As published by the Daily Express:
On Friday, October 29, I will be co-hosting the world’s first virtual Children’s Parliament. Up to 650 seven to 11-year-olds, from each constituency, will come together to debate and vote on issues that matter to them, including Covid, technology and environmental matters.
However, I wish that I was not chairing this event because I am picking up the baton in incredibly difficult and sad circumstances. The real driving force was Sir David Amess who was murdered in a cowardly act of terror. David was a man who loved Parliament and saw the importance of the role he so ably fulfilled. He put it best when he said: “It is the greatest privilege that anyone can have to be elected to our Parliament, I still think that it is the best Parliament in the world.”
He was absolutely right.
And the Children’s Parliament is an excellent introduction to that privilege.
The ability of Parliament to hold accountable those in power only comes from MPs holding a genuine passion for politics and for making our country a better place.
Through the roles of scrutiny and oversight, they improve the quality of legislation impacting every part of life in the UK.
This was a view shared by David, who knew you do not have to hold ministerial office to effect real change. He devoted himself to championing and raising awareness of arthritis, asthma, endometriosis, animal welfare and fire safety. As the tributes have made clear, he was willing to work with people across the political divide.
He didn’t limit himself to friends of any one party, he challenged people to disagree but not demonise, and argue without resorting to hostility.
And in doing this, he had to be clever, skilful and assiduous. All traits David had in droves. Speaking to the Daily Express, he said: “The earlier young people get involved in politics the better.”
He was right, and that is why he was so driven to get them involved in politics through the Children’s Parliament project. Through this project, I hope early exposure to parliamentary democracy will help instil those same essential traits in the next generation.
If that can be achieved, and I believe it absolutely can, then the Children’s Parliament will be a fitting legacy of a truly exceptional man.