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Politics Conference

On Monday 4th December, Year 12 and 13 politics students went up to the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster.  Speakers included former government ministers and members of the House of Lords - and represented many parties. It was a very exciting event, with hundreds of other politics students in attendance from all around the country.

On Monday 4th December, Year 12 and 13 politics students went up to the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster.  Speakers included former government ministers and members of the House of Lords - and represented many parties. It was a very exciting event, with hundreds of other politics students in attendance from all around the country.

The Speakers

There were a total of eleven speakers throughout the day, and with the audience offering applause to those they agreed with, it was pretty obvious who had the most support (as well as who most certainly didn’t!).  Interestingly, it was clear that the speakers all had great respect for each other - even though they clashed on policy and ideological matters.

First up was Chris Bryant MP, a Welsh Labour member and Shadow Minister for Science and Innovation. He spoke of the three core aspects of politics, as he sees it: what you believe in, how you put that into place, and the alliances you make along the way. He also mentioned what would become the running theme of the day, the respect for human rights in our country and the negative impact that pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights would have, especially from his point of view as a gay man. 

After this we had the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey. He talked of the Lib Dems position in the upcoming general election as they aim to take back the ‘blue wall’ seats in the South East and West that they had once held - in the hope that they will cause significant damage to the Conservative’s seat numbers. With this, came the topic of electoral reform, which he, and the Lib Dems as a whole, have long been in favour of. Finally, he faced questions from the audience over his time as a minister during David Cameron’s first term as Prime Minister.

The next speaker, former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, came on to a huge applause from the audience. He focused on the inequalities in our society and how he believes that they can be reduced. On top of this, he talked about his 40 years as an MP for Islington North and the many duties that MPs have to their constituents. As his time on stage came to an end, he was asked several interesting questions on how the media has portrayed him - and how this has influenced public perceptions of him.

Emily Thornbury MP, the Shadow Attorney General was up next. She started by speaking about her experience as a lawyer and how this relates the role of shadow attorney general as their job is to make sure the government follows the law at all times. This then led on to a deeper, and very engaging, discussion as she spoke about the place of human rights and how we should never lose sight of them, especially with regards to the government’s Rwanda policy.

Next up was Lord Alf Dubs, a Labour peer and holocaust survivor, who also spoke of the necessity that human rights are upheld in all circumstances, lest we see the mistakes of the past repeated. He also covered the need for reform in the House of Lords, saying that it does really need to be elected, however, there are benefits to the current system. With very few members serving ministerial positions, there is much more time for deeper scrutiny and debate in the Lords, which will be of great use in questioning the new Foreign Secretary (Lord Cameron).

Then, Siân Berry, a member of the Greater London General Assembly for the Green Party, came to talk about what it means to be a member of the Greens. She also talked of their chances in the upcoming election, as she will be standing in Caroline Lucas’ (the current sole Green Party MP) Brighton Pavilion seat after she stands down when the election is called.

Jess Philips MP spoke next, talking passionately about the negative impacts that Conservative austerity policies have had on her constituency in Birmingham Yardley, and around the country, particularly in the services for women and asylum seekers. She also argued that voter apathy has to be avoided, because everyone can really make a difference, and that Labour will have to bring significant changes, as they have in the past, to restore the electorate’s faith in the government. 

After lunch, David Davis MP - the former Brexit Secretary - argued that Brexit is not an important contributor to our current economic problems, and that the five years worth of political chaos, compounded by Boris Johnson’s unconstitutional actions, and the financial crisis that started in 2008, were mostly to blame. He also followed several of his predecessors in talking about how we shouldn’t leave the ECHR.

The leader of the SNP in Westminster, and the youngest speaker of the day, Stephen Flynn MP was next. He started by talking about the chance of an independent Scotland (which he believes is still a possibility), and how it would take shape compared to what we see today. Along with this, he argued that equality of opportunity is necessary in all parts of the UK, and that a better standard of living is deserved by all.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg came onto the stage next, with the distinct sounds of boos and cheers coming from various members of the audience. After addressing these people, and talking of the primacy of freedom of speech in such situations, he spoke about the benefits of Brexit. These include the greater control over trade deals and laws that we now have, for example, with the fast distribution of the covid vaccine compared to the rest of europe. He then added that we must judge all immigrants and asylum seekers by where they have come from, in determining their right to asylum. Finally, it is his belief that the Conservative Party must unite again behind Boris Johnson to win the next election, as he has already won the support of the electorate once, and will put them in a much better position to do the same again.

Finally, we had the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajiv Javid, talk about the idea of improving the economy to bring about growth; this involves the improvement of job opportunities to help uplift those at the bottom of society, rather than the redistribution of wealth. He also said that we do need immigration, since our health service would collapse without it, but maintained that limits do need to be placed on the system to stop people from abusing it. He finished off by commenting on the lack of the promised ban on conversion therapy in the King’s Speech, saying that it is a law that should definitely be implemented in the future.

After a long and exciting day, we took the words of the speakers home with us… so that we could carry on the debate!


Politics prefect

Year 13