– Jamie Waller contributed to this report
As esteemed visitors go, they don’t get much more prestigious than a member of the House of Lords, as the University of Lincoln was lucky enough to play host to Lord Cormack.As a Conservative MP for 40 years and a member of the House of Lords for the last three, Cormack brought a lot of experience to the talk.
He spoke about some of the issues which he was passionate about, including the constitution, saying he would “die in the ditch” for it.
He also argued that Britain was better off with an unelected chamber to prevent the kind of gridlock that countries like the USA often saw.
At the start of the debate, he praised everyone who turned up, saying it was important that young people took an interest in politics.
However, he said he didn’t support lowering the voting age to encourage participation as they needed more experience of the world first. He also said he would prefer everyone to vote for Labour than to not vote at all.
Despite Conservatives traditionally being unpopular with students, he was warmly received by the audience. He was not the typical Tory, having rebelled more than any other MP against Margaret Thatcher and having a son who is a Liberal Democrat supporter.
One of the major talking points was what the unelected House of Lords brought to British democracy. Lord Cormack defended it, saying Lords were often better informed and less partisan than the House of Commons. He argued the expertise of its many non-political members often made bad bills that were sent to them better.
On the subject of the “West Lothian question” – whether Scottish MPs should be able to vote on English matters – Lord Cormack said he was against an English Parliament, but agreed something would have to be done.
He was also firmly against Scottish independence. He said: “The United Kingdom is more than the sum of its parts.” He added that, although he considered himself English, he had deep connections with Scotland.
The topics ranged from the tragic, such as the evacuation of Jews from Soviet-occupied Hungary, to the humorous, like did MPs ever fall asleep during debates? (The answer was yes, on more than a few occasions.)
The event was hosted by the Politics Society and chaired by Natasha Chapman. She said: “The questions asked by the attendees were very good and showed that many students have a good understanding of political issues and were keen to discuss these. I was also impressed by the diversity of political opinion in the room.”Tweet