Thupten reports on his experience as our first Parliamentary intern
I was very fortunate to be selected to be the first Tibetan to intern for a UK MP. The internship was first of its kind, organised by the Tibet Society with support from MPs from the All Party-Parliamentary Group on Tibet. The internship was for the duration of two months — 6 weeks at the House of Commons and 2 weeks in the MP’s constituency office in Dundee.
Fortunately, I had Chris Law as my MP and he made sure to give me his personal attention and listened to my views regarding Tibet and range of other issues. Prior to the start of my internship, Chris kindly send me the book How to become a MP by Paul Flynn which was an excellent introduction to the UK parliamentary process and the life of an MP. With a brief background and a realist reading of international politics, I was very excited to observe the many theories I had learnt during my degrees in action.
Throughout the internship, Chris gave me a meticulous induction into the workings of an MP’s office and provided me with ample opportunity to take part in many of his meetings with different diplomats, national and international NGOs and the Press.
Chris is a fierce champion of human rights and national self determination and he gave me free rein to submit any written questions or to propose Early Day Motions on different issues. I wrote some written questions for the FCO on Tibet and an EDM on Tibet.
Chris chairs various committees, including the International Development Select Committee, and was also involved with the Westminster Endowment for Democracy’s projects in Ukraine in light of its ongoing crisis. I had access to a number of reports by NGOs and the media and helped prepare briefings for his meetings in the Committees as well as press briefings.
During the second leg of my internship, I was stationed in Chris’s constituency in Dundee. I attended some of the constituency surgeries and gained invaluable experience on managing constituency casework. It gave me an insight into how democratic representation can give voice to the constituents and have their concerns acted upon. It was also very inspiring to see the SNP activists at work and to hear and learn from their campaign experiences.
This was definitely one of the best internships I ever had. The experience gave me an invaluable insight into the workings of a highly developed democratic institution and the possibilities of positive changes that could be achieved through democratic representation – despite the usual cynicism surrounding politics. I currently work for a Tibetan NGO in the UK and I feel privileged to be able to draw from the skills I gained through this internship.
I would like to thank Tibet Society and Chris Law for this wonderful opportunity and highly recommend any young Tibetans to apply for this internship. I am hopeful that more such opportunities would be available for Tibetans in the future.