From Back of the Class to Front of the Bench
On Thursday the 5th of January, the Year 12 Politics and History Students attended a day-trip to the Houses of Parliament. As the British Parliament is among the most iconic buildings in the world, it added all-the-more reason and excitement to see (as young people) where decisions about our futures are made and more importantly who are making them.
Upon arrival, we saw that the trip certainly had an educational agenda as we were taken on a tour of both Houses of Parliament- the Commons and the Lords. Our expert tour guides did an excellent job of squeezing 500 years of parliamentary history into 30 short minutes. The sights within parliament were truly breath-taking and spurred the imagination of some of us as to what a career in politics may look like. Alongside our tour, we also received a workshop which focused on the history of women’s voting rights and the Suffragette movement. The workshop was not only informative but engaging by offering a range of interactive activities. These topics spurned conversations about Democracy and Rights which is very important as a politics student because these are we cover in the newly-introduced Government and Politics AS level. As a History student, the Suffragette movement and the area of women’s disenfranchisement is a topic we look at as a part of our British Political History course. Above all else it put into perspective how far we have come as a society – it is almost unimaginable that just over 100 years ago, women were not able to vote – and allows us to think about where we will be as a society in the next 50 or 100 years. This workshop could not have come at a more fitting time seeing as, for the first time, all of us will be able to vote at the next election and makes us, as citizens and human beings, appreciate the right to vote and those that have given their lives in the pursuit of suffrage: voting is important.
Leading on from the importance of voting in the last general election has shown our own borough of Bermondsey and Old Southwark how important the vote of each person is as the newly-elected Labour MP Neil Coyle won an upset victory against the former MP Simon Hughes. We were fortunate enough to have an audience with Neil Coyle in which we could raise our concerns and get his opinions of the views of young people. Neil Coyle received a plethora of questions especially regarding his relationship with Jeremy Corbyn – as Coyle was part of the rebellion against Corbyn and famously threatened to sue the labour leader. Coyle was open in answering this question stating Jeremy Corbyn is ‘a nice guy but not a good leader’. Other issues were raised such as Brexit in which Coyle stated he felt 16-year-olds deserved the right to vote in the recent referendum drawing on comparisons to the Scottish referendum in which 16-year-olds could vote. Coyle also stood by his decisions to vote for Syrian intervention as well as clarified his views for a more proportionally representative parliament (reforming the current voting system we have now) despite his voting records stating Neil Coyle ‘Has never voted on a more proportional system for electing MPs’. Finishing off, Coyle explained his passion to get more young people involved in politics and overall it was a nice experience to meet the person who represents us. In fact, it was such a success Neil Coyle has invited us back to watch parliament in action – we are all excited.
Derek Obaseki – Year 12