TWO hundred sixth formers in Pickering caught election fever during a visit by Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Howard Keal.

He talked to Lady Lumley’s School students about the importance of everyone exercising their right to decide who runs the country.

Mr Keal said: “We looked at the crisis in democracy. Even at the 2005 election, about 40 per cent of people did not bother to vote.

“A lot of the students have the chance to have their say at the ballot box at a General Election for the first time this year.

“Others will wait longer, although Lib Dems support lowering the voting age to 16, in which case all the students I met would have their say.”

The key message from Mr Keal was that if apathy wins at the ballot box – everyone loses.

He said: “We looked at what other options are out there if democracy is allowed to wither – dictatorship, fascism, communism – none are at all pretty.

“The importance of voting was underlined by the way Iraqi people hours before risked the bomb and the bullet to have a say in their election.

“I also wanted to show the differences between the parties here and that what you decide does make a difference.”

Questions raised by the students covered a wide range of issues, including tuition fees, pensions, tax and farming.

Mr Keal said: “The questions were lively and intelligent. On farming, I explained we want producers to be guaranteed a fair price at the farm gate.”

He also took along slips which students were able to fill in for them to check they are on the electoral roll and ask for a form to join it if not.

He said: “No one should miss out on the opportunity to have their say. That’s what this is all about.”