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Westminster comes to Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s Politics Society hit the ground running last month with three high profile political speakers in as many weeks.
The first guest was Mr Alec Shelbrooke, the Conservative MP for Elmet and Rothwell. He fielded tricky questions about Britain’s relationship with the European Union and the government’s controversial welfare reforms.

Alec Shelbrooke visits Notre Dame

He was followed by was Mr Stuart Andrew, the Conservative MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough. Student David Aldwinkle asked Mr Andrew why he had left the Conservatives for Labour in the late 1990s, only to rejoin the Tories again a few years later. Mr Andrew said that it was his response, as a gay man, to the more illiberal stances of the Conservatives at that time – this was described by Mr Warnes, teacher of Government and Politics, as “The most fascinating answer” he had ever heard from a visiting speaker at Notre Dame.

Stuart Andrew after his talk with Notre Dame students

The third visitor to the department was Mr George Galloway, the MP for Bradford West. Speaking on the eve of his Respect Party’s tenth birthday celebrations, Mr Galloway spoke about the inequities of British society. He took questions ranging from Iraq to Syria to his high profile expulsion from the Labour Party and stayed behind to greet individual students afterwards. Mr Galloway was even kind enough to pose for a ‘selfie’ with one student.

George Galloway speaking at Notre Dame

Mr Allan Clifford, Notre Dame’s Head of Government and Politics, described the January visits as a “colourful contrast in political style and substance”. He added that more sessions are in the pipeline, culminating in a European Elections Question Time event in May chaired by Mr Warnes that will bring the five leading party candidates together in the lecture theatre for a “good grilling by our brilliant students”.