By Edward Lawrence


Visiting fellow and Labour MP for Coventry North East, Bob Ainsworth visited Bournemouth University where he was interviewed by Media School students, currently studying the forthcoming May 2014 European Union parliamentary elections and voter disengagement.

Ainsworth, the former Secretary of State for Defence under the former Labour government, recently set an online challenge for five groups of first year Politics and Media students aimed at mobilising young voters in the South West England constituency and challenging the perception of a young voter disengagement.

The Labour party currently have no MEPs representing the South West England constituency within the European Parliament - having lost their position in the 2009 election. Seats for the region are currently held by the Conservative party, UKIP, and the Liberal Democrats, but Ainsworth believes that the Labour party can successfully challenge this by engaging young voters.

The students discussed with Ainsworth both national and EU related political issues including the EU and young voters, the recent rise and influence of UKIP, and the single market. When asked about his views on a potential referendum on the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union, the MP said: “I’m really frighted of the potential consequences of coming out of the European Union. I don’t think that’s ever talked about at all”.

The interview and prior discussion allowed students to engage in mature political debate and discuss serious political issues.

BA Scriptwriting student Joanna Poulton who also took part in the interview. She said: “I found Bob Ainsworth really open and balanced to talk to. He had some truly profound things to say about climate change, for which I have a natural passion, and also had some great thoughts on Putin and the situation in Russia.

I asked him specifically about what he thought of the EU environmental policy and emissions target but was thoroughly enthralled by the responses to the other questions posed. The experience was thoroughly enjoyable.”

BA Television Production student Joshua Bosley, who briefly fronted the interview, added: “Politics and students has always been closely linked but not always in the best of ways so its encouraging to see other students engage with current debates and voice the views of others that might not be so politically motivated.”

David McQueen, Programme Leader for the BA Politics and Media course said: “It was great to see our Politics and Media students offering insights into the shortcomings of the 'main political parties' online communications in the run up to this crucial election. It's clear that too often these parties are targeting the older, loyal voters and ignoring young people's needs, hopes and fears.

If they want to exclude students and other young people from this elections they are going the right way about it. Bob Ainsworth enjoyed the session and is looking forward to seeing how the Politics students can offer positive campaign ideas for reaching disengaged young voters - not an easy task.”

David Mcqueen also said he was impressed by his students: “Seeing the crew editing the interview live in the studio made me realise how many skills they have developed in the Media School. This was a totally student-led production and I can see now why the television industry wants to snap up our students. They are totally professional.”

The interview was produced and filmed in collaboration with BA Television Production students who are currently working with students from a range of Bournemouth University courses to produce live coverage on the night of the European Elections on the 22nd May from 10pm.

As part of a social experiment to engage young voters and local residents, they will also be hosting a filmed debate on the 15th May with MEP candidates from each of the main political parties.

In the meantime, MP Bob Ainsworth will be returning to Bournemouth University on the 8th May to partake in a discussion with academics, students, and special guests surrounding Belarus.

For more updates on both the coverage and debate like the Facebook page or follow the hashtag #BUEU2014 on twitter. More information and registration for the filmed debate on the 15th May will be opening to students and local residents in the coming weeks.