Long Road students visit Westminster ahead of General Election

On Monday, a group of Long Road students were lucky enough to visit Westminster Hall in attendance of the Citizens UK General Election Assembly. It was an insightful day for all and added to all the election excitement! Year 2 student Lorenzo Reserva reports...

After Prime-Minister Rishi Sunak called the General Election, a non-partisan grassroots pressure group known as Citizens UK coordinated a gathering of 18 of its chapters across England and Wales at the Methodist Centre in Westminster- it aims to promote uniting issues that concern British Civic society from educational institutions to religious organisations. The meeting was an opportunity to hear how delegates from the three main political parties projected to hold large shares of seats in Parliament would resonate with the manifesto of Citizens UK which included local devolution and the living wage. In attendance was Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner MP, Conservative candidate for Richmond Park Sara Gezdari, and Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Newby.  

As part of the Cambridge Chapter delegation, nine of us Long Road politics students,  both first and second year, were in attendance along with students from other colleges such as Hills Roads and other individuals like Tim Hall. The event consisted of several performances from Latin American Dancers to a choir from a Catholic School singing about importance of the Living Wage; there were also testimonies from individuals such as people who have resided in the UK for several years without citizenship to students struggling with a lack of mental health counselling in their schools.

The involvement of Party delegates barred all audience members from bringing any political messaging, banners and from heckling any politician- instead they were encouraged to clap for any reference and endorsement of Citizens UK agenda pledges throughout their 8- minute oral memorandum. The aim of this was to build accountability and a relationship with not only the future government but with backbenchers who could influence policy. Aside from this, they also reminded all eligible voters to bring ID and turn out to polling stations across the UK.

Overall, it was a very insightful experience and shows a more appropriate and constructive side of politics: one abstract from sleaze, drama or dogmatic partisanship and the organisation as a whole embodies core democracy when different aspects of a disagreeing and diverse society can come together to solve issues instead of resorting to conflict.