Shadow Climate Change and Net Zero Secretary Ed Miliband MP (left), and Mansfield Mayor Andy Abrahams pictured with A-Level students from the college.

A-Level students enjoyed the opportunity to quiz the Shadow Secretary of State for Climate Change and Net Zero, Ed Miliband MP, when he visited West Nottinghamshire College’s sixth-form campus on Thursday 2 February 2023 to engage with the next generation of voters.

The former Labour leader, joined by Mansfield Mayor Andy Abrahams, took part in a question-and-answer session with more than 50 students, who quizzed them on issues ranging from education, the environment, energy and transport.

Politics and environmental science students quizzed both the Shadow Climate Change Secretary and Mansfield Mayor.

The teenagers asked Mr Miliband a series of questions during the 45-minute session at the Chesterfield Road campus in Mansfield, including how would a Labour government tackle rising inequality and ensure every young person had access to a good standard of education, whether the party would ban wet wipes and provide better drainage on new housing developments, and how would it ensure energy companies paid more tax in the UK.

He was also asked if he believed re-nationalising bus and rail companies would reduce their environmental impacts, whether Labour would lift the ban on off-shore wind farms, and what its proposed windfall tax on oil and gas companies would look like.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Miliband said: “The voice of young people is so important in our politics and in climate change, and it was so refreshing to hear the students. They were a credit to themselves, to the college, to the staff, and to Mansfield.

“I thought they were brilliant and they asked tough questions, as they should, and they gave me their opinions, which were really interesting. They’d obviously thought a lot about what they wanted to ask and what they were interested in. The students are clearly learning a lot in their politics and environmental science courses.

“There’s a real passion for environmental issues and a real sense that if we tackle the environmental crisis we face, we can make life better for people – tacking air pollution, cutting energy bills and creating jobs. That was what really came through for me.

“I loved it so much I am very keen to come back.”

Jordyn Newton, 17, who studies politics, sociology and law, said: “Events like this are really beneficial. Talking to senior politicians helps us to understand their vision for the nation and for us, as young people, because the climate crisis is something that affects us the most.

“It has also given me a better look into what they think, which could possibly benefit my work in college and hopefully my world-view.

“If Labour do get into power, I think there will be mainly positive things that come out of it, such as its plans for GB Energy, which he said would be better for the consumer because it would provide cheaper bills.

“It’s been eye-opening. If I’d taken another course or gone to another college, I don’t think I would have had these opportunities.”

Environmental science, biology and chemistry student Lucia Lewis, 16, said: “It was cool seeing how politicians talk to people and hearing what their views are. It’s a good experience because it gives you an insight into things you wouldn’t have really thought about before.

“Ed Miliband has a lot of knowledge about environmental problems, so it was interesting to hear his opinion on everything and how he would help solve climate change problems.

“The knowledge and information we get from things such as this will really help in the exams we’ll do because it’s like a real-life case study.”

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Revill, 17, who studies politics, law and English literature, said: “I was amazed he came and I was really satisfied with his answers.

“When you’re writing about party political policies and ideas for constitutional change, it’s nice to actually hear about it from the politicians themselves. I believe the ‘Westminter bubble’ does exist and that people barely see anything from senior politicians, so having one actually come and discuss a subject with us and get questioned on it was just amazing.

“I liked what he said about GB Energy and the nationalisation of energy companies, and aiming for more green-produced energy.”

Jane Fishwick, assistant principal for academic, creative, community, digital and professional studies, said: “This was an absolutely fantastic experience for our students, who had the chance to put across their points of view and challenge decision-makers on issues that they care about so deeply.

“The students did themselves proud and it’s great that Mr Miliband wants to return and give them another opportunity to do this.”

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