Simon Carr: The kids were all right (and knew as much as our MPs)

Sketch

Share
Related Topics

When they walked in, the members of the UK Youth Parliament, my younger colleagues in the Gallery became wonderfully blimpish.

"He's wearing jeans! Is that a skirt or a belt? A rucksack, look, he's carrying a rucksack! Oh come on, that one's 10 years old! It's half-term, shouldn't they be out shoplifting? Look at that big unit, he'll need two constituencies! Good God, David Miliband!"

And when he says "Order!", they'll be like, "You're not my Mum!"

"Be nice, be nice," one nice lady said, after asking what it had been like.

How does that work? Nice. All right. They looked fresh, spoke confidently and had a touching eagerness to be part of the hoary old system. There were lots of girls, many different races, and a diverse dress code. They seemed sort of non-partisan. They were polite and clapped a lot. And all deserved their certificate for enjoying the day.

It may be what the new parliament looks like. It may sound like it, too. They were new to politics, or new to the Commons. They used the old forms, some with 19th- century flourishes, others with phrases like: "We must never be complacent." (I'm grinding my teeth a bit now).

They didn't really know anything about anything, or what they were doing there, or how little attention they would attract. That was all very lifelike. But I can feel my grip slipping, I fear.

Some of them mentioned the deficit. Or the best way out of the recession. Or the benign effects of prison. Or the fact that "much of the City is socially useless". One 15-year-old said "my constituents". Another referred to "my fellow MPs". And there it was, the familiar nauseation.

But, truth to tell, they were the equal in significance to any of Thursday's topical debates.

The awful thing was – they sounded okay. They may or may not have known the best way out of the recession, but then Ronnie Campbell and Andrew Dismore don't know either.

Is prison good or bad? Hugo Swire or Barry Gardiner can't be relied on any more than Jennings and Derbyshire yesterday. The actual MPs would have more figures or stats or soundbites – but mostly they wouldn't know any more about any particular thing outside their subject than the children.

Ignorance, these days, is no bar to having an opinion. The kids are in politics. And the politicians are delighted. They have been hanging around the school gates and have managed to get a whole new generation hooked.

Two causes for concern. None of the palace officers had a CRB certificate. How 400 school children got in and out without having been penetrated by one of our bestockinged, wand-waving, silver-wigged servants is frankly amazing.

Second: Speaker Bercow came a frightful cropper.

"I am imperfect but I have done my best," he said to a point of order from a Scots boy (who'd been sickened). The room went wild for Bercow with whooping, cheering, and a standing ovation. He was quite overcome.

So overcome that he quite lost his head. He was saying one minute that Speakers were above party politics and that they didn't get involved in controversy. The next minute he was calling one of the country's parties a "scourge", and "evil" and "driven by hate" and depending on "ignorance and apathy". What happens if the BNP were to actually get a seat in Westminster?

Children are let into the Chamber "to make a difference". And they certainly do. If only to the Speaker's reputation.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower