Girl, 15, uses BBC’s Tory leadership debate as a platform to peddle climate change agenda as she warns of further mass walk-outs at schools unless Government takes urgent action
- Erin Curtis asked candidates if they would make tough carbon neutral pledges
- She probed candidates on whether or not the environment would be a priority
- Revealed she’s part of the Student Climate Network which organised protests
The Scottish ‘youth striker’ who asked Tory leadership hopefuls about climate change during last night’s BBC debate has said she was ‘not impressed’ with their answers in a column for The Guardian newspaper.
Today 15-year-old Erin Curtis, who asked the candidates if they would make tough carbon neutral pledges, has revealed that she is part of the Student Climate Network, which organised a mass walk-out of schools in February.
It comes after the BBC today became engulfed in controversy over its vetting, after it emerged it allowed an anti-Semitic Imam and a former Labour party worker to question Tory leadership hopefuls in last night’s TV debate.
Abdullah Patel, who probed the contenders on Islamophobia, has been suspended from his job as deputy head of a Muslim primary school over tweets he sent blaming women for rape, praising Jeremy Corbyn and attacking Jews.
Erin Curtis (pictured above) asked the candidates if they would make tough carbon neutral pledges
The panel of Tory hopefuls (pictured above) were grilled by panelists across the country during the show hosted by Emily Maitlis
Abdullah Patel (pictured above) has now been suspended from his job following the debate
This is while Aman Thakar, a Labour Party staffer, who questioned if the candidates had a democratic mandate, has also been suspended from his law firm Leigh Day after it emerged he said the most harmful part of Hitler’s legacy was his ‘abuse of nationalism’ in a tweet.
Miss Curtis has now warned that there would be further strikes unless the government agreed to measures including a Green Deal.
The appearance of Miss Curtis has also raised questions on whether or not the BBC had broken impartiality rules by having her as a guest, due to her affiliation with the YouthStrike4Climate movement.
The BBC’s official policy on impartiality states: ‘The Agreement accompanying the BBC Charter requires us to do all we can to ensure controversial subjects are treated with due impartiality in our news and other output dealing with matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy .
Aman Thakar (pictured) has now been suspended from his law firm Leigh Day after it emerged he said the most harmful part of Hitler’s legacy was his ‘abuse of nationalism’ in a tweet
‘But we go further than that, applying due impartiality to all subjects. However, its requirements will vary. The term ‘due’ means that the impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation.’
Five million people tune into BBC debate
The BBC’s Tory leadership debate was watched by more than five million viewers, it emerged today.
It drew an average of 5.3 million viewers and peaked at 5.7 million.
According to the corporation, the hour-long broadcast from 8pm was the ‘best performing programme of the night across all channels’.
Channel 4’s debate on Sunday averaged 1.3 million viewers and peaked at 1.5 million.
It included five of the Tory hopefuls, including Dominic Raab who failed to reach the next stage in the voting process yesterday, with an empty lectern left for Mr Johnson who did not participate.
It was hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy.
Sky News had previously announced plans to host a live head-to-head debate with the final two candidates. It will be hosted by Kay Burley, but the date has not yet been announced.
It has also been reported ITV News will host its own leadership debate, but details are not yet known.
It also added that they exercise editorial freedom to produce content about any subject, ‘at any point on the spectrum of debate, as long as there are good editorial reasons for doing so’.
In last night’s debate, ‘Erin in Glasgow’ asked the candidates: ‘On behalf of youth strikers all over the UK I’d like to ask can you promise that the environment will be your top priority if elected? Will you commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2025?’
Journalist Emily Maitlis, who chaired the debate, then asked for a show of hands as to which candidates would agree to the 2025 deadline, resulting in none of the hopefuls raising their hand.
Various candidates responded with what they deemed as a suitable answer to the question, with Rory Stewart saying that he was ‘deeply proud’ of the new 2050 target and that it was an ambitious target to have been set by an economy like the UK’s.
He then went on to say that he would double the amount spent on climate and the environment and highlighted that the UK also has ‘fantastic resources’ in the North Sea for things such as offshore wind.
This is while Michael Gove, who had previously met with activist Greta Thunberg, praised the work activists were doing but also highlighted that he doesn’t think children should be missing out on school and said ‘even though I think folk should be in school’.
He added: ‘As environment secretary, I have one of the best jobs in the world because I can do everything I can to make sure that your generation get a cleaner and greener planet.’
Favourite Boris Johnson added that he had been a vocal opponent of the expansion of Heathrow Airport and said he continues to have reservations about building a third runway.
Emily Maitlis asked the candidates to raise their hands as to which candidates would agree to the 2025 deadline, with non of them doing so
He also pointed to his record as London Mayor when it came to broader issues of the environment, stating that the city’s population increased by 200,000 over about eight years, but that CO2 emissions were cut thanks to the use of technology.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt seemed to welcome Erin’s challenge to be ambitious with the government’s environmental goals.
