Working behind the scenes to help residents is the real role of an MP, not just ‘shouting at each other on television’, college students have been told.
Young people studying politics and Student Union officers learned about the reality of the role when Worthing West MP Sir Peter Bottomley and East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton visited Worthing College last Friday.
The town’s two MPs were welcomed by principal Paul Riley and Student Union president Brad Hardwick.
Brad said: “It was a great opportunity to sit and hear first-hand about the job they do and it certainly challenged some of our perceptions about the reality of the job and the impact they can have, much of which goes unnoticed on a day-to-day level but can make a significant difference to people’s lives.”
The aim was to give the students an insight into the role and responsibilities of being an effective MP.
Mr Loughton told them: “Despite what you see on television with MPs shouting at each other, the real work goes on behind the scenes bringing the right people together.”
He and Sir Peter explained how they work collaboratively with each other locally and with others nationally, often in a cross-party way, as this was the best way to things resolved.
They talked about the work they do on a day-to-day basis representing their constituents and reminded the students that they represent the needs of all their constituents, regardless of whether they support their party political views. They also gave several examples of how a local issue can have an impact and lead to changes in the law.
Mr Loughton said it was important to him that he made himself available and visible to the people he represents in Parliament.
As well as his formal surgery sessions, where constituents bring issues to him, he likes to get out and meet people at his street surgeries, which he holds regularly at shopping centres and farmers’ markets.
He explained:”This is where I can gauge the mood of my constituents on a range of national and local issues.”
When one student questioned the future of Teville Gate, both MPs made a direct plea to the students to get involved in local politics and get their voices heard on local issues.
Sir Peter said: “You are the future, you’re the ones who will be affected by decisions being made now. Look at our local mayor, Alex Harman, also alumni from this college. He is just 23 years old and doing a brilliant job representing the people and town of Worthing.”
The MPs were joined by alumni Joe Osborne, who works for Sir Peter as a parliamentary assistant.
Staff were pleased to welcome back Joe, who studied A-levels in government and politics, sociology and history at the college before leaving in 2014 to read history and politics at the University of Portsmouth.