Pupils Enjoy a Taste of Political Life

On Monday 4 December,  LVI Politics pupils went on a trip to the Student Conference at Westminster Central Hall in London. It was a fantastic day filled with lectures and Q&As from Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs. The hall was filled with around 1000 Politics students from across the country, which allowed for some interesting debate with the speakers, but the enthusiasm of the audience was key to the success and excitement of the day.

John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, was the first lecturer and set the day off by primarily opening discussion on the roles of the Speaker and of debate within the House of Commons. He was followed by Sir Keir Starmer MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, with Brexit of course being an important reoccurring theme throughout the day – (a show of hands quickly established that the room was heavily Remain, as may or may not be expected).

After a short break was the excellently spoken Clive Lewis MP, who showed great skill in answering questions, followed by the veteran Kenneth Clarke MP, and the rising feminist star Jess Phillips MP. The room then warmly received the eloquent and engaging Chuka Umunna MP who showed great support and encouragement for young people delving into politics. Later in the day was Anna Soubry MP followed by Sir Alan Duncan MP, Foreign Office Minister, who also elaborated on Brexit and the improvement of the acceptance of minorities in UK politics over the past 40 years, but expressed that there is still a long way to go internationally.

The next session was by the controversial Jacob Rees-Mogg MP – the only pro-Brexit speaker of the day – yet despite tough questioning he upheld his reputation as a good speaker and was able to play around both the ‘boos’ and the cheers. The last talk of the day was the Ex-Liberal Democrat Leader, and Ex-Deputy PM, Nick Clegg. He dealt very well with rather harsh questioning on his responsibility for the ‘downfall’ of the Lib Dems and offered his, now outsider, opinion on the future of UK politics. The day was exceptionally interesting and was great fun with many thanks to Dr Lorimer for all the arrangements.

Clare (LVI)