Recently I met with Will Quince, Conservative Member of Parliament for my constituency of Colchester. Unsurprisingly, I had quite a lot to ask him; I’m not exactly pro-Conservative so I was desperate to grill him on his views and where he stands with the government policies. I’m no political mastermind but I pride myself with knowing the basics; I like to keep up to date with current affairs and so on. Despite what people say, I find politics interesting. If it wasn’t for Journalism then I would have definitely studied Politics at university instead!
So, if you are interested in politics, or one day want to work in the field, or even want to see an MP’s spin on things, read on…
Why did you want to be a politician and how did you get into it?
It is quite easy for me to give a clichéd answer when asked why I wanted to become a politician. But, people must realise that it is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. You can never switch off. It is great that you get to help people – from solving small issues to getting involved in international campaigns. Politics is an amazing platform to get your voice heard. Fundamentally, I had a passion for politics and it all stemmed from there. From university, I stood to be a local counsellor and so on. I got knocked back a couple of times, so it is important to be resilient; it’s a lengthy process. Yet, it is hugely worthwhile.
How can young people be sure of a brighter future in Britain following Brexit and do you think that the voting age should have been lowered to 16 for the recent referendum?
You know, with Brexit you can’t be sure or certain about anything. It is a risk; we have always been in the EU for the younger generation’s lifetime. But, the predictions look good: economically and socially. I didn’t campaign for either side during the run up to the referendum, but ultimately I voted to leave the European Union – I do not regret that decision. The future for young people does look really bright. People must remember that we are not leaving Europe; we are leaving a political movement.
Personally, I voted against the voting age being lowered to 16 for the recent referendum. That is because it is absurd that you can’t vote in a local or general election, but can in a referendum. If we are going to lower the voting age, we need to do this properly. You can smoke at 16; drive at 17, so there needs to be clarity.
After the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and their subsequent self-examination, what actions have you or your colleagues taken to combat the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in your own party?
There is no evidence of anti-Semitism in the Conservative Party. However, the Labour Party of a number of occasions have crossed the line by attacking the Israeli government and so on. They have gone too far. In the UK there has been an increase in hate crime generally. We’re supposed to be leading an example in Westminster, so we need to start doing that.
Please describe your typical day.
There is no typical day and that is the beauty of this job. On Monday I arrive in Westminster for half seven in the morning, and the day finishes after 10pm once everyone has voted on the bills. Finance bills can go on until the early hours of the morning, sometimes 2am. Wednesdays are the same although finish a bit earlier. On Thursdays I host tours of the Houses of Parliament in the afternoon – they are really fun. Friday is constituency day and I spend my mornings in schools or at businesses, hosting talks or assemblies. In the afternoon I have what we call a ‘surgery’ where you can book a twenty-minute appointment to talk to me about your concerns or wishes.
What is your position on university tuition fees? Do you think they should be higher, lower or remain the same?
University fees are a tough topic. I was strongly against fees when I was a student. I’ve literally just paid off my student loan! Yet, if we want the best education, it has to be resourced. Why shouldn’t there be a cost attached to earning £250,000 on average more, as opposed to someone who doesn’t have a degree? However, I do believe that the fees shouldn’t be any more than they are now. With everything there comes a cost, but with that there is a value.
How does the Conservative Party plane to tackle the refugee crisis?
It is terrible what is happening. Britain is the 2nd in the world with money and aid contribution to the Middle East and the conflict zones. We need to address the issue at source; stop people trafficking as it is extremely dangerous. Now there’s fewer boats crossing from Turkey, thanks to the EU agreement with them, but now there’s an abundance coming from North Africa. I was one of 5 MPs who voted against bringing child refugees to the UK. The more the UK helps, the more it creates a pull factor. “Britain will take us in, Britain will help,” that sort of thing. If I were a parent, I would probably take the risk of the treacherous journey. Regardless, the UK is doing more than anyone except the US.
What will you and the Party do to improve the mental health services in the local area?
There is no easy fix; improving the services is going to be a lengthy process. Mental health services and the amount that they’re stretched is a big problem. Recently, I held a forum with the clinical conditioning group, local hospital and local mental health sector. We all agreed on helping those with mental health problems as so far the strategies in place have been a spectacular failure under governments of all colours. Any improvements made to mental health services will take a very long time – not only because of how the public view mental health, but also because we don’t have long-standing institutions to maintain campaigns.
How can a young person get work experience for a political future?
Work experience is great. I have people in to do work experience in my office all the time, and they gain a good insight into what I do. If you want a career in politics, however, don’t focus on politics. It may sound strange, but it’s true. Maintain a strong interest in it and get involved on a local level. You need real experience of the world before you embark on a political career. Employees and the public look for well-rounded individuals.
Do you think there is a possibility that we could bridge the wage gap between men and women in the foreseeable future? How do you think we should go about this?
I don’t know the answer to how we address it, unfortunately. We need to break the glass ceilings. Only 30% of MPs are women and that’s not good enough. It’s not acceptable. We need to do a lot more to make it an attractive place to work. Recently the Houses of Parliaments turned one of the bars into a crèche – it’s a small change but it makes a big difference.