State of the nation: an election special

State of the nation: an election special

Tuesday 14 April 2015, 6.00pm
The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London

Five representatives. Five different manifestos. One very experienced presenter. All keen to express their views on "The State of the Nation".

Our Sussex Conversation this year had a new, dynamic format designed to allow Sarah Montague and the audience to interrogate the panel and investigate their policies on the NHS, immigration, security and terrorism, foreign relations.


1. If your party had a majority in the next parliament what two things would you do first to improve equality of opportunity for all citizens of the UK? Cathy Pash (EURO 1978)

2. How much of the health service will still be free at the point of delivery under your watch by the end of the next term? Susan Secher (BIOLS 1977)

3. As a young professional living on the outskirts of London, the prospect of saving enough for a substantial deposit seems quite overwhelming – How does your party plan to help people get on the property ladder? Tabitha Pike (LAW 2006)

4. Quality of life begins with a comfortable home, but applying policies to make work pay without any exceptions for those too sick or disabled to work, has made housing suitable for complex needs unaffordable for the majority, who rent in the private sector to which the bedroom tax does not apply.
Will your party introduce protections for those unable to work to improve their circumstances, or does only work pay? Micha Ramsay

5. What do you see as the biggest security issues facing the UK, and how will your party address them? Anne Anthony (EDUC 1989)

6. What changes would your party make to University funding, why would you make them and how would you fund them? Peter Carpenter (MAPS 1966)


Sarah Montague is a British journalist whose 20 years’ experience includes presenting News 24, Newsnight, Breakfast with Frost and BBC World's Hardtalk. She is best known for her work as a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Sarah returned to chair the panel for the fourth time, after leading the Conversations Global Transformations (2012), Capitalism Is Dead, Long Live Capitalism? (2013) and Power Hungry: How Can We Sustain our Energy Needs? (2014). Sarah was awarded an honorary degree from the University in January 2013.


Kelly-Marie Blundell (Liberal Democrat)

Kelly-Marie is a Fundraising Manager for a national charity and a Union Official protecting the rights of employees in the charity sector. She read Law at the University of Kent and worked in Employment Law for several years. Kelly-Marie is keen to promote access to politics and works hard to ensure more women and people with disabilities are represented. She has strong press experience, writing for the Huffington Post, the Guardian’s Comment is Free, and Liberal Democrat websites. 

Chris Brown (UKIP)

Chris made a management career at British Telecom and became a consultant within BT Global Services’ outsourcing division. After seven years in America, he returned to the UK for affordable healthcare and education. On his return, he felt that the British way of life was under threat from increasing centralised European control and a legacy of financial mismanagement from the previous government. He felt that he had to join the fight to regain Britain’s sovereignty and protect its democracy.

Peter Kyle (Labour)

Peter works for an organisation which is embedded within the private sector to create new career opportunities for young people. He is also a PRA-regulated, Non-Executive Director of CAF Bank, which provides financial and banking services to charities and social enterprises. Peter moved to Brighton and Hove in 1996, completed a DPhil in community economic development at the University of Sussex, co-founded a film company, was Trustee of Pride and for six years was the Deputy Chief Executive of ACEVO, the third sector representative body.

Alexandra Paterson (Conservative)

Alexandra is the National Chairman of Conservative Future and an executive board member of the Conservative Women's Organisation. She is a qualified Solicitor Advocate and her practice was in criminal defence law in the North West. She now works in public affairs in London, as well as at Conservative Campaign Headquarters for the General Election short campaign.

Alexandra Phillips (Green Party)

Alex is Deputy Chair of Housing on Brighton and Hove City Council, as well as a secondary school modern foreign languages teacher. Alex was elected to the City Council in July 2009, winning the Green Party's first ever seat in Hove from the Conservatives, which stripped them of their majority. She was re-elected in 2011 and is currently the Green Party's second candidate in the South East region for the European Parliament.