Following the recent visits of four prospective MP candidates to Portsmouth High School, here are some notes based on which tactics worked for them (and some that didn’t). Refer back to these when planning your takeover of a currently unspecified small European nation (maybe America?)
- Do your research – know what sort of topics school students care about. And when you mention climate change and mental health multiple times, they’ll be impressed at your targeted research, if nothing else.
- Leave plenty of time for questions. Once you’ve had the chance to talk about all the things that make you look good, your audience will want to grill you on the topics you were desperately trying to avoid.
- Don’t spend too long answering each question. If you’ve forgotten what the question was by the time you’ve finished answering it, something went wrong. At the same time, one-word answers are rarely sufficiently detailed, and hard to take seriously.
- Answer the question you were asked, even if it was the one you really didn’t want to answer. Don’t think you’ll be able to get away with dancing around the general topic for a few sentences – people will notice
- Be ready to talk about Brexit, or whichever other hugely polarising issue that has already been dragged out for far too long. Everyone’s bored of talking about it, and everyone will ask about it anyway. On the bright side, it’s safe to give your honest opinion, because no one will agree with you anyway.
- Everyone already knows that politicians can’t be trusted. Explaining this again isn’t original or tactically advantageous – no one will trust you more because of it.
- You will be questioned on your policies that will negatively affect the group you are talking to. But it’s no reason to worry – you can say what you like, because no one will believe you anyway (see previous bullet point).
- You’re here to talk about politics. Don’t go off topic with random details about your family or daily life, because no one needs to know. Most importantly, do not reveal your planet of origin, or where you parked your spaceship.
- You don’t need to explain how much you’re in love with Portsmouth. When someone was talking to a school in Portsmouth, about everything they’d done to help Portsmouth, in a bid to become MP for Portsmouth, people were be able to work it out on their own.
- Don’t be afraid. People will criticise you, and gently (or not so gently) poke fun at you, but they’re usually quite nice deep down and probably don’t hate you (much).
Finally, thank you to candidates Donna Jones (Conservative, Portsmouth South), Stephen Morgan (Labour, Portsmouth South), Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Liberal Democrats, Portsmouth South) and Vix Lowthion (Green, Isle of Wight) for coming in to talk to our school, we really appreciated it.