Dem Summers: Tori Wenger’s Parliamentary Power

The Dems have been busy over the summer: interning, working, volunteering, traveling, and of course, indulging in some leisure time not oft found in Cambridge (leave it to a Harvard student to be busy spending leisure time.) This is part VI of an indefinite series. If you’re a Harvard Dem (or rising pre-frosh with interest), we’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. | E-mail

Tori Wenger, HCD Treasurer in front of the Houses of Parliament

I spent the majority of my summer living in London while interning for Luciana Berger, who is the Labour and Co-operative Member of Parliament for Liverpool-Wavertree. During my time in her office, Luciana was leading Labour through the committee stage of the Energy Bill in her role as the Shadow Minister for Climate Change. This meant that I was tasked with doing research on various amendments that Labour was presenting in committee and preparing notes and speeches for debate (and then literally running them to the committee room in time for Luciana to speak).
While Labour’s position as the opposition party to the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government put the party at a disadvantage for getting any amendments passed in committee, a highlight of the Energy Bill’s committee stage was when Labour was able to pass it’s first amendment in committee (for ANY bill since the Coalition took over). The amendment ensured that a green apprenticeships program would be instated as part of the legislation, providing jobs and skills training for youth across the UK. While, for sake of full disclosure, the amendment only passed because the Conservatives weren’t paying attention when the vote was called and it passed by their abstention, I was nonetheless giddy to see some of my work payoff – even if only by mistake!
As the Energy Bill’s committee stage concluded, the News of the World phone hacking scandal hit the airwaves and entirely consumed Parliament’s agenda leading up to summer recess. I spent my final days in the office trying to juggle my daily tasks of scheduling meetings and sorting mail while fixating my eyes and ears on the coverage of the Murdoch committee hearings.
Needless to say, it was overall a very interesting time to be working in UK parliament. While I savored my experiences engrossed in UK politics – watching Prime Minister’s questions and laughing at the comedy of the tradition heckling on the Commons floor (something that would never be permissible in either of our government’s Congressional chambers), working in an office with only one other staffer and direct access to my MP (something that would never happen even in the office of the most junior Congressperson in the US), and chillin’ with the Queen (okay, that part didn’t actually happen), I certainly came home with a thirst for jumping back into American politics. Lucky for me, I’ve got another year ahead with the Dems to quench it!!