East Ham MP Stephen Timms says young people care about politcal issues


- Credit: Archant

Have you seen the BBC documentary, Inside the Commons?

In an unprecedented move, cameras were invited, by the Speaker, into the Houses of Parliament. The programme has attracted interesting reactions. It has shone a light on some of the more traditional – perhaps outdated – aspects of Parliament’s work.

Two weeks ago, I hosted 10 local students, aged between 16 and 18, in parliament for my “Politics School”. The week-long programme aimed to dispel the myth that politics is a hidden pursuit confined to the corridors of Westminster – and irrelevant elsewhere.

Students had an enjoyable week. On the Monday they learnt about Parliament and the work of an MP. They also visited the Treasury, where, after a talk about the civil service, they met the Financial Secretary, David Gauke MP. He has the office and responsibilities I had when I was a minister under Gordon Brown, just before the 2010 election. During the week, they received introductory training in public speaking, speech writing, advocacy, media relations and campaigning. They also visited Europe House to learn about the work of the European Parliament.

We finished the week with a trip around Newham. We visited Westfield, Crossrail’s Tunnelling Academy in Manor Park, West Ham Football Club, London City Airport (which sponsored the week), the Asian Business Port, Tate and Lyle Sugar refinery and Canary Wharf.

Young people care deeply about political issues, but are put off by party politics.

I wanted these keen students to understand politics is all around us, and not the preserve of MPs.

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It shapes everything we care about. I’m looking forward to hosting many more.