The student-led Downe House Politics Society had the privilege of hosting a talk at School this week with Wera Hobhouse, the Member of Parliament for Bath, as their guest speaker. We’re extremely pleased to share a review by Minty from the Upper Sixth (Year 13) who also helped organise the event.
On Thursday 30 November, I had the great pleasure of, alongside Emily (Upper Sixth), welcoming the Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse to the first event of the Politics Society.
Beforehand, members of the Upper Sixth and I, as well as Mrs McKendrick (Headmistress), were treated to a wonderful dinner by the catering team, where we got to hear all about what Wera is doing at the moment and what she has coming up. We were also joined by Lady Susannah Hobhouse who formerly attended Downe House as well as her son and Wera’s husband, William Hobhouse.
As somebody who has a passion for politics and is planning to study it at university, it was an incredible opportunity to hear of some of Wera’s experiences as well as her journey into politics, including her early life in communist East Germany.
We were fortunate enough to be able to hold a Q&A session with Wera in which we heard a range of her insightful opinions, including her thoughts on the development of Artificial Intelligence as well as the possibility of a Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition. We also discussed the issue of Scottish Independence and gained her thoughts on the future of the union, with her suggestion of further devolution but not independence.
I spent a wonderful evening at Downe House. We discussed every possible aspect of politics, from how to first get involved to the values that underpin our democratic system, to proportional representation, the present Israel-Gaza conflict and much more.
I came away inspired and hopeful that this group of young women will take their civic responsibilities seriously and get involved in public life.
– Wera Hobhouse, MP
The questions posed by the girls were extensive in range and showed a depth of knowledge that was exceptionally
impressive – Mrs Hobhouse had not quite expected to have to work so hard!
She was certainly very encouraged by the high levels of interest shown, and I was extremely proud.
– Mrs Emma McKendrick, Headmistress
However, the one answer that stuck with me the most, was her response to the question, “Which Prime Minister do you believe has been the most successful in the last 30 years?”
Whilst most may go with some of the big names of the last 30 years such as Blair, Cameron or Johnson, Wera unexpectedly answered Theresa May. Whilst not necessarily because of her ideological standpoint or policies but because of her strength and resilience as a woman in a traditionally male position and also her ability to remain in the political sphere following her resignation. Wera jokingly mentioned how she may be biased as her Westminster office is down the corridor from May and she still gets slightly nervous in her presence, despite this, she holds great respect for her as a woman.
Throughout the evening, Wera also highlighted the importance of embracing others’ opinions as, although we cannot agree with everyone, their views are just as significant as our own. I believe Wera’s commentary on respecting those we disagree with is such an important message as without opposition, we would never progress, and democracy would be irrelevant.
I want to express my gratitude to Wera and her family for come to talk to our Politics Society and giving us such significant topics to think about! I would like to extend this thanks to Emily for co-hosting with me and Mrs Barlow (Director of External Relations) for helping me arrange the event. Ultimately, this event provided me with so much to consider as well as gaining some incredible experience in leading such an event.