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Students talk politics with local MP Darren Jones

Published on 10/07/18

Be a good listener and have humility – these were the words of advice from local MP Darren Jones when he visited Orchard School’s student leaders this term.

The Labour MP for Bristol North West visited Orchard School on June 29 to talk with our student council and prefects about representation and leadership.   

Orchard School's student council was formed earlier this year and has 28 councillors representing a cohort of 800. 

The students, from Years 7 to 10, wanted to find out what it takes to become a successful leader and how the MP represents his constituents - particularly the younger generation - in Parliament.

They were also able to quiz him on important matters such as budget cuts, Brexit, the Windrush scandal and of course, football.

Speaking about how he got involved in politics, Darren - who grew up in Southmead - told the students: “I had a great childhood, but my family did struggle to make ends meet. I was annoyed by lots of things growing up and there was lots of stuff that I wanted to change.

“I was the first person out of my family to go to university. I then trained to become a qualified lawyer. But I still had this urge to change things, so I decided to run as an MP.”

Darren, who has been in post for a year, added: “It’s hard work and you work a lot of hours, and it’s tough for your family too. But it’s a job in which you can help make people’s lives better.”

The MP claimed the Bristol North West seat in last year’s general election after it was held by the Conservative party for seven years.

One student asked Darren how he ensures that young people are listened to in his job. He responded: “Last year saw a huge rise in the number of young people voting in the general election.

“When speaking to my younger constituents, many of them were voting because they hadn’t voted in the Brexit referendum – and regretted it.

“I represent a hundred thousand people in this constituency, twenty-five thousand of whom are young people, and I see you and your views as just as important.

“I run regular surgeries, knock on doors and hold monthly coffee mornings, but if you can’t make those I encourage you, if you’re 13 years and older, to tune into my Facebook Live sessions and ask any questions.”   

The students shared ideas with Darren about the platforms he could use to engage more with young people, which included using Instagram and Snapchat.

Darren explained to the students his stance on Brexit and how he wants the people to have the final say over what deal the UK strikes with the EU.

He also regarded the treatment of the Windrush generation as “appalling” when asked about his opinion on the scandal. 

The students asked Darren what qualities you need to have to be a successful politician. He replied: “I can’t say whether I’ve been a successful MP until the end of my five years, but I’d say it’s very important to have humility as you can’t be right about everything. It’s also really important that you’re a good listener.”

Darren was also quizzed over his football club allegiances … Bristol Rovers or Bristol City? He responded: “In my constituency, I have both Rovers and City fans, so it would be wrong to support one and not the other – I support both teams.”

Yasmin, who is head girl at Orchard School and has aspirations to become an MP herself, said: “I liked that he is passionate about businesses being successful which I think is really important for the economy. He’s definitely made me more aware about the specific aspects and responsibilities of being an MP.”