May 12, 2011

It's like the Hollywood of British Politics


I’ve just started a new internship at the House of Commons, working for Jack Lopresti, Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke. So far this requires researching info for his speeches and debates, working side by side with another one of his assistants and sitting in on parliamentary debates. Though this isn’t very exciting and probably not suited for a travel blog, it’s still giving insight to being here in England.
You know that feeling you get when you see someone and you recognise them, but you know know where from? That’s what it’s like here; except you know every other face. That’s because the House of Commons is like the “Hollywood of Politics”- you know everyone’s face because you’ve seen it on TV, in a newspaper or on a poster somewhere.
Today I told I was allowed to attend the PMQ- ‘the PMwho?’ Should probably have kept my mouth shut as this was quite obviously the Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament,which is when he has to answer questions submitted by other members of parliament. This is apparently forms an important part of British political culture and due to the natural drama and theater performance of the sessions, it’s highly entertaining and makes for great evening news. 
More often than not, the session is spent insulting the other party and trying to out wit your counterpart. Today’s proceedings went something like this: 
Edward Milliband (Labour Leader) to David Cameron (PM) : “…It is becoming a pattern with this Prime Ministers. This morning, in the papers, we saw the Universities Minister being dumped on for his tuition fees policy; we see the Schools Secretary being dumped on for his free schools policy; and the poor Deputy Prime Minister just gets dumped on every day of the week.” (Followed by rapturous laughter)
Edward Milliband to David Cameron (After Cameron got a bit flustered and started raising his voice) : “ In a phrase that the Prime Minister is familiar with, “Calm down, dear.” Calm down.” 
Mr.Speaker to the crowd: “Order. There is far too much shouting in the Chamber and the Secretary of State for Education should not be shouting his head off—it is a very bad example to set to the nation’s schoolchildren!”
This was again, followed by ‘canned’ laughter and a rustling of feathers.  It was all very entertaining, like sitting in the audience of a daytime talk show! Though nothing was really resolved and I came away feeling that very little was accomplished, I can’t wait to go and see the show again.
I guess perhaps, you just had to be there
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