On Saturday 2nd February, Leeds Labour Students were very lucky to catch up and have a cuppa with Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry.
Emily visited us at Hyde Park Book Club for an informal chat about all things politics and student life.
In all honesty, the entire room was captivated and in awe of her. As an avid campaigner for many humanitarian campaigns, Emily is the mouthpiece for social change and a perfect representation of what a Labour government would look like.
When asked about student involvement in local elections, Emily admitted that it is hard to engage students. However, she expressed that the majority of students voted Labour in the last general election and, therefore, LLS should tap into this following and develop more student involvement on a local level.
Emily also told us that as students, in order to show Theresa May that we want a Labour government, we should exercise our limited power in local elections. By having more Labour local councillors, it will send a message to the Conservative government and show that it’s not only governmental control that is important – local councils make a massive difference to our country too.
Emily was very humbled by her experience as an MP. Her proudest moment was being elected as the MP of her constituency, South Islington and Finsbury, in 2005.
Emily also spoke a great deal about how her main concern is making a difference. She was inspirational and told us about how much she campaigned on the streets to remain in the EU. Emily expressed how much she enjoys talking to people face-to face, hearing their opinions and being more of a hands-on and engaged MP.
I think her approach is admirable. As a woman who is working in the Foreign Office, she still found time in her busy schedule to come and chat to us, demonstrating how dedicated she is to more “hands on” politics in Britain.
Unfortunately, being an MP hasn’t been a barrel of laughs for Emily either. On the brink of tears, she said that one of her hardest moments as an MP occurred a few weeks ago when she had heard of a killing in her constituency. She told us how she visited the family of the deceased boy and mourned the loss of their son with them as the room fell silent. It is truly admirable that she still is in touch with her local constituency and helps people in need, as politicians should.
Emily also expressed that to us as students who will graduate soon, that there is an overwhelming need for social, affordable housing that isn’t being sufficed by the Conservative government.
Students that are already riddled with debt after completing higher education cannot afford to move to big cities and climb the property ladder as we simply do not have enough houses. Emily said that under a Labour government, there would be more social housing and that, in her district, she is in talks with construction agencies to exclusively build affordable housing.
Having Emily Thornberry visit was truly inspirational and we hope she comes to visit Leeds Labour Students again!
Zahra Iqbal, News Editor and Social Media Secretary for Leeds Labour Students
Image: [Zahra Iqbal]