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When Jas met Diane Abbott

TELLING THE TRUTH: Jasmine and Diane Abbott

I HAVE been recording the Ladies Talk weekly TV panel show on Sky Channel 218, which has been swimming with celebs this past fortnight!

On last week’s show we had actor David Harwood MBE on and this week’s it was Colin Salmon! Although my recent favourite has got to be MP Diane Abbott - she was so entertaining and real!

Diane was the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons. In 2010, she became Shadow Public Health Minister after unsuccessfully standing for election as leader of the Labour Party, that’s how big her balls are! I have to confess I wasn’t that bothered either way when I first heard she was our guest a few weeks back. I’ve seen her on various television shows over the years and thought she didn’t really engage with me and was like most politicians - a little out of touch.

I couldn’t have been more wrong! On the show she was dynamic, intriguing and hilarious with her fast wit and anecdotes and kept it very real when discussing her personal life, controversy in her 25 year career and more. She is certainly a testament to the black doesn’t crack theory; she’s 59-years-old, yet she still looks 40 at the most!

She dropped a few patois slang phrases into the interview as well as sharp, funny, responses to questions and was really very intriguing as a person. Can you imagine the struggles she’s had to go through to get this far? And she’s probably revealed none of the real controversy to date. Surely there’s a great book waiting to be written here?



IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: Youth Parliament ladies Shanwtee Harris, Jasmine AND Michaela Philpot

From one generation of politicians to another. I popped on my formal attire to brave the cold corridors of Parliament and the House of Commons where I accompanied the LONDON360 reporters for the UK Youth Parliament annual meeting.

Youth from all across the country voted on five areas that they think are most important for their parliament to focus on for the next year. This day in chambers was for all to debate each motion and choose a winning campaign that would be the focused priority for all youth in the near future.

The five topics which had been voted in by the young parliamentarians were; Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.

Getting ready for work

Marriage for all

An equal national minimum wage for all

A curriculum to prepare us for life

It was fascinating to see so many young, politically engaged, ridiculously articulate people gathered eager to take on the days topics and I noted that these youth would be running our country one day. The biggest thing that impressed me was that unlike generations ago where politicians were of a certain sex, class and background; usually male, white and Oxbridge educated, this gathering had youth from absolutely every possible background and it was refreshing!

The Principal doorkeeper of the House of Commons hosted and introduced us all and then the actual speaker of the HOC the Rt Hon John Bercow MP welcomed us and directed us on the running order of the day. Other adults present and supportive were Rt Hon Andrew Lansley MP and the Shadow Leader of the House, Angela Eagle MP.

The speaker said: “What a joy it is to preside over such a calm and orderly chamber for the 4th annual UKYP. I welcome you to this, our chamber, and hope your day is a success, look and remember the day you spoke and sat at the British House of Commons.”

“We meet in a free society to debate what others globally cannot. One day the torch will pass from my hand to yours. Nurture it and protect it and pass it down to those that come after you. Before speaking stand and indicate your desire to speak, pause, say your name and the region you represent before beginning.

Make your arguments succinctly; don’t interrupt your own speech as an MP this year did with his musical tie so please ensure your gadgets are all on silent. And thank you for being interested in your society - I always say ‘If you don't do politics, then you have it done to you’!”

So many youth stood out during the day including Shawntee Harris from Brent who was an eloquent speaker and a passionate character, full of personality.

LONDON360 reporter Eliot Goward had the young people queuing enthusiastically to speak to him on camera about how amazing and empowering their day had been and once again I mused: “young people, don’t let the media pigeonhole you as being unruly rioting layabouts- so many of you are world leaders!-the futures bright!’’

I was a bit miffed that the adult members of parliament hadn’t all been made to sit and watch all these debates so they could see what's important to young people and how articulate they can be.

Jasmine Dotiwala is a TV producer, director and broadcast journalist. Email her Follow her on Twitter: @jasminedotiwala

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