Ellie Reeves MP discusses women in politics

Our Political Awareness Club, led by year 13 Maddy Gowers, was delighted to host Ellie Reeves MP for Lewisham West and Penge at their first meeting of the year on Wednesday 3 October.

Ms Reeves described her journey to becoming elected in 2017, after a whirlwind campaign during the snap election, when her local seat became available after 25 years. Prior to becoming an MP, she qualified as an employment law barrister and had started a business from home offering employment rights advice to women and families, but had always been an active member of the Labour party. She explained that usually it is not so quick a route to becoming an MP and takes years of campaigning but now that she has her seat she is very keen to talk about women in politics and ensure that the profession is not off-putting.

The group heard about her observations from the last 18 months and her ideas for reform towards a more modern, family friendly parliament, from the old fashioned language and processes (such as the system for registering in voting lobbies, which she feels ought to be available electronically as an alternative) to the time that MPs are expected to sit, she explained that she is campaigning for change. Despite the leaps that have been made so far, she feels that much more can be done. An interesting topic was that of MPs who have children whilst in post and the fact that, currently, there is no formal arrangement for women who take time off when they have a baby, but merely an informal arrangement where MPs ‘pair’ with another member from the opposition who will abstain from voting in order to cancel each other out. Of course, this is not transparent and can break down but she feels that there will imminently be an official arrangement for ‘baby leave’ such as a proxy vote. The more women elected, the more likely change will happen.

Ms Reeves explained that she is currently on conference recess and is therefore able to meet with constituents from pensioners to school pupils to local businesses and how much she enjoys her job as it is so varied and rewarding, despite its challenges – especially in the current Brexit climate!

As an aspiring politician, it was amazing to be able to hear from a real life MP about what it’s like to work in the House of Commons and be able to participate in and handle the responsibility that comes with the representative democracy that we are a part of.

– Maddy Gowers, year 13