Priory 6 Spot Hancock and Interview Huq in Parliament 

By Gina Virdee

On the 17th January 2024, A-Level Politics, History and Sociology students, Miss Balani and Mr Murphy visited Parliament for a tour and a workshop, to witness the everyday procedures that take place at the centre of British democracy and politics.

We first visited Westminster Hall, where former monarchs, such as Queen Elizabeth II, as well as former Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and William Gladstone, have had their lying-in-states. It is also where foreign leaders have addressed both Houses of Parliament including: Nelson Mandela (1996), Barack Obama (2011) and Volodymyr Zelenskyy (2023).

As we were leaving the Hall, we recognised Jamie Laing, co-founder of Candy Kittens, from Made in Chelsea. Next on the tour was Central Lobby, a meeting location for Members of both Houses, where MPs can meet with their constituents and activists to be lobbied.

Here, we also spotted Matt Hancock, former Health Secretary, in the flesh, which was a notable moment of our trip!

Coming to the end of our tour, we sat in the Public Gallery of the House of Commons, where the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill Committee was in session, and parted ways with our guide at St Stevens Hall. On the same day, in the evening, the Bill passed its third reading, with a majority of 44 votes. 

In due course, we had a workshop on the legislative process of Parliament, and had narrowly missed Suella Braverman speaking in the Committee. Soon after, we greeted Dr Rupa Huq, who kindly answered our questions for around 35 minutes. 

Dr Huq is an alumni of Notting Hill and Ealing School and Newnham College, Cambridge, having graduated in Political and Social Sciences and Law, and completed her PhD at the University of East London. 

The interview:

Q: “How did your education at Notting Hill and Newnham College influence your decision to go into politics?”

A: Huq studied A-Level English Literature, History and Politics and was influenced by strong women and female figures in school, such as her female headteacher at Notting Hill, as well as Diane Abbott, the first black woman elected to Parliament, in the 1987 election and by Neil Kinnock’s speeches. 

Q: “Can you share your perspective on the challenges faced by individuals of colour in politics?”

A:  She said that “Parliament is not that representative” and that more people of colour need to be elected to “normalise” it. “If you’re a pioneer in any field, it will take more time to be accepted: change can be slow, but you have to be part of it to make that change.”

Q: “Are you left-wing or right-wing of the Party?”

A: She branded herself as a “pragmatic centrist” who cannot be “some crazy extremist”, as she has to be “quite centralised” to appeal to her voters. 

Q: “What are your thoughts on politicians going on reality TV, such as ‘I’m a Celebrity’?

A: She found it “ridiculous”, “disrespectful” and said “What are you doing prancing around in a jungle?” Huq revealed that she received offers from ITV for ‘I’m a Celebrity’.

Q: “What can we do to create more optimism around politicians, especially towards young people?”

A: Huq suggested that we should “[get] more people involved”. She is in favour of the voting age to be lowered to 16 in order to “treat young people like adults” and emphasised the importance of youth-orientated politics. 

Overall, our trip to Parliament was eye-opening, surreal and highly successful!

Posted in News, Politics.