The first time I sat on the green benches was not quite what I had imagined. Let me explain…
A few days before Parliament officially returned for the State Opening, myself and the new Team Tees Tories traveled down for our induction. Some of you may have seen the picture of us in our matching blue scarves on the train platform.
Step one of our induction was being taken on a very thorough tour of Parliament by one of the Doorkeepers – brilliant Parliamentary Staff who have unrivaled knowledge of the Parliamentary Estate, impeccable manners, and told us they are expected to learn the names and faces of all MPs. I saw many of them at various points flicking through a pocket guide to the new intake MPs, complete with our names, photos, constituencies, and our parties.
The difference between the tourist tours and ours was that we, as new MPs, were taken to all the Members Only areas like the Smoking Room (where you can’t smoke any more) and the Members Cloakroom.
In the Cloakroom, each of us has our own designated hanger and coat hook, arranged alphabetically by constituency. We noticed each hanger had a red ribbon tied to it. Why, you may ask? So that we can hang up our swords of course!
It’s one of the many historical eccentricities that still exist in Parliament. However, in a clear sign that MPs have a sense of humour, I spotted a plastic sword, a replica axe, and a lightsaber hanging amongst the coats. (I’m looking forward to adding Thor’s Hammer to the collection when I return next week!)
Our tour showed us the voting lobbies, then took us through the House of Commons Chamber. Standing amongst the green benches, seeing the Dispatch Box, soaking in the atmosphere, knowing so many political heavyweights have spoken in that room, is a remarkable feeling.
Then I had a thought.
I turned to our lovely Doorkeeper and said, rather sheepishly:
“So, does this mean we’re allowed to sit on the green benches now?”
He smirked, amused, and clearly having been asked multiple times before.
“Yes, Madam, they’re your benches!”
I must have grinned, before walking slowly up the steps and along one of the back rows, stopping right in the middle of the Government side.
I took a moment to close my eyes and breathe, mentally giving thanks to all those who had got me there, particularly to the 24,067 Bishop Auckland residents who kindly gave me their support in the election.
And then, in one of the most memorable moments of my life, I sat down on the green benches for the first time.
It wasn’t what I expected.
Largely because I was wearing black skinny jeans, black-and-sequinned combat boots, and a white T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Being kind is free”. As I have been dubbed, “the face of the modern Conservative Party!"
But there I sat. 26, elected to the Mother of all Parliaments, and with the opportunity to take practical steps to improve the lives of people in my local community and of my country.
Readers may be pleased to note that, for my second session on the green benches, I replaced the T-shirt with more appropriate work attire. However, I fully plan to stick to the sentiment that was printed on it, as I do believe there is no need for personal nastiness in politics and a bit of kindness never goes amiss.
Tomorrow, I drive back to London ready for my first day in Parliament of the New Year on Monday.
Now that Christmas is behind us, it’s time to get to work. And I can’t wait.
Dehenna Davison, Conservative Member of Parliament for Bishop Auckland