UKYP: must it be ‘adversarial’?

I’m loving Twitter at the moment. I got an @wilsondan from the great Sir Stephen Fry over the weekend and today, the Member for Twitter, responded too. Huzzah.

Tom Harris is the Labour MP for Glasgow South and he was responding to my tweet re the UK Youth Parliament‘s (UKYP) hopes to hold their session in the very House of Commons itself. He believes (quite rightly) that they should able to use the ‘cockpit of the nation’ for meetings later in the year. Some really tedious folk (read: Conservatives) think that this would somehow demean the sanctity of the House of Commons.

I don’t think that’s a risk. I wholeheartedly think the UKYP should be able to use the HoC if they wish. But there must be a better place for a meeting of Britain’s youthful great and good. I enjoy the adversarial nature of the Commons in some senses but I hate the ‘Punch and Judy’ politics that having two sides sat literally facing each other at a few swords’ length engenders. I can see that sitting in the Commons chamber will be fun, serious and sobering. But really, if we want to see a future, improved politics, wouldn’t a space that fosters consensual, clever, collaborative politics be preferable?

And that’s where I disagree with Tom Harris. ‘Proper politics’ isn’t just about having a bloody great ding-dong, braying, making didactic speeches and waving order papers. And I would like to think we could learn from our young people. Desiring them to emulate our current adversarial, unsatisfactory processes and calling that ‘proper’ rather depresses me.

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