Before social distancing and lockdown began, my team and I welcomed Paddy from the Earlham Institute in Norwich to the world of Westminster to see what we do everyday.
Paddy has kindly written a short analysis of his time with us, as a throwback to simpler times. We hope to get schemes like this up and running again (alongside our work experience programme in collaboration with UEA) as soon as it is safe to do so.
“One fine Tuesday morning, I found myself waiting in the entrance lobby for visitors, at Portcullis House, Westminster, London. It was to be my first day of “shadowing” MP Clive Lewis as part of the Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme between Scientists and Parliamentarians (https://royalsociety.org/grants-schemes-awa…/pairing-scheme/). The following two days, as part of the Shadowing stint, were intriguing. Having been conditioned by being in science for a good part of my life, my expectations about politics and politicians were at best cautionary, and I had heard mixed tales and experiences about the Shadowing days from colleagues who previously participated in the Pairing programme.
However, my scepticism evaporated when I was greeted by Clive himself upon arrival. Clive came across as an extremely friendly and open-minded person, as well as knowledgeable on many fronts – from economics to ecology to constitutional frameworks. Immediately I understood why he is such a big part of the cross-party efforts to herald new economic policies, including the Green New Deal.
As part of the Shadowing day, I could see for myself what an average day looks like in the life of an MP. I was fortunate enough to sit in on some of the scheduled meetings in Clive’s calendar, and was made to feel welcome and comfortable by Clive’s ever-friendly and astute team, even though some of the topics of discussions were out of my league.
On the second day, Clive invited me as his visitor into the Chamber of the House of Commons. It was my very first experience witnessing the much heated debates inside the UK Parliament and it was thrilling to see Prime Minister’s Questions in action.
Clive was extremely generous with his time and I relished the opportunity to discuss many issues, from the lack of interdisciplinarity in Science in the context of addressing global challenges to why the Sustainable Development Goals have not been institutionalized in Parliamentary democracies.
We need politicians and human beings like Clive, and his team, to make the world a better place for all, and not just a few, and I consider myself lucky to have met him and see the workings of Parliament first hand.”