He said: ‘The question is not whether we’re doing something, it’s whether we’re doing enough.’ This is while Sajid Javid admitted he has also been probed on these issues by his 16-year-old daughter.
‘We have done quite a few things over the last few years… but nowhere near enough,’ he added.
In her Guardian column she said they had ‘failed to answer’ her questions and added that leaders are ‘meant to make decisions to protect the most vulnerable people’.
‘Aren’t real leaders supposed to be brave and courageous? Aren’t real leaders ultimately supposed tell us the truth?
‘But instead we hear them say time and time again that climate change is ‘important’ to them, that they will make it ‘central to their programme’ if they are in government.’
She also suggested that their plans won’t really make a real difference to the environment and said that climate change was not an issue for tomorrow, but an issue of today.
She penned: ‘Today, we’re seeing how countries are treating immigrants and those seeking asylum with intolerance and hatred. Today, we’re seeing the loss of thousands of species of plants and animals, yet those in positions of power continue to absolve their responsibilities.
Over the past few months, the YouthStrike4Climate movement has drastically shifted the narrative around the climate crisis, and we’re not going to stop striking until they all commit to taking the necessary action.’
Highlighted employment that new climate deals could create, she said the group wanted to see meaningful and secure jobs created across the UK – and added that her questions to the leaders would have been an opportunity for them to stand out as a climate leader.
She added: ‘I would suggest they listen to the youngest in our society who are not only leading the way but channelling the energy many have for climate action into something tangible. We have the technology and we have the resources, we now need the right leader and some political will.
‘With the UK looking likely to be the host of the next UN climate change conference (COP26) in 2020, it’s the perfect platform. Which of the five candidates to be our next prime minister will lead the UK into those climate negotiations?’
She asked who would have the courage to do the right things and said she wouldn’t be impressed with just words from politicians.
Who asked the questions in BBC Tory leader debate?
Imam Abdullah Patel in Bristol
Shortly after his question aired, it was revealed that the imam has been suspended from his job as deputy head of a Muslim primary school and the Masjid e Umar mosque over tweets he sent blaming women for rape and attacking Jews.
In another tweet he wrote: ‘Every political figure on Zionist’s payroll is scaring the world about Corbyn.’
Today Patel deleted his Twitter account after the controversial tweets were exposed.
The series of vile posts by Patel were exposed moments after the programme on BBC One, in which he asked the Tory MPs on their views on Islamophobia and whether they believed ‘words have consequences.’
Speaking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Patel refused to apologise, but insisted he had a very good relationship with the Jewish community.
He asked: ‘I am the imam of a mosque and I see first-hand the everyday impact of Islamophobic rhetoric on my community.
‘Do the candidates agree that words have consequences?’
Erin Curtis in Glasgow
She asked: ‘On behalf of youth strikers all over the UK I’d like to ask can you promise that the environment will be your top priority if elected? Will you commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2025?’
Erin Curtis, aged 15, later revealed that she is part of the Student Climate Network, which organised a mass walk-out of schools in February.
The schoolgirl has warned there would be further strikes unless the government agreed to measures including a Green Deal, in an article for the Guardian.
Lee from Norwich
He asked: ‘As a lifelong Conservative voter I voted for the Brexit party in the recent European elections.
‘My question to you all is can you guarantee that you will be able to get your Brexit plan through Parliament by the 31st of October.
Carmella from Southampton
She asked: ‘My question as a mother of three with a husband in the property industry is if we have a No Deal my husband could lose his job and my children face an uncertain future.
‘Why are you even contemplating a No Deal Brexit?’
Aman Thakar in London
After his question, it was revealed the former Labour worker had been suspended from his job at a law firm over a tweet about Adolf Hitler.
The tweet, posted in February, read: ‘Hitler’s abuse of the term nationalism is, to me, a nationalist, the most harmful part of his legacy.’
Critics quickly pointed out today that Hitler’s legacy included the killing of six million Jews and triggering the Second World War.
Solicitors Leigh Day said he had been suspended from his role in its employment department while it carried out an investigation.
The BBC said it knew that Thakar worked for Labour but failed to explain why they didn’t tell viewers.
He asked: ‘In the event that you become Prime Minister, you’re only going to be voted on by your parliamentary colleagues and 100,000 Conservative Party members.
‘And you have no mandate from the people. So, in the event that you become Prime Minister, when will you do the right thing and call a general election?’
Tina in Tunbridge Wells
She asked: ‘I have fostered more than 10 children over 27 years despite the support from my local authority I now struggle to get appropriate mental health services, special educational needs support and even doctors’ appointments. What are you going to do for vulnerable children.’
Mark in Belfast
He asked: ‘I grew up during the Troubles and I have seen how a free and open border to the Republic of Ireland has helped secure both piece but support trade and development.
‘Can the candidates explain how they will solve the issue of the Irish border, a subject many people here see as Theresa May’s downfall.’
James in Oxford
He asked: ‘I used to be a Conservative voter but now consider myself party-less. I have reluctantly voted for the Brexit Party.
‘My question to all of you is what is your plan to lift the tax burden on the working classes?’
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