Exploring the core of democracy: A visit to Parliament

First year Politics and International Relations student, Jennifer Ayodele, reports on our recent trip to the Houses of Parliament and UnHerd HQ.

We’re continuously deepening our knowledge as Politics students at the University of Kent. Our recent visit to Parliament and the UnHerd news platform brought clarity to the principles that underpin British democracy and was the most rewarding of experiences.

We received a tour guide who was incredibly knowledgeable; loaded with facts on the operations of parliament and the functions of the House of Commons and House of Lords, as well as the various levels of discussion and scrutiny that go into passing legislation. This guided tour allowed us to truly appreciate the historic parliament buildings, where every intricate design provides a visual representation of democracy.

Afterwards, we were fortunate enough to witness the daily Speaker’s Procession. This experience was nothing short of profound!

‘The visual guidance of the inner workings of parliament whilst studying and engaging with British politics as a module was unique and insightful!’, says Danielle, a fellow student.

After the tour, we paid a visit to UnHerd, a British news and opinion website, where we were welcomed by Freddie Sayers, UnHerd Editor-in-Chief, and also received a talk from Miriam Cates MP. According to Cates, the life of an MP will be ‘what you make of it’. This discussion also included an in-depth insight into the process of passing legislation, and the multitude of ways in which an MP can become involved with this process. We learned that many MPs have a hand in creating legislation, including backbenchers.

‘This made me realise that finding common ground is achievable.’

Our Professor, Matthew Goodwin, also joined in on the conversation about scrutiny of MPs. He referred to the public personas of MPs as ‘not accounting for who they are.’ Summaya, a fellow politics student adds, ‘this discussion removed a bias against people with opposing views and made me realise that finding a common ground is achievable.’

Freddie Sayers provided us with insight on what UnHerd stands for and what it means to be ‘unheard’ today. He explained that UnHerd provides a platform for larger ideas that question conventional wisdom. He asserts that the issue is more complex than simply rejecting the left, and accepting the right, and that impartial institutions should be established, that are not dependent on maintaining the status quo. Overall, Sayers’ differentiation between the unofficial media and the official media made the shift in attitudes and methods of thinking apparent to us as emerging political thinkers.

All in all, our visit to Parliament was a memorable one. We would advise all students at the university to take advantage of opportunities like this, to learn more about the world around us. It served as a reminder of the value of pursuing novel concepts and broadening our knowledge.

Many thanks to Dr Ben Turner, Dr Raluca Popp, and Professor Matthew Goodwin for making this trip possible.

Jennifer is studying BA (Hons) Politics and International Relations.

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