The second we came out of Westminster station, we were absorbed by the intrigue of British democracy: anti-Brexit protestors; teacher strikes; special advisers with coffees in one hand and a phone by their ears. Spontaneously, we stumbled into the Supreme Court and watched a case attended by five of the SCOTUK justices regarding employments rights in Mauritius. Once we came out, we passed Westminster Abbey, with a large procession of politicians celebrating the NHS’ 75th Birthday, noticing various politicians who we have studied in class, such as Graham Brady and Chris Whitty. But this was merely the start of a fascinating trip.
Having met Mrs Jebreel, we found ourselves immersed into the NEU’s teacher strike, marching up Millbank. We chanted for pay increases, holding placards and learning more about the relationship between trade unions and the government. At 1:30 pm, we arrived inside parliament to meet the Baroness Anderson, who took us into an ostentatious suite and introduced us to the history, the controversies and the realities of parliamentary democracy. She toured us round the building and we learnt a plethora of historical nuances about the House of Commons and the House of Lords. From the secret anti-patriarchal resistance from the building’s architect amid the Suffragette movement’s rise, to the tennis balls found in the ceiling of Westminster Hall. Going into St. Mary’s Undercroft Church, an exclusive chapel for members, we encountered Jess Phillips and learnt about a broom cupboard in which a suffragette slept in to resist the parliamentary norms of 20th Century Britain.
After the tour, the Baroness Anderson got us tickets into the House of Commons press gallery. We watched two debates on energy security and teachers pay, noticing various politicians inside the House who we have used in our exam research, such as John Mcdonell, Andrea Leadsom, and Andrew Bridgen. Having left the press gallery, we walked to the spot of the centre of democracy, directly in between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, witnessing the traditional process of a speaker carrying a bill from the Lords back to the Commons. Throughout the year, we have been engrossed by studying Politics and Government; now, we were at the heart of our studies, engaged with the subject like never before.
By Charlie Rowan Y12