Thoroughly aware of the sheer volume of work involved in politics at the recent Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP), Nadia Smith said such a high level career may not be for her just yet, “but there was a strong possibility the Falklands Legislative Assembly may beckon one day.”
Representing the Falklands, Nadia along with Pippa Christie attended the CYP which was held from September 6 to 10, in the Palace of Westminster and Portcullis House and hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) UK in partnership with the CPA Secretariat during the Centennial Year of the CPA.
Each Commonwealth state was invited to send two delegates to the event within the ages of 17- 29, and 100 delegates attended from six different continents.
Many of the other delegates were seasoned Youth Parliamentarians, others were already working as Parliamentary Clerks and a few were already serving politicians in their home states.
Nadia explained the event aimed to give a real flavour of the role of a parliamentarian, and parliamentary processes as well as engaging young people in discussions on the challenges facing the Commonwealth.
60 per cent of the Commonwealth is under the age of 60 and Dr William F Shija, Secretary General of CPA remarked that this highlighted the importance of their attendance as possible future leaders.
Those attending were expected to play a role as members of the government of a fictitious state, Commonwealthland, complete with governing and opposition parties, independent members of parliament, a prime minister, opposition leader and ministers and shadow ministers of different portfolios.
“The days were full-on with caucusing, speeches, debates, motions, bills and Select Committees, with preparation for the following day and discussions of the day’s events going on late into the night; often in the bar as we believe is the way of all good Westminster politicians,” said Nadia.
“It was interesting to observe the Youth Parliamentarian’s differing styles; some straight to the point, some theatrical and humorous, and others whose mannerisms and oratory were uncannily like those we had witnessed in the real Prime Minister’s Questions the day before,” she added.
So, was all that burning the midnight oil and courageous public speaking worthwhile?
Nadia said: “It enhanced our understanding of the work that goes on behind the scenes in a functioning democracy, as well as making lots of new friends.
Many of these friends are likely to be movers and shakers in their countries in the future and will hopefully maintain an interest in the Falklands as they do so.”
And while Nadia and Pippa were making new friends they were also surprised at how many long-time Falklands supporters they came across in their four days of rubbing shoulders with the real Parliamentarians in the Palace of Westminster.
“Lindsay Hoyle MP, Nigel Evans MP, Baroness Scotland, and Baroness Hooper were also particularly interested in hearing about our competitors in the Commonwealth Youth Games,” said Nadia.
The highlight of the four days was the final debate on the motion to reduce Commonwealthland’s carbon emissions by 100 per cent by 2050. This was held in the House of Lords, presided over by the Lord Speaker, Baroness D’Souza, with highlights of the debate screened on the BBC Parliament Channel.
“The debate made the history books as it was only the fifth time the House of Lords was used for anything other than official business and the first time ever that members of the House of Commons were invited to sit on the hallowed red benches,” said Nadia.
Spurred on by the Falklands’ track record in respect of climate change issues, Pippa Christie contributed to the debate urging the Governing and Opposition Parties not to use major powers’ own stance on climate change as an excuse for inaction and saying that small states could show the way.
Falkland Islands Government Representative, Sukey Cameron was invited to the House of Lords to observe the debate along with serving members of the House of Lords and House of Commons.
So now with a solid understanding of the parliamentary process Nadia and Pippa hope to be able to harness the experience to help set up a Falkland Islands Youth Parliament so that more young people get the opportunity to engage in debating political issues and to attend similar events all over the Commonwealth in future.
“Thank you to all those who supported our attendance at the event,” said Nadia. (Penguin News)