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Lord Adonis’ Talk to Politics Students

Lord Adonis 2

By Niamh Hanrahan

College welcomed Lord Adonis on 5th October, 2013, just before his engagement at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, to give a talk on many aspects of politics in Britain today. As a previous Secretary of State for Transport and someone who has worked in journalism at both The Financial Times and The Observer, it was fascinating to hear his view on current political issues, especially for those currently studying A level Politics.

Lord Adonis began his talk by explaining his own unconventional route into politics – he always felt intrigued by the political world, having read The Times as a boy and growing up amongst the mass strikes and feeble governments of the 1970s. However, after becoming an SDP Councillor in the 1980s (around the time that it merged with the Liberal Party to create the Liberal Democrats), he took up a career in journalism, working at newspapers such as The Observer. His route to a position in politics is unconventional as, in 2005 he was created a life peer, making his appointment as a Government Minister possible without ever being elected into Parliament.

Lord Adonis 2

He went on to discuss his view on relevant issues such as whether the House of Lords should be fully elected (he claims that it should be as it is ‘fundamentally unjustifiable’ to have a Second Chamber which does not have legitimate authority elections) and Michael Gove’s education reforms, which he largely supports apart from the endless changing to exams and the curriculum. Lord Adonis also spoke about HS2, an idea which he pioneered. He talked about why it is so controversial and why, like many other major world powers already, Britain needs a new rail system connecting its major cities. Topical debates such as the UK’s membership in the EU and Scottish independence were also mentioned. Lord Adonis explained Labour’s ideological position, as a pro-EU, unionist party with a strong social dimension, and how the structure Tony Blair created for New Labour still continues.

With time left at the end of the discussion, Lord Adonis was asked questions by members of the audience. These included his view on the treatment of Ed Miliband’s father by the Daily Mail, whether in the future HS2 would be extended to the South-West, and whether the tickets for HS2 would prove to be too expensive for the general public to buy. We would like to thank Lord Adonis for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to talk to girls – all of these questions were answered with insight and aided the audience’s (especially those studying politics) understanding of the way politics works today and different opinions on popular issues.

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