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Politics students visit the Scottish Parliament
Politics students visit the Scottish Parliament

As a Politics student at Edge Hill, you will be frequently offered the chance to visit political institutions and organisations. Second year History and Politics student Lewis Melville reports on a recent visit to the Scottish Parliament.

Edge Hill Politics students had the opportunity to visit the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh to see how it works, and to get a sense of how the Scottish Government operates. It was a packed day! First, students took the opportunity to visit the Gallery exhibitions in the Holyrood Parliament building. The exhibitions consist of the policy achievements of the Scottish Government such as The Land Reform Act and LGBT rights. There is also display material about the call for independence.

Shortly afterwards, students got front row seats in the gallery over the chamber to view the parliamentary procedures, beginning with General Questions (questions to a Cabinet Minister in the UK Parliament). Discussion focused on homelessness, as well as the highly controversial Deposit Return Scheme, promoted by the Scottish National Party (SNP) / Green. This is the process of businesses adopting a buy-back scheme for plastic, metal, and glass, in an attempt to combat littering and promote recycling.

photo credits: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

“Visiting the Scottish Parliament has given me a deeper understanding of the devolved powers of Scotland and how the SNP operates the current Scottish parliament, in relation to the wider Conservative Government of the UK and how they cooperate and debate their difference of policies and positions.”

Lewis Melville
BA (Hons) History & Politics

First Minister’s Questions then took place. This is a bit like Prime Minister’s Questions. Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) questioned the First Minister, (currently) Nicola Sturgeon on issues such as rent increases for student accommodation across Scotland and worries about food shortages. Problems of bullying or harassment in schools was also raised.

Nicola Sturgeon did not escape criticism. Discussions centred around the disagreements that have taken place during the contest for leader of the SNP and next First Minister. As Sturgeon has announced she stepping down from her role, this provided an opportunity for Conservative and Labour leaders to attack. Opposition party members highlighted the current infighting taking place within the SNP, arguing that the SNP candidates’ only unifying policy is the call for another independence referendum.

The day ended with votes taking place on the policies being discussed throughout the proceedings, giving us the opportunity to witness first hand, policies being agreed, amended, or declined.  MSPs voted by pressing a button at their desks so votes are speedy compared to those at Westminster.

Students were given a great insight into the processes by which the devolved Government of Scotland functions in relation to the rest of the UK and were able to understand the current issues enlivening Scottish Politics.

The whole day left the group with a deeper understanding of the current political structures in place in Scotland, how they function, and the framework MSP’s operate under as they try to make changes to improve things.

Edge Hill University Politics and International Relations students will have plenty of networking opportunities and lively debates. We run field trips to party conferences and political events, giving you a real-world experience of the current political landscape.

March 15, 2023