Yesterday I went along with other members of the North East Herts Constituency Labour Party (I know, a bit of a mouthful there)to meet up with Barbara Follett at the House of Commons. (For those who don't know, Barbara Follett is the Labour MP for the neighbouring constituency of Stevenage).
The thing that gets me about visiting Westminster is that I am almost used to visiting the Palace of Westminster, but am still attracted to the buzz of the place and some of the history and design. Some of the constituency members had never been before and were definetly in some awe, whether they agreed with some of the traditions or not.
We were shown by one of the House of Commons staff around the House of Lords, the lobby areas, the Commons, and their respective voting lobbies before being left in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the building, where people like Sir Thomas More, the Gunpowder Plot conspirators, and King Charles I were on trial for their lives, where Kings and Queens, and Sir Winston Churchill have lain in state, and where Parliament has been addressed by people like Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.
It is one big medieval hall and has changed little in appearance in the last 600 years.
Anyway, we met Barbara in a room at Portcullis House across the road, where about one-third of the MP's have their offices, and were treated to sandwiches, tea, and coffee, as we discussed the immediate future of the Party and the recent general election results in Hertfordshire, before some of us went to see a debate in the Commons from the gallery. There was a shortage of tickets and as I have been in the gallery before I settled with a brief sit-down in the Central Lobby with a couple of other constituency members, before sharing a pot of tea in a cafetria next to Westminster Hall, where we had a friendly, but lively debate on the merits and problems of religious schooling.
Just before we got on the minibus, the Leader of the Labour Group for North Herts District Council, David Kearns, got a call on his mobile to say that a Liberal Democrat Councillor in my area had resigned and that the by-election will be on Nov 17th.
Watch this space.