On 27th January, members of the Hull University Labour Club travelled to Westminster to visit Parliament.
We started the day by having a tour of the Palace, seeing the House of Lords and House of Commons chambers, Central Lobby, Portcullis House and historic Westminster Hall. We witnessed the Speaker’s procession before watching the weekly session of Yvette Cooper vs. Theresa May, aka Home Office questions, from the Commons public gallery.
Afterwards, we headed up to Committee Room 20 which had great views overlooking the Thames where we were fortunate enough to be visited by several prominent Westminster figures for an informal chat.
First off we met David Hanson MP, former HULC member and HUU VP, now Shadow Immigration Minister. We’d seen him in the Commons for Home Office Questions just half an hour earlier. He told us about his time at the University of Hull and what it was like to be, in those days, the sole Vice President of HUU. He noted the great number of alumni who now work in Parliament, known as the ‘Hull Mafia’.
Then, we were visited by our own MP for Hull North, Diana Johnson. We had a nice catch up, and Diana told us stories about her time as a junior Government Whip. Special thanks goes to Diana and her office for helping us to arrange the day.
Following Diana, we were given time with Jess Asato. Jess is Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich North in the upcoming 2015 general election, as well as being political advisor to Tessa Jowell MP and Chair of the Fabian Society. Jess spoke to us about her experiences in politics as a woman and her role as Vice Chair of the Electoral Reform Society.
Then, we were treated to a talk with Lord McAvoy. Lord McAvoy is Labour’s longest-serving whip, serving in the governments of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He told us about the unique role a government whip plays and reminisced about both difficult and funny situations that he had to deal with during his time in the Commons. Afterwards we were treated to a drink in Strangers’ Bar.
I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who played a part in bringing the day together, be it by giving us a tour of Parliament or securing our fantastic speakers. It was a fantastic day, and I’d recommend it to future HULC members.