full interview with Thangam Debbonaire here will be available from Monday July 1.

Although Debbonaire insists that her party will return Britain's public services to good working order, Denyer believes that 'the Green Party is the only party being honest about the level of investment that is needed by our public services.'

'We're not afraid to say that that we need substantial investment in services like the NHS, social care, schools, and that we would make our tax system fairer to pay for it.'

Overall, it became clear that Carla Denyer and the Green Party want significant changes made to the country and how it's run, with higher taxes on the wealthy and more spending in the public sector. Thangam Debbonaire and Labour also pledge to differ in their leadership from the current Tory government, but believe we need to be slow and steady in our approach to restoring public services.

As it stands, if the polls are correct, one of these women will be the next MP for Bristol Central.

If you're still undecided who you like best we will be releasing our full interviews with both Carla and Thangam on Monday July 1 where they discuss everything from tuition fees to Palestinian activism– keep an eye on our socials to be the first to read.

So who will get your vote come Thursday? Will it be the Greens or Labour or someone else entirely? Let us know at to have your view anonymously represented in Epigram this week.

What do you want to be Bristol Central's next MP?