Last week I had the amazing opportunity of having a week of group work experience in the office of Rt Hon Dame Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire. Just a few of her many previous positions include Leader of the House of Commons and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
One of the first main tasks I participated in was campaigning to constituents in West Hunsbury. Rather than being stuck in an office all day, this was refreshing and allowed me to get involved with observing how an MP maintains their connection with their constituents whilst multitasking a parliamentary focus down in London. Later, at the end of the week, I accompanied Andrea back to West Hunsbury to allow those living there to voice their concerns, bring them to the attention of their MP, and ultimately help with proposing potential solutions.
Through drafting responses to constituent emails in the Policy Research Unit, I noticed the broad variety of issues of the locals and how an MP’s office efficiently communicates. I also gained the new skill of parliamentary research and knowing how the vast system of complex casework is managed. Also, I was able to appreciate the challenging collaboration between the regional office with the House of Commons by joining in on the online weekly office update meeting.
There was also the chance to ask about the everyday operations of the Chief of Staff, Senior Parliamentary Assistant and Andrea’s current apprentice and previous Northampton High student, Olivia Brittain. The role of Senior Parliamentary Assistant was particularly interesting considering the importance that social media plays in creating the public image of an MP and their campaign appeal to voters.
My favorite part of this insight into an MP’s life was being able to look at current campaigns, especially the Early Years project report review. This was an engaging perspective into what the government’s aims are in relation to the care of infants throughout the duration of the ‘1001 critical days’ from conception. It was really intriguing to see how the government currently supports infants, what issues they aim to address, and ultimately how they wish to improve the support for parents and carers of infants in the future. Another highlight of the week was the one to one Q&A session with Andrea. Being able to discuss local and international politics was fascinating given her first hand experience. I was particularly interested in how the government manages spending cuts whilst safeguarding foreign aid, as well as other topics such as, abortion law in Ireland, and the misconceptions and effects of Brexit.
I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and I am very grateful to have been introduced to this opportunity by Mr Donaldson, the teacher of the Sixth Form Politics & International Relations Elective. I have gained skills that will undoubtedly be beneficial in my future university endeavours studying law. I would highly recommend this experience, to anyone interested in the tasks of an MP, but especially to those who are interested in politics, international relations, or law.