Clegg v Farage one of the topics discussed as Labour peer visits Newport politics students
20:03 11 April 2014
House of Lords reform, the expenses scandal and whether Britain should be in or out of Europe were all discussed when a Labour peer visited a group of sixth form students.
Baroness Genista McIntosh of Hudnall, who lives in Thaxted, gave a talk at Newport Free Grammar School earlier this month as part of the Peers in Schools programme.
She told students how former Prime Minister Tony Blair made her a life peer in 1999 following her long and distinguished career in the Arts.
“Getting this generation to engage with politics is both very important and a bit of an uphill struggle,” Baroness McIntosh said afterwards when asked what the aim of her visit had been.
“That is why it’s tremendously encouraging when you come and talk to a group like this and they are well informed and lively. It makes me think we’re OK – we’re in safe hands.
“I love doing it and always feel better going away than I did when I came in. It’s a very good scheme.”
Students were given the opportunity to grill Baroness McIntosh on a range of subjects. These included the impact Scottish independence would have on the Labour Party’s chances of governing Britain again, whether House of Lord peers should be elected and if removing branding from cigarette packets would discourage people from smoking.
When asked about the fiery television debates between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, the overwhelming consensus in the room was that Britain should remain part of the European Union.
Baroness McIntosh worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company for almost 20 years and was executive director of the Royal National Theatre from 1990 to 1996 and 1997 to 2002.
In 1997 she was appointed Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, but resigned after only five months due to ill health.
The Peers in Schools programme was launched in 2007 in an attempt to raise awareness of the House of Lords and encourage people to get involved in its work.