PolEconUK Conference 2024

In the Spring Term, Year 12 Politics students headed to London for The PolEconUK Conference, held at the Methodist Central Church Westminster. By all accounts, it was a most enlightening expedition, as Daira and George recount for us below.

After an early start and three hours on a coach, we emerged into the world of the Houses of Parliament. Well, opposite them. We filed into the Methodist Hall as it filled up for the annual PolEcon Conference, just in time for the first speaker, Wes Streeting – Labour MP and Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care who proceeded tell us how his party will solve the current NHS issues if, or as many feel, when they win the next general election.

After Streeting, we listened to one of the most inspirational men still in politics today: Lord Alf Dubs one of the few surviving Jewish children transported to the UK from Prague before WW2 broke out on the famous Kindertransport organised by British stockbroker Nicholas Witton, of which a movie was recently released. He is still an inspiration to so many and has been instrumental in amending laws to allow unaccompanied child refugees like him into the UK.

After Lord Dubs, we listened to leading Human Rights Lawyer Shami Chakrabarti ex-director of Liberty, who talked to us about her new book The Case for the Defence.

Then we experienced a remarkable change in mood as Leader of the Reform Party, Richard Tice, waltzed on the stage and proceeded to attempt to charm the audience, which for him did not go particularly well. It turns out the 2000 politically engaged students in the hall, were not massive fans of the Reform Party.

This was the first time during the day that the Israel-Palestine conflict was brought up in questioning and caused great tension in the hall. You really could feel the politics in the air!

After Tice, political veteran Jacob Rees-Mogg walked on to the stage. Rees-Mogg was eloquent, calm and spoke with utmost conviction, yet even he could not escape the anger from the crowd regarding his stance on the Middle East.

Finally we listened to the introduction of the most popular speaker of the day, Deputy-Leader of the Green Party, Zack Polanski. During Polanski’s speech, we snuck out of the conference hall to go see the Supreme Court, which happily was just around the corner. We entered Courtroom 1 and sat on judges’ chairs, recently used for the Rwanda case and soon to be used for the Shamima Begum appeal. It was interesting to see how ‘democratically’ transparent and accessible the location and rooms were to the public.

As we ventured further into the streets of London, we came face-to-face with an anti-monarchy pressure group protest, ‘Down with the Crown’ which dissolved within the space of an hour. The highlight of the day for many though was walking past Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, on the street, who was there for the Commonwealth celebrations in the aftermath of the Redbull/Christian Horner scandal. As dusk fell, we boarded the midnight train (a Marchants coach), heavily debating (yelling) all the way home. Truly, what a day it was!