17 Nov UK Parliament Week 1st- 7th November 2020
Our Live Online Conversations with Zarah Sultana – The Coventry South MP
By Eve and Lola – Year 10 Young Reporters
We started our school week like normal until our tutor classes were made aware of the fact that from the 1st – 7th of November 2020 was UK Parliament Week and that we would be taking part in various activities to not only celebrate, but also to educate ourselves on the “ins and outs” of our U.K Parliament.
In order to do so, throughout the week we watched educational video clips showing us how Parliament works and what exactly takes place there. We found out really interesting things, such as the fact that Parliament is split into two Houses; the House of Lords and the House of Commons with green as the dominating colour. We discovered that commemorative shields were hung along the walls to remember all the MPs who sadly lost their lives when helping with the war effort.
After some exhilarating form-time sessions of learning, we were graced with the opportunity to have a conversation with Zarah Sultana, our local Labour MP for Coventry South.
On Thursday 5th November, we listened to Zarah (over MS Teams as a virtual platform of course), where Zarah told us all about her connections with Parliament – more specifically, details about her role as an MP, our democracy and how Parliament works. It was a riveting conversation, with our highlights being able to discover that one of the main parts of her job was supporting her Coventry constituencies. Additionally Zarah commented that one of the most challenging parts of the role was debating in Parliament about serious national and international issues and speaking up in Parliament and voting on legislations, which would become laws that we all need to adhere to.
For our final session on U.K Parliament Week, Friday 6th November, we spoke again to Zarah, but this time we had the opportunity to have her answer some of our questions.
When asked, “Did you always know you wanted to be an MP?”
Zarah responded by sharing her earliest memory of her passion for politics. When she was 10 years old, the decision of the British government to go to war with Iraq was a prominent issue of the time. It was her 10-year-old self that was completely against the Iraq war. We felt inspired when Zarah mentioned, “I felt like politics was interested in me, so I had to be interested in it.”
Some other questions from us…
– “If you could rewind the clock and have two different career paths, which one would you go for?”
Zarah shared that this was a difficult one, but said that she had many different paths that she may have wanted to go down. Things like, a teacher or journalist, or perhaps a doctor crossed her mind until she eventually decided on politics.
“How do you think the pandemic has changed and affected your job?”
Zarah definitely felt that her job had changed massively due to Covid-19.
We then learnt that Zarah was selected as the new Labour MP in the 2019 general election; hence having only been an MP for a few months before the 2020 pandemic hit was difficult for Zarah to adjust to doing more things virtually. Specifically, it was the issue of not being able to go out and campaign or being able to meet her staff that was certainly a challenge. Nevertheless, she eventually got the hang of it!
These questions were among many other insightful ones that we listened to in our virtual call, but all good things “come to an end”. However, upon reflection, we realised that anything is possible when you put your mind to it, as Zarah did. There was a moment of silence for us all to learn that as young BAME girl and from a Muslim background, Zarah not only experienced but also saw how other family members and her friends faced issues of racism.
UK Parliament week was a very intriguing and educational time in our school and we, as the rest of Whitley Academy are, very grateful for the amazing MP Zarah Sultana. We got to talk to a respected local MP and all the short stories Zarah shared with us will stay in our memories for a long time…
Zarah Sultana, when she was a 10-year-old child developed a clear interest in politics joined the Labour Party during her 6th Form days and has been the voice for the masses regarding social justice and equal opportunities for all!
Thank you for reading our blog.