When Constituency Campaigner Frances Howell went to lobby her MP Fiona Bruce about land grabs she got more than she bargained for – an invitation to the Palace of Westminster no less!  Read how she got on here:   

My day in Parliament started, and ended, with a biscuit.

As I sat on Parliament Green at 7:30am, with my non-tax-evading (!) shop-bought coffee and granola bar, all I could think was how terribly out of place I must have looked. Behind me was a building filled with some of the most influential people in UK politics and society already hard at work. And I was a bleary eyed, gap year student, feeling out of my depth and rather anxious for the day ahead.

My al fresco breakfast came about because of the kindness of my MP, a member of the Select Committee for International Development, Fiona Bruce (Congleton). After visiting her to discuss the issue of Land Grabs, on which she has been fantastically supportive, she invited me to spend a day with her and the Select Committee in Parliament, to see how it all worked.

First I met Fiona for the Select Committee’s meeting on ‘Violence against Women’, then to a discussion on ‘Engaging the public in International Development’, with the heads of BBC, ITV and Channel 4 News, where an explicit mention of Land Grabs made me applaud and cheer very loudly… in my head. For most of the day I was looked after by Fiona’s intern, Lucy, whose friend was interning for David Cameron. After lunch they took me
to see his office! I was also able to sit in on an evidence session on Equal Marriage, voting in the House of Lords, and Deputy Prime Minister’s Question Time. I was astounded by the amount of completely different events that I was able to experience in one day, each so interesting and thought-provoking.

Finally Fiona took me to a party of Scottish politicians – and no I don’t mean to a meeting of the SNP – literally, a party. Fiona was previously a member of the Select Committee of Scottish Affairs, and as the longest serving English Conservative politician on the Committee since 2010, they wanted to honour her commitment. The endless pieces of shortbread, coconut snowballs, and packets of haggis-flavoured crisps, showed me that actually, my cereal bar on a bench that morning hadn’t made me look so out of place after all. On this day I found out
that Parliament was much more accessible than it had seemed to me before – that much more than the Commons and Lords’ galleries are open to the public, and that politicians, behind the seemingly closed doors of Parliament, are just people, and they like biscuits too. I’m excited to make use of this discovery in future and extremely grateful for the incredible opportunity I had that day.

If like Frances you want to make a difference by lobbying your MP – why not apply for the Constituency Campaigner Programme?

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