Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson repeatedly confronted over coalition cuts during youth centre visit.

Jo Swinson was twice confronted over her role in the coalition government during an election campaign trip to a youth centre in south London.

The Liberal Democrat leader was accused of building her political career “on the backs of a lost generation of young people” as she visited Knights Youth Centre in Streatham on Wednesday.

The party’s campaign bus was also targeted by Extinction Rebellion protesters dressed as bees who glued themselves to the vehicle as activists waited for Ms Swinson’s arrival.

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Speaking later inside the centre, the Lib Dem leader outlined her party’s proposal to invest £500m on youth services.

She was challenged by youth worker Benny Hunter, 26, who runs a project for young asylum-seekers and refugees at the centre.

General election: Facts and figures

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Leaders' approval ratings, July-December
Seats to watch in Yorkshire
Labour top targets

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When parliamentary seats last changed hands

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General election 2019 opinion polls

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10/54 Seats to watch in south-west England

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Planned increase in day-to-day departmental spending

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Corporation tax rates

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Opinion polls (two weeks to go) v election result 2017

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Opinion polls (two weeks to go) v election result 2015

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Applications to register to vote

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How many women MPs could there be after the election?

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General election 2019 opinion polls in Wales

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A comparison of the length of the manifestos of the main parties

19/54 A comparison of the length of the manifestos of the main parties

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Mentions of key words in the main party manifestos

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Council houses built in the UK 1951-2018

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Lib Dem targets

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Major toll roads & bridges in Great Britain

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Police workforce in England and Wales

35/54 Police workforce in England and Wales

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Police officers in England and Wales

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Police-recorded homicides in England and Wales

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Knife crime offences recorded by police in England and Wales

38/54 Knife crime offences recorded by police in England and Wales

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Opinion polls in 2019

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Number of candidates per seat

40/54 Number of candidates per seat

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Candidates standing in the 2019 General Election

41/54 Candidates standing in the 2019 General Election

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Candidates at UK general elections since 1979

42/54 Candidates at UK general elections since 1979

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Women candidates at the 2019 General Election

43/54 Women candidates at the 2019 General Election

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Prime ministers with smallest constituency majorities to defend

44/54 Prime ministers with smallest constituency majorities to defend

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Cost of administering polls since 2010

45/54 Cost of administering polls since 2010

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People's Vote group priority list of recommended candidates in key target seats

46/54 People's Vote group priority list of recommended candidates in key target seats

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MPs retiring from the House of Commons at general elections

47/54 MPs retiring from the House of Commons at general elections

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Lib Dems/Plaid Cymru/Green pact in Wales

48/54 Lib Dems/Plaid Cymru/Green pact in Wales

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Lib Dems/Green pact in England, seats where Greens have stood down in favour of Lib Dems

49/54 Lib Dems/Green pact in England, seats where Greens have stood down in favour of Lib Dems

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“We have seen massive cuts to children’s services in the UK,” he said. “We’ve also had hundreds of youth centres close under the coalition government that you were a part of … What is it that you’ve got to say about that?”

In an exchange filmed and posted on Twitter, Ms Swinson replied: “I certainly didn’t go into politics to make cuts … but there was clearly a financial crisis that was very difficult to respond to.

“We didn’t get to do all the things we wanted to do because we were a coalition government. I think there’s absolutely a recognition from that experience and learning from that experience of the extra investment that needs to go in.”

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The Lib Dem leader was confronted by another man after leaving the centre. In footage recorded by an ITN film crew, he said: “There’s a whole generation that’s been lost because of your policies, and you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your role in that government.

“You built your career on the backs of a lost generation of young people who didn’t have places like this. So for you to have the temerity to come to a youth club and to pretend that you care about young people is frustrating, very frustrating indeed.”

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Spending on youth services in England has fallen by nearly 70 per cent since 2010, when the Lib Dems entered into a coalition government as junior partner with the Conservatives. Between 500 and 1,000 Sure Start children's centres have closed in the past decade.

Mr Hunter, who runs a weekly youth club for unaccompanied asylum-seeking childen from the Horn of Africa, told The Independent: "The reason I wanted to speak about was they've all been impacted by cuts to children's services.

"So many of the issues we see on a day-to-day basis are not being dealt with appropriately by social workers because social work is overburdened and underfunded, so I felt the need to talk about what was happening."

He added Ms Swinson's visit to the centre "was very stage-managed".

"None of the people who were there were people who attend the youth centre. They were all shipped in from school," Mr Hunter said.

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