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The student view of Parliament Week

Reflections from a first year Politics and International Relations Student on #UKPW18 at Nottingham Trent University

As I had never taken part in a Parliament Week before I was unsure what to expect so I was keen to experience as much of it as possible by attending as many of the events as I could. The highlight of the week was the visit and Tour of the Houses of Parliament.

I attended four of the five sessions the university hosted. The event titled ‘Misogyny: A Nottingham Perspective’ which explored the impact of treating misogyny as a hate crime was the first event I attended. This event was a panel discussion on the treatment of misogyny as a hate crime, a concept that was pioneered by Nottinghamshire Police when Sue Fish, one of the panellists, served as Chief Constable. The important takeaway for me was that the legislation already exists for misogynistic behaviour to be the treated as a hate crime although this is not always used and may not always be strong enough. This was an informative event that increased my knowledge of the impact of Misogyny and other hate crimes and what methods can be used to tackle it. The Head of the Metropolitan Police recently stated that misogyny shouldn’t be policed by the Police, on this Sue Fish made the point that if the Police doesn’t do it who will. I believe that it would be more beneficial if the police didn’t act because it is clear to everyone that misogyny is unacceptable. Individuals should police their own behaviour so that the Officers don’t have to act on these reports.

Tweet showing lego models of democracy

The next event that I attended was the ‘Life after Brexit’ event, which explored how young people can increase their participation in democracy and therefore increase attention to the issues that face us. I was very interested in the task to model how we perceived our access to democracy and decision making. One of the most common themes in the models we created was a barrier which held us away decisionmakers. I took away from this event that young people need to draw attention to the issues we believe are important if we are to be taken seriously by the people who make the policies and decisions that affect us. I really enjoyed this event and I hope there are further events to build on what was explored in this event. It is needed to help to increase the profile of our issues and ensure we are taken seriously.

On Thursday I attended a talk by Gerry Sutcliffe.  It was a very interesting and informative event about his life as an MP and as a Government Minister. Gerry Sutcliffe described why be become an MP after spending several years as a councillor. He also outlined how important sport is to health and national pride and argued that this justified high levels of government investment in sport at all levels. Gerry Sutcliffe also commented on Brexit and the future of the UK in a post-Brexit world. I really enjoyed this event as it gave insight into a career that I am interested in pursuing in the future.

My highlight of Parliament Week was the trip to the Houses of Parliament at the end of the week. I was keen to go on this trip as I had been outside the Palace of Westminster many times but had never been inside. We started the tour in the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Hall which was built in 1097, we then moved to the central lobby and then onto the Chambers of both Houses. We also visited the voting lobbies and the Prince’s Chamber behind the House of Lords.

What was most striking in the House of Commons chamber was how small it was, designed to fit only 400 MP’s on the famous green benches.  There are currently 650 Members of Parliament to accommodate with plans to scale this back to 600 being reviewed by Government at the moment. The House of Lords is the most awe-inspiring part of the building with the red benches and the vast throne at the end of the Chamber.

For me, being able to visit the political centre of the country, where decisions that affect us all are made on an almost daily basis was the highlight of the week. Overall I really enjoyed all the activities available Parliament Week, I believe that they have helped complement my studies as they showed what can be achieved through the political process even at a local level.

Thomas Dray

1st Year Politics and International Relations Student and Nottingham Civic Exchange Student Associate

Nottingham Civic Exchange

Nottingham Civic Exchange has been established by Nottingham Trent University to maximise research, policy and practical impact by bringing together university expertise with partners seeking to address the needs of local communities. Nottingham Civic Exchange acts as a resource to look at social and economic issues in new ways. This means facilitating debate, acting as a bridge between research and policy debates, and developing practical projects at a local, city and regional level.

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Published on 27 November 2018
  • Category: Current students; Nottingham Civic Exchange; School of Social Sciences