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Blog: My Journey into Politics

Friday 8th November 2019

The Boys' Brigade is proud to be an official partner of UK Parliament Week (UKPW), which has been taking place over the last few days (2nd to 8th November).

As part of UKPW, 1st Lenzie recently held a 'Conversation in Politics' event based on BBC One's Question Time. Young leader Matthew McNaught told us about his journey into politics and how the event came about.

Last year, 1st Lenzie celebrated UK Parliament Week for the first time with a visit from former Scottish Conservative Leader, Baroness Goldie. This year, I was asked to chair our own version of the popular BBC One TV programme Question Time!

I was under the assumption that all I would have to do was show up and chair the discussions. But no! The whole night was under my leadership: coming up with panellists, choosing the questions, designing the floor and layout of the room etc. "Challenge accepted" was my initial thought.

An invitation was sent out to my local MSPs Ross Greer and Rona Mackay, who gracefully accepted, along with a Conservative MP from up north and my local MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson (who couldn't attend due to the impending Brexit deadline and the General Election!).

Following this, we got in touch with our local councillors who put forward panellists from these parties and, during KGVI, I spoke to Revd Derek Gunn who kindly volunteered to come along. The race to 1st November was on! Since the start of the session, I have been leading our Company’s Current Affairs Class; they came up with all the questions for the event and were 100% on board with the idea.

Following weeks of preparation, the night arrived - guests settled, audience welcomed, myself calm. The night itself went very smoothly, and I was able to adapt to time constraints well by skipping lesser important questions, but doing so in a polite manner. After the night was over, the sigh of relief was indescribable - I was so nervous prior to the event, but so proud of the fact I did it. It was honestly one of the best nights in my time with the Brigade.

I often get asked "Why are you so into politics?", and the simple answer is that I care about what’s happening in our country. I remember watching the exit poll of the 2010 General Election and asking my parents "Who is Gordon Brown?", "What's a Hung Parliament?" etc. Then Brexit happened. While I couldn't vote in the referendum, it was the first vote where I fully understood what was going on, and I came to an informed decision on what my view would be. From that day on, I began watching Prime Minister's Questions on a regular basis, I watched party leadership contests, and I became slightly addicted to John Bercow's signature "Order".

I wouldn’t say I 'studied' the ongoings of politics. It's just something I've picked up after catching the 'bug' quite early on. In my opinion, there will be something that happens in a person’s lifetime and they will catch the 'bug' - for me it was Brexit, for others, it might have been Thatcher being the first female Prime Minister or the first Hung Parliament in a long time in 2010.

When it comes to politics, I’ve learned there are no 'silly' questions. I've had many a chat with my local MP and I've asked her loads of questions, but I know from speaking to her that MPs enjoy young people asking questions, finding out more about politics and, eventually, catching the 'bug'.

Don't get me wrong, politics is a confusing topic. But over time you pick up bits and pieces. I would encourage everybody to gain as much information as they can - right now is the perfect time due to the upcoming General Election. If a young person asked me about how to learn more about politics, I would recommend that they ask questions of others; watch the news (Political Correspondents are fantastic at breaking it down); and follow what's happening on Twitter.

Politics is a passion of mine because of all of the recent events, and I hope it becomes a passion for more young people.

It has been great to see Companies up and down the country getting involved in UKPW this year.

Some examples include the Anchors and Juniors at 7th Chelmsford, who used the UK Parliament Week resource pack to learn all about Parliament, voting and debating. Members of Company Section and Seniors at 1st and 3rd Enfield came together to think about, discuss and debate issues that are important to them, as did the young people at 53rd Manchester.

Jack, 17, of 53rd Manchester said:

It has been great to get involved in UK Parliament Week at my Company. It's important to have the opportunity to share your views on real issues and on how you think the country should be run.

Daria, 15, also of 53rd Manchester commented:

UK Parliament Week is a really worthwhile occasion as it helps educate young people about the importance of Parliament and our democracy.

If your Company has been getting involved in UK Parliament Week do share your activities and photos with us on social media @theboysbrigade using the hashtag #UKPW or email us at newsdesk@boys-brigade.org.uk.