19 October 2018
DPE students studying British politics visit the House of Commons
On 17th October, our second and third-year DPE students visited the House of Commons to pose questions to a panel of MPs and a Lord. The visit was organised by Peter John and Mitya Pearson who both teach on the module British Politics. Students had the opportunity to ask the politicians about topics from their reading. They were joined by students taking a similar module in European and International Studies taught by Isabelle Hertner and Stuart Smedley.
After the lecture a group of forty students walked from King’s to Parliament stopping off to look at the main government buildings, such as No 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, on the way. Keeping out of the rain, they took in a short tour of The Supreme Court and heard an impromptu talk from one of court’s staff about the cases that are decided there.
Once in the House of Commons, students gathered in one of the committee rooms to pose their questions to the MPs. On the panel were Anneliese Dodds (formerly an academic at King’s and who kindly hosted the event), Ben Bradley, Alistair Carmichael and Neil Coyle, and Alan Whitehead, a good balance across the political parties. In addition, Lord Philip Norton joined the panel as both a member of the House of Lords and as one of the foremost academics working on British politics and author of some forty-five books on the subject. Students then asked questions about the reform of the House of Lords, the power of parliament, the system of whipping votes, the expectations of constituents, how to become a MP, and what are the worst and best things about the job. As well as answering the questions, the MPs talked about how they got into politics and showed that there are many routes in.
Students got to understand much more about the people involved in politics and what is it like to be a MP. And during the discussion, Neil Coyle took the opportunity to thank his former tutor at Hull University, Lord Norton, for teaching him politics as an undergraduate.