“Oh, it must be a really interesting time to be working in Westminster at the moment…”
Third-year students reading Politics at Queen Mary are given the opportunity in their final semester to partake in a two-day a week Parliamentary placement working for an MP.
In this unabashed, no holds barred, tea-spilling Print exclusive (in partnership with The Simple Press), we reveal what it is truly like working in the iconic Palace of Westminster – or, more likely, Portcullis House – during one of the most turbulent times in modern British political history…
Names have been changed for dramatic effect.
What was the most intern-y task you were asked to do?
Malcolm: Sort every single photo of my MP from the last ten years by the year it was taken.
Glenn: Look after the MP’s dog for a day.
Peter: Be Chief Kettle Filler-Upperer.
Oliver: Walk from one side of their constituency to the other to scout a place for a potential fundraiser.
What was the best part?
Glenn: Going to fancy events with free alcohol.
Malcolm: Touring people around.
Peter: Cheap food and drink. Plus, the variety of tasks.
Nicola: Getting offered an actual paying job at the end of it. Kinda takes the dissertation pressure off a little bit.
What was the worst part?
Glenn: Replying to all of the Brexit correspondence.
Oliver: Stamping envelopes on a daily basis.
Malcolm: Attending entire day courses on topics like anti-social behaviour.
Peter: Hearing seemingly endless stories about harassment and abuse on the estate and people not wanting to report anything because they can see no upside of doing so.
Any interesting stories?
Nicola: I saw Jeremy Corbyn getting coffee while I was in Portcullis Cafe one lunch time. He was buying about 6-7 cups. My colleague goes to me, “why’s he buying so many?”. I thought it was obvious: he’s buying for the many, not the few.
Terri: I was watching the Brexit protesters from a window and one of them was wearing a onesie. I blurted out he looked cute (meaning in a kiddish, silly way), and another researcher walking past asked if that is what I was in to…
Peter: At the height of Labour MP walkouts, accusations of anti-Semitism and the Brexit crisis, I was queueing for coffee in Portcullis House and Jeremy Corbyn was in the queue behind me… like it was just a normal day. I think he still thinks he’s a backbencher.
Any embarrassing moments?
Malcolm: I went to a drop-in with my MP. She’d brought someone along who I didn’t know and I thought they were just an admin person or something, so I didn’t really engage much with them. Turns out it was an important government whip. Thought I recognised him from somewhere…
Peter: I met an MP who had heard of me because I’d sent a Freedom of Information request to the House of Commons a few months prior to find out his age (as it wasn’t available online).
Would you say your MP was out of touch?
Terri: No definitely not! She’s one of the good-uns!
Are you more or less optimistic about the current state of politics after being at the heart of it for three months?
Nicola: After being introduced to Jacob Rees-Mogg, less.
Terri: No more optimistic but no less hopeful. It’s everything I expected it to be and Brexit just makes everything 10x more exciting and dramatic.
Would you want to work in Westminster in the future?
Nicola: Definitely – and I am!
Peter: Pay me enough money, and then yes.
Image – Pixabay