Though we are surrounded by it, the political realm can sometimes feel distant. The trip to parliament helps to close this gap between us and those that represent our views before the government. On the 21st November 2016 a group of students interested in politics went to London to visit the Houses of Parliament and learn of its history and function.
Whilst we were there we met with MP Kate Green of Stretford and we were able to ask her some pressing questions about labour party policy and unity along with her personal views on controversial issues. We asked about attitudes towards grammar schools, something we could all relate to, and discussed whether or not the grammar school system is inclusive and fair. As well as hearing her views which were largely against the creation of any more grammar schools, we also were able to share our opinions on the matters of grammar schools specifically and attitudes to education in general. Many of us thought that grammar schools are a great learning environment for those that want to be increasingly challenged but we did feel that exams are not always a true reflection of ability.
We were able to watch debates in both the House of Commons and House of Lords on the issue of work pensions, which gave us great insight into the inner workings of parliament. We were able to analyse the temperament of the MPs, including Kate Green and the required patience of the backbenchers to try and get the attention of the speaker. We saw how tight the timings are in the commons as was highlighted by the speaker John Bercow in his statement that although it had run over they would ‘make time’ to finish the debate.
We were also able to visit Westminster Abbey where we stood in awe at the architectural glory of a building stooped in religious and political history. On our self-guided tour of the abbey we were able to hone in some of its most interesting features such as the poets corner where we were able to view commemorations to our favourite literary authors and scientific geniuses.
To mark the end of our trip we went to Covent Garden where we could get some food and reflect on the day before exploring the luxury items for sale in some of the biggest chains on the high street.
We all left with a deeper insight into the British political system and even more questions that we hope to ask Kate Green when we invite her to our debate club.