Birmingham sixth formers bombard Ed Miliband over war and expenses
Cabinet minister Ed Miliband faced a fiery crowd of Birmingham sixth formers and was told “you’ve got blood on your hands” over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Teenage students from Birmingham Metropolitan College, formerly Matthew Boulton College, put paid to the claim that young people are not interested in politics as, in a packed lecture hall, they bombarded the Climate Change Secretary with a string a passionate and often challenging questions.
It showed a change in tactic from the Labour Party following accusations that too many high profile politicians are simply meeting hand-picked audiences and party faithful.
One student, Imran, twice put the minister on the spot, over the issue of trust in light of the MPs expenses scandal and again over the war on terror.
He said: “Innocent civilians have lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and British soldiers have died. You must take responsibility for that, you have their blood on your hands.”
Mr Miliband replied: “9/11 happened first, 3,000 people lost their lives that day in an attack we know was launched from training camps in Afghanistan. We had to ensure the safety of people in this country.
“There are many in Afghanistan who are appreciative, girls who can go to school, and people who have had the chance to vote.”
He defended Labour’s record over the last 13 years when told by one student ‘they had got everything wrong’ while in power.
“I am proud of our children’s centres, peace in Northern Ireland, tax credits to help the poorest families, the fact no one has to wait 18 months for NHS operations any more and our investment in public services and buildings. So I would would not say we got everything wrong at all,” he said.
He was also quizzed over Israel and Gaza, the electoral system, reform of the House of Lords, the economy, jobs, the environment and public transport in an open session.
Leanne asked why the Government, which wanted to improve our trade deficit, had allowed the sale of Cadbury’s to an American company.
The MP for Doncaster North answered: “We have a system which allows companies to take over other companies and could do little about it. But now we want to make it harder for them to do so. We want to raise the bar.”