Samuel’s Stories: A Summer in the UK
Hello everyone! My name is Samuel Hanks, and I’m a political science student at Georgia State going into my senior year. I am spending the summer in London working in the British political system, during what is one of the most fascinating times in the entire nation’s history. I am here with the Hansard Scholars Programme, which places students in internships with Members of Parliament or Peers in the House of Lords, and I also take classes at the London School of Economics.
I work three days a week at the headquarters (hereafter HQ) of the Liberal Democrat party (hereafter LibDems), here in London. For anyone who has followed UK elections, they will know that the LibDems went from the third-largest party in the UK (partnered with the Conservative party in a coalition government) through a devastating election in 2015 that left them with only eight MP’s in the 650-person House of Commons. HQ is the national center of the entire party, with all departments organized here and a constant flurry of interactivity with the politicians in Parliament. It’s really quite neat to have the current leader of the LibDems popping in now and again, as well as various former politicians who are in town to help out.
I specifically requested that my internship be with or under someone who would be working closely with the EU referendum—the vote on June 23rd to stay in or leave the European Union. The LibDems are strongly pro-Europe, and so I was placed with the President of the party, Baroness Sal Brinton. (Note that President of the party is very different from Leader of the party. The Prime Minister is always the Leader of his or her party, while the position of President is slightly more internal and more similar to our party chairmen.) Therefore, my time is split between shadowing Sal as she performs her duties in the House of Lords and as party President, and working for the EU referendum campaign here at HQ. I’ve spent much of the last week getting briefed on the facts of the referendum before making calls all over the UK to local party chairmen, attempting to convince them to organize and hold events, etc. I really can’t imagine what these rural English, Scottish and Welsh folk think of an American calling them from London asking what they think of Europe, but so be it.
There are nine other students in the program with me, all from different parts of the US (plus Canada and Dubai) and all with completely different internships in all major parties, including the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties. It’s been quite fascinating to hear how various people are on opposing sides of the referendum issue, and what their MPs or Peers are doing to support or oppose. We all live together in the dorms of Regent’s University, right in the middle of Regent’s Park. It is one of the largest parks in London, which is quite an amazing experience on its own.
I’ll continue to update with how the referendum goes, as well as the fallout from that, and I’ll hopefully even get to talk a bit about living in London. Most importantly, I’ll do my best not to bore any readers, and I hope you find this interesting enough to come back! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you soon.Next Post