Takeover Day challenge: the work of our MPs

We’ve recently featured a blog from Parklands Primary School on their experience of National Takeover Day. Today we publish two further blogs by Minhaz Abedin and Shamim Miah on their experience of shadowing two MPs as part of this nationwide campaign.

Shadowing Matt Hancock MP
Written by Shamim Miah, MYP

“Traveling to Westminster the Cabinet offices, the heart of the political system is always an exciting journey. Today I will be shadowing one of the most extensive members of the conservative party, Matt Hancock MP, who is the Minister of the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General. At the start of the day I got to know the office members who accommodate Mr Hancock on a day to day basis.

From his special advisors to the members who set out his dairy for the following meetings, it all was one big group of family who worked together to make sure Mr Hancock’s day was efficient and he upheld all responsibilities he committed to.

In the early hours of the day I was able to meet the team who work for Matt Hancock and was able to get a further insight into the daily routine by speaking closely and assessing Sindhi, Sarah’s and Lottie Dexters (Special advisor) work. This was a brilliant way to find out the ‘behind the scenes’ work of Mr Hancock’s department, and demonstrate the different workings of the department which enables efficiency in the department. Speaking with Sarah, one of MR Hancock’s special advisors, stated what it entailed for her to get to the position of working as a civil servant in Whitehall. This furthered my ambitions of wanting to be a part of the government.

The most exciting part of the day, came when preparing at the pre-meeting for the Select Committee in the afternoon. This was especially exciting as I was also able to meet John Manzoni, permanent secretary for the cabinet office who was going to be assisting Mr Hackcock at the Select Committee meeting. The pre meeting was important as it allowed both parties to prepare themselves for the scrutiny and questions which may occur by the panel on the select committee.

We then made our way over to the House of Commons which was as always magnificent. Watching the Select Committee in action was great. The Select Committee was on behalf of PACAC, Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee, the panel consisted of judges and MPs who scrutinised and questioned the working of the department. In all this experience was brilliant, as it showed the democratic nature of our political system, as the decision makers where being questioned about their actions and it showed how our decisions made in parliament are kept in check.”

Shadowing Rob Wilson MP
Written by Minhaz Abedin, MYP

2015 was a year of success and Make Your Mark was the epitome of the heights reached. A record 969,992 young people voted in the ballot, allowing for the UK Youth Parliament to once again debate in the House of Commons. From the outset, being a Media Spokesperson meant I got the full extent of the buzz that came with such an event. Never would I have thought that representing Make Your Mark in the media would turn into leading Make Your Mark in October.

With 8,732 individual ballots, I was proud to have represented Leeds to my fullest ability. However, coming top in the entire of Make Your Mark in the UK was a shock that soon turned into a nonstop journey of breath-taking experiences. It began with another visit to the Dispatch Box of the House of Commons where I delivered the Closing Speech at the UK Youth Parliament’s annual sitting which was not only a humbling experience but a moment that I will forever hold with pride. However, it was my second visit to London in December that truly left a lasting spark that will be a driving force in my future endeavours.

After sitting opposite the Minister for Civil Society (MCS), Mr Rob Wilson MP, in the House of Commons, I was honoured to have been invited to shadow him as part of Whitehall Takeover day. Travelling down to London on the morning of my shadowing, I remember having vivid thoughts of spending a day in a boring office but on arrival to the Cabinet Office, I could have not been more wrong. Walking into a building which neighboured Downing Street was exciting enough but it was the crowd of press outside the building – due to the floods – that truly instilled a sense of where I actually was; at the heart of our Government.

Immediately after gaining clearance through security, I was bombarded with constant movement and introductions for the next hour – from the MCS’ personal civil servants to his SPAD (Special Political Advisor) to Lord Falk QC – finally ending with the Minister’s arrival for his fortnightly schedule run through, giving me a direct insight into the everyday workings of the Cabinet and just how busy the Ministers are. Once this was over, I was taken on the most diverse tour of the different components that make up the MCS’ office. Beginning with a personal conversation with his SPAD, I then moved to the communications department within the Cabinet Office, and then ended the short tour in Downing Street itself; taking the obligatory picture outside the infamous door of No10.

Once returning to the MCS’s quarters, I was taken to the Youth Division of the Cabinet Office where I spoke to teams dedicated to running and operating charities and organisations such as the BYC; ensuring funding is not only meeting the right parts of the UK, but efficiently as well. Covertly though, I was trying to make sure that I sold UKYP is the highest light – everyone needs funding – as I truly believe the organisations changes and empowers every young person in the UK. Due to the confidential aspects of some of the meetings I sat on in with the MCS, I cannot really disclose the contents of the meetings but what I can say is the incredible lengths the MCS goes to ensuring a fair deal is served for young people.

However, I have saved the best till last. After visiting Downing Street, through casually walking out a back door of the Cabinet Office, I thought I’d reached the peak of my day. Never did I expect to be told that the PMQ Advisor to the Prime Minister had invited me inside No10 for a tour and an insight into the most precious yet hidden part of Government. Going with one of the MCS’ team, we even managed to visit No11 on our way into Downing Street – a little unofficial detour.

Speechless. That’s the only way I can describe the feeling of walking through the door of No10 Downing Street. It was truly spectacular and honestly makes me understand why I continue to strive to empower young people everyday – to one day do the same in a position where I can bring even more change.

On my way back to Leeds, after a short reception in the Houses of Parliament with the Minister and the British Youth Council, I decided to recount on the day I had just experienced, and to that I realised something essential. The UK Youth Parliament has truly changed my life and funnily enough I became a Member of Youth Parliament for that very reason; to change the lives of young people. Now I can do that with the assurance that my voice is being heard. Shamim

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