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December 2019 - Peter Smith

I begin my Intern blog in late November 2019. Strand Street is bedecked with lights, the shelves of Marks and Spencer are filled and Elton John’s 1973 festive anthem ‘Step into Christmas’ is blaring across the airwaves. You will have deduced therefore, that the yuletide celebrations are very close indeed. At this time of year however, I consider the words of Sir Winston Churchill who remarked; “Christmas is a season not only for rejoicing but of reflection.” As I look back on my first few months as a Parliamentary Intern in Tynwald, there is much to reflect upon.

I will take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am Peter Smith, an undergraduate from Laxey. I attended St. Ninian’s High School in Douglas and went on to read Law at the University of Hull. Having completed my studies, I began searching for a job that not only allowed me to utilise the knowledge gained from my degree but a role that would also develop and enhance my personal skill set. I was fortunate enough to find the position of Parliamentary Intern advertised, I applied and was very grateful to be selected. 

Thrown in at the deep end within the first week, I was not expecting to be given the responsibility of carrying out research work for a Tynwald Committee so soon into my tenure. Initially a little daunting at first, the opening few weeks were a mix of introductions, welcomes and Committee related tasks. I was repeatedly thrown a lifebelt in the form of guidance by the considerate and very patient staff of the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald. As I hoped, my three years of study at University have assisted me to an extent for the research and report writing work assigned to me but I am still learning a variety of techniques to enhance efficiency and accuracy.

The position of Parliamentary Intern was advertised as providing “undergraduates with an opportunity to gain training and experience in a wide range of parliamentary functions, procedures and services within the parliamentary office.” Within my first three months, the role has already fulfilled the publicised job description and continues to help me build confidence in my abilities through the work I have carried out along with the Parliamentary experience I have received thus far. As a Parliamentary Intern, I have been fortunate enough to sit as an assistant clerk for two Tynwald Committees. The Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee and the Tynwald Select Committee on Poverty have both provided me with a new perspective to the legislative process of Tynwald. They have also opened my eyes to current issues surrounding poverty and justice in the Isle of Man. Work for Committees consist of minute-taking, report writing and general research tasks, all with the aim of assisting the Committee in their endeavours. I certainly look forward to continuing this work throughout my internship.

The Tynwald Education and Outreach programme is critical in ensuring that students on the Isle of Man have the opportunity to engage with the Manx political process. The programme aims to bring Parliament, political literacy and current affairs into the classroom through talks from Members or arranged visits to the chambers. It is the responsibility of an Intern to arrange the administration of this programme. University College Isle of Man was the first group I had the pleasure of showing around. Following a tour of the building, the Health and Social Care students engaged in debate, discussing matters relating to their studies with Mr Speaker, Mrs Barber MHK and Mrs Corlett MHK. My own interest in current affairs was sparked by a visit to Tynwald whilst I was a politics student in the Sixth Form. Being on the other end of proceedings as it were, I now feel compelled to ensure the students who visit receive the same level of assistance in learning about Tynwald and its functions as I did. This element to the role of an intern is very fulfilling and we have many more schools booked in to visit us in the new year.

So as Sir Winston suggested, I reflect upon my first few months as a Parliamentary Intern filled with a sense of gratitude towards those in the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald for welcoming me into the fold, a sense of achievement for the work I have carried out and a sense of eagerness for the challenges and opportunities the future will bring.