“A brilliant debate – everybody had their say and everybody listened respectfully to others while they spoke – much better than the Commons” is how Tim Farron commented on his recent meeting with the 5th Kendal Rainbow unit as part of UK Parliament week.
Their leader Jo Conway had explored the issues of parliament and democracy with the girls in her charge, making use of a House of Commons resource pack with a ballot box, posters, and some very helpful ideas.
The Rainbows picked an imaginary topic for their debate: “Should boys be allowed to join Rainbows?” and, after they had come up with arguments for and against, decided in a quick vote that Rainbows should remain girls-only.
They then staged the debate in the District Council chamber at Kendal Town Hall with Tim Farron as the chair. Each girl stated her prepared argument, but some of them were confident enough to ad-lib as well. Arguments ranged from “Boys shouldn’t join Rainbows because all my other groups have boys in too and it is nice to have a group for girls only” to “It would be good for boys to join Rainbows because they may choose different activities that girls might not think of.” At the end a formal vote was taken, and this time they decided in favour of the motion, thus illustrating the power of reasoned debate.
Tim Farron then took some questions, including whether his children want to be politicians, and whether the Queen is actually the King. 6-year-old Emma Hankey asked him who of Theresa May or Donald Trump he would vote for, to which he explained that he’d rather vote for Barack Obama.
The girls loved having their photo taken with their MP and were very excited about the event. Event leader Jo Conway was very pleased with the evening: “I am very proud of all the girls. Each and every one of them asked Tim a question and sat patiently listening to each other speak. Despite being only between 5 and 7 years old they came up with some great, and sometimes amusing, direct questions that kept Tim on his toes. A great initiative by the Houses of Parliament to make politics of interest to all ages.”