Written by Y Mechti - Headboy
Since 1066, government in the United Kingdom has become more democratic and inclusive, slowly including a wider range of genders, ages and cultures in society. Now, students in Fulham College Boys’ School have been getting involved.
William the Conqueror set up the first council of advisers for the king in 1066. However, the vast majority of the population did not have a say into how the country was run.
Although the first meeting of parliament happened in 1295, it was not until 1928 that all men and women over 21 were given the right to vote in a secret ballot.
Today, 18 year olds across the UK - and 16 year olds in Scotland - can vote in elections. The endless campaigning of groups, such as the Suffragettes, throughout History enabled more people than ever before to have their say in how the country is run.
This November, students from across the school embraced the opportunity to visit the House of Commons. They experienced how it has strengthened democracy, righteousness and liberty.
Participating in a discussion with a panel of decision makers, the boys got an insight into the life of MPs and gave their view on
Crucial issues affecting this country.
The speakers included: Ms. Bethany Ward (Chair of the UN Association of Young Professionals), Mr. Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Labour MP of Brighton Kemptown), and Councillor Frances Stainton (Conservative Lady Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham from 2011-2014).
The aim of the event was to initiate a debate on the opportunities that young people have to engage in politics. The boys accepted the challenge.
Mr. Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP spoke about the challenges that prospective MPs face to get elected. In 2015, the MP came fourth, achieving only 10% of the vote in Lewes. This was double what Labour achieved in 2010. In 2017, he was moved to Brighton Kemptown and won the seat with 58% of the vote - 20% more than in 2015.
Becoming an MP is an uphill struggle. This does not end once you are elected. Close votes in Parliament; constant knocking on doors; calls from constituents and collecting support from other MPs are all parts of the job. There is always a fear that you will lose your seat.
The message was clear.
Politics is a passion: a channel for change; politics is not a stable career without eagerness.
This was clearly demonstrated by the boys at FCBS. Their questions on Brexit and the House of Lords triggered a debate between the party lines.
Labour MP Mr. Russell-Moyle criticised hereditary peers. They inherit the title of Lord. Whilst Conservative Councillor Frances Stainton defended the work that some members do, and their place in History.
The exchange continued over Britain’s status after leaving the EU. Mr. Russell-Moyle MP expressed concern over the removal of judicial oversight which he believed would lead to a relaxation of rights and liberties. Whilst Councillor Frances Stainton was hopeful of the trade that Britain could do outside of the EU.
Parliament has always been described as a 'broad church’ of political allegiances. This is something that the students got to see first-hand.
By the end of the day, under the portrait of the Lady Speaker Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the spark in the young adults’ eyes was clear to see. Events, like this, in the Houses of Parliament help to inspire engagement in politics. They provide a pathway for students to get involved.