By Douglas Stephenson
Following my participation in the Huish Sixth debate in the Summer of 2015 I was approached by Lord Tyler about the opportunity to undertake work experience in the House of Lords.
Once my immediate excitement had subsided I was then faced with the task of fundraising to help support me during my stay and I am grateful to friends, family and Mr Wright, Chair of the Board of Directors at Huish Episcopi Academy and her associates who enabled this once in a lifetime trip to happen.
Throughout my stay in the House of Lords with Lord Paul Tyler I found myself in fast moving highly organised system which was initially quite a shock. On the first day of the placement I was delegated the task of combing through Hansard transcripts of House of Commons and Lords debates, with a view of gaining quotes from rival parties on controversial issues. I can most definitely say that it was thrilling to gain an insight into the world of political intrigue and the more subversive side of politics.
Furthermore, I was able to a gain an understanding of the level of specialism required of a Lord from having been invited to observe a meeting between a PhD student and Lord Tyler on the realignment of British politics, particularly focussing on the 1980's and the events of this year. To be able to see first-hand the knowledge held by Lord Tyler on the subject was astounding as Lord Tyler began by saying that the situations are not so comparable since we live in an era of social media where social change doesn't have to start in parliament, but on the internet.
The idea of the importance of social media in politics was really driven home when I was tasked with the management of Lord Tyler's twitter account during the session of questions in the Lord's Chambers. I can now see that politics really is striving to modernise and become more accessible to the masses as well as the fact that I need a lot more practice before I tweet for a Lord again!
Apart from this, I was able to experience first-hand a Lords debate in the chambers, sit in on a Brexit specialist panel and observe a closed Liberal Democrat Lords meeting. After all of these experiences I feel far more attuned to the world of politics and governance having formed many new views and strengthening others through the vast number of experiences which I had over the course of my stay.
It is this kind of opportunity that comes once in a lifetime and I am so grateful that you Huish Episcopi Academy chose to support me in achieving this experience. I would be more than happy to share further stories or answer any question in person about my stay in the House of Lords. Furthermore, with an open invite to come back from Lord Tyler I certainly hope that this will not have been my only stay up in the House of Lords.
Footnote: Following his time in Huish Sixth, Douglas will be going on to study at Edinburgh University in October 2016