Anna Kuzan on art, politics and apprenticeships
I have always been a passionate advocate of the arts, and walking down the corridors of the House of Lords, I am often distracted by the paintings on the walls. Generally, the similarity between art and politics isn’t immediately obvious; however the structures of both politics and the arts are formed with the same values.
In my first week at work in the Lords, the place I chose for my apprenticeship with the Parliamentary Academy scheme, I went to watch a debate. I sat and listened as Peers presented arguments sculpted so perfectly, they almost resembled the stately busts of past politicians displayed in the halls. The atmosphere was almost theatrical, and the Chamber served as a stage where real issues commanded an audience. Both politics and the arts inspire discussion, forcing us to become more judgemental and more critical, as they construct our opinions.
In essence, they are both the by-product of our reaction to the world. Reports are published and legislation is drafted so they stand against society like notes in harmony on a score. Recently, as I’ve started researching and following Bills, including the recently published one on Children and Families, I watch how every word is scrutinised. Each sentence has to be purposeful, has to have earned its place and stand as an accurate reflection of what’s best for society and what it wants.
I have had some pretty strange experiences here too. After meeting the Prime Minister to mark National Apprenticeship Week, I found a picture on his Twitter where the camera caught me hiding in the background – looking pretty unimpressed. Soon a feature article about my apprentice colleague Rob Newbery and I will appear in The Times Education Supplement. With it, another photo; this time I’m casually leaning on grand leather bound Hansards, whilst Rob looks through the window into the distance.
But the reality is of course, different.
The first piece of work I did directly for a Peer was for Shadow Home Office Minister, Angela Smith – Labour’s very own Lady Basildon (a nod to Oscar Wilde there). Whilst speaking to her about living in Newham and Beckton, I realised that underlying it all, working in the Lords is primarily an exercise in empathy. We begin to understand lives, decisions, motives and the nature of all people as we meet them. More importantly, we appreciate the similarities between us – which is why it wasn’t hard for me to feel like I’d settled in.
Anna Kuzan is on a year-long apprenticeship as part of the Parliamentary Academy scheme, and is working within the Labour Lords whips office
Published 14th March 2013