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Nicola Cowsill | August 2015

My name is Nicola Cowsill, I recently started a parliamentary internship at Tynwald, the parliament in the Isle of Man. Even though I have grown up here, I have never necessarily thought about the sittings that happen on Finch Road deciding the Island’s future, until I saw this position advertised on the Tynwald Website. Obviously being a politics student I was engaged with Manx politics, by voting for a Member of the House of Keys and seeing what legislation affected me as a student. However, I have never thought about coming to watch a sitting or using the Tynwald Library to research. Now as a parliamentary intern, I now feel it is my duty to engage with schools in the Isle of Man and get the message around about what a great place this is for researching and engaging in Manx politics.

My first couple of weeks working for Tynwald have been nothing short of educational. First of all, I have been going on tours of the build up my knowledge base about the chambers for the tours I will be taking over the year. This was the best time to start at the parliament as all the chambers were in recess and it meant I had time to settle in and get to know the daily proceedings. When I first arrived I was assigned to design a map for people who come into the Library to find where the other government buildings are. I was also assigned a research item for a member of the public who had emailed into the library about universal suffrage in the Isle of Man. Even though here on the island we can boast that we were the first place to give women the vote, it had many stringent limitations on the law as you needed to have status and land to vote. It is so interesting working at a place where that information is at my fingertips.

My second week was updating the Members and Ministers section on the internal website. Even though it may appear as a gruelling task it was actually a really useful way of learning who each minister is. When I was not updating the list I was putting together gift bags for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference that Tynwald was hosting the following week. We had delegates coming from Cook Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Prince Edward Island and many more interesting places with unique and small parliaments.

During my third week of being an intern, it was the CPA conference. I met delegates from all across the globe, this was very enlightening, to see islands so different but yet so similar, you really do not think of other small parliaments like ourselves whether they are one of three unicameral parliaments like the Northern Territory of Australia or an island country parliament sitting in the middle of the Pacific. I did miss a day of the conference as I was sent to London to the Pakistani High Commission on parliamentary business. I felt official representing Tynwald in the big smoke.

In the last week of August, everything had calmed down after the conference. I decided to concentrate on the educational pack for schools, starring the parliament’s mascot Tynwald Ted. In this pack I want to give a brief yet informative introduction to Tynwald so that children on the island are more engaged with Manx politics. As when I was at school there was nothing taught about politics in the Isle of Man, I feel it is important as the voting age on the island is sixteen, so it is important that they are informed. Getting the point across the teenagers and children can be hard. This taught me the value of social media when informing people of what we do here at the parliament and the mediums we can go through to get our point across, such as infographics.

Thus far my first month at the parliament has been exciting and I have learnt a great deal. I look forward to when the chambers are in session again so I can witness politics in action.