Tag Archives: parliament

Meeting Hackney’s Youth Parliament

5 Sep

Last week, I was invited to drop in on a session of Hackney’s Youth Parliament. It was very exciting to hear of all the amazing ideas and campaigns planned. I have been invited to observe a scrutiny meeting next week so you guys will be hearing about that! Make sure to keep checking in for updates on all things parliament!

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Politics made interesting (yes, really)

20 Nov

I’m not going to pretend I know a huge amount about politics.  However, I’m not one of those people who sits in a pub complaining about the price of a pint, the lack of jobs, unreliable trains, and then says ‘But I don’t do politics.’  I know it affects me, and I am aware of its importance in the functionality of this country.

I think most people know decisions made in parliament affect them, so in a way it’s strange that so few know exactly what goes on behind those parliamentary doors. Come to think of it, most people probably didn’t know you could take a free tour to find out, either…

Entering the area around the Palace of Westminster (also known as the Houses of Parliament) and its additional buildings (such as Westminster Hall) is like going through airport security.  When you do get in, you are given a photo ID to wear around your neck, and told you must be accompanied by a pass holder at all times. 

I was taken to Westminster Hall, and as I sat waiting for the tour to begin, I started thinking.  It’s funny how, despite the fact I’ve lived in the south-east of England my whole life, there are so many places like this in London I’ve never visited.  I guess when you live so close to something you don’t feel obligated to make the effort.  In the same way that most New Yorkers have never been up the Empire State Building.     

The tour itself was superb – educational, yes, but somehow still extremely interesting.  I was shown around the House of Commons, House of Lords, the Queen’s Robing Room, the Prince of Wales’ chamber, and got an up-close look at some significant things associated with parliament.  For instance, we saw the original copy of the Commons notes when Guy Fawkes was first found to be plotting to blow up parliament.  The Queen’s throne in the House of Lords was obviously very impressive, as was standing in the exact place Gordon Brown would when speaking in the House of Commons.     

Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, and apart from his phone ringing during a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day, was brilliant.  He explained the origins of parliamentary rituals that I’ve always known but never quite understood, like Black Rod banging on the door of the Commons.  He was happy to answer any bizarre, irrelevant questions from members of the tour group, and even did so with a straight face.    

After it finished, I felt really pleased that I’d done it.  It was enlightening, interesting, and wasn’t so long that it became boring in the least.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to find out a bit more about what goes on in those buildings we see on TV most days, and how the country is run.  After all, we do live here. 

More about this free tour – and the one including a tour of Big Ben – can be found here and on the UK Parliament site.

by Chris Warburton