Politics & History students visit Parliament!

Politics Course Team Leader, Gavin, tells us all about the fantastic experience our students had last week when they visited the UK Parliament at Wesminister! 

On Wednesday 10th January I had the pleasure of travelling to London with 58 Long Road Politics and History students in order to visit the UK Parliament at Westminster and the UK Supreme Court.

After a fairly lengthy journey, we arrived at the Parliamentary Education Unit to be taken on a tour of the Palace of Westminster. Although the Commons had closed by the time of our arrival, we were guided through the Sovereign's entrance and followed the path taken by the Monarch when conducting the state opening of Parliament. This involved a visit to the Robing Room where King Charles III prepared for the most recent state opening ceremony back in November 2023. As we proceeded on our tour it was hard not to be overwhelmed by the appearance of the Palace and this impression continued upon our visit to the House of Lords, where students were shown the Woolsack, the seat of the Lord Speaker of the House.

After passing through the central lobby, we were taken to Westminster Hall and shown the ‘New Dawn’ art installation by Mary Branson, a work unveiled in 2016 to commemorate 150 years of the struggle for female suffrage. In the hall we were met by Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, who met with the group and answered questions on sustainability, his role as a shadow minister, the cost of university, and, perhaps, most important - why the students should consider voting Labour in the next election.

Whilst one student was able to witness Rishi Sunak taking part in Prime Minister’s Questions, others were able to explore the medieval splendour of Westminster Hall. At the conclusion of PMQs the students were then taken in small groups to view the debate in the Commons concerning the ongoing scandal relating to the Post Office, with many regretting that they were only able to spend a short time in the public gallery.  During this point of the visit, the students were also met by Rt (Hon) Matt Hancock, the Independent MP for West Suffolk, who came to meet the students and answered questions on his own parliamentary career, what he plans to do after leaving the Commons, and his views on ‘Partygate’.

After leaving Parliament, we proceeded across the road to visit the UK Supreme Court. As there were no cases taking place that day, the group were permitted to visit Courtrooms 1 and 3, the latter being home to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the senior body that deals with cases from UK Overseas territories as well as some Commonwealth nations. The court is an impressive sight and the students were able to take advantage of the empty rooms and sit in the chairs occupied by the most senior judges in the UK.

Despite another lengthy journey back from London and a long day overall, the students were engaged throughout and took an active part in making the visit to both Parliament and the Supreme Court worthwhile. They were a credit both to the staff that accompanied them and to the college itself.