Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Entertaining the Honourable Member for East Dumbartonshire – Jo Swinson MP

For the last six days I have been on a temporary “holiday” in a different part of town with Jo Swinson MP. Jo was taking part in VSO’s Parliamentarian scheme, where MPs visit a country for a short time to be involved in high level advocacy in her case the Climate Change Commission Bill, for Nigeria. As they are supposed to behave like “real volunteers” they get to stay with volunteers. VSO decided she should have the best they could offer and put her in a flat in Zone 2, to stay with Viola. Viola was in Germany though, so I offered to stay there with her, which gave me a great opportunity to get to know Jo in between all her important meetings.
Jo and Ugochi
Jo was formerly the youngest MP, elected when she was 24, and first stood for parliament against John Prescott, the then Deputy Prime Minister when she was only 21, so you can imagine she is quite an inspiration. It’s worth taking a look at her facebook page, she also tweets, to get an idea how younger MPs may help to involve younger people in politics. 

Final alterations on Jo's dress with Chisoba the tailor
Over the weekend I took Jo to the tailor so she now promises to wear her new dress in the House of Commons, and then we met other volunteers for barbecued fish on Sunday. It was a real privilege to spend time with her and to introduce her to others who helped her understand Nigeria and were inspired by her, for example Jo told them of door knocking every week in her constituency even when it is not election time, (to ensure she contacts people who will never contact her). She was also able to explain to Nigerians, who are very cynical about the lack of Democracy the story of the Liberal Democrats, who have gone from being a minority party to being a part of government.
Jo and I dressed Nigerian
 I had always wondered why MPs use the terms “the Honourable Member for ..” and now know that you cannot use names in parliament as each MP is speaking on behalf of their constituents, and replying to the constituents of another MP. I’ll be keeping in touch with Jo especially as she has promised to take me for tea in the House of Commons when I am back in the UK. And thanks again Jo it was great to meet you, you’re an inspiration!
Jo and Velice, eating fish and talking politics

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