25 March 2022

From UEA Politics to Parliament

Will Opposs ParliamentWill Opposs works as a Hansard reporter in the House of Commons as part of a team producing the Official Report of proceedings. Will studied within the School of Politics, Philosophy, Languages and Communication Studies at UEA, graduating in 2006. He sat down with us and told us all about working in parliament and studying at UEA.

One great thing about being a Hansard reporter is that you learn a bit about almost everything, so you feel really in the loop, and you’re in the box seat for events that others will never see. 

Tell us about your working day.

Each day, I head into the Commons Chamber to witness who is speaking, what they say, how they say it and how all that is absorbed by the House as a whole. Once my time is up, I head to my desk to report what happened, taking everything into account and editing for sense, grammar and redundant language. When my deadline comes, I send off my report and head back to the Chamber to do it all again.

Why did you choose to study politics at the UEA?

On first visiting the campus, I was struck by the oppressive but brilliant brutal buildings, the floating walkways, the sculptures, and the lake. I instantly liked the course’s tutor who emphasised the degree’s flexibility and how I could choose modules that interested me most.

How was life on campus?

I spent so much time on the UEA campus, day and night, because it has it all. During the day, the learning facilities are ideal, and a stroll round the lake makes for a great way to reflect. On the evening, you couldn’t have a better time than by heading to the pub or the LCR. 

Did you have any career goals?

Not really. I’d a vague idea about doing something in the civil service, starting as a small cog in a big machine that made a proper difference. I was happy to let things pan out. 

What did you do in your first job?

I got a temporary job processing magazine subscriptions as a stopgap before heading to France to work and build on my language learning from my degree.  

So, how did you end up in Parliament?

After France, I returned to the subscriptions job and then progressed to work on a financial publication, where I usefully learnt about writing in a house style. That must have helped when I applied for the Hansard job and was invited to a test. As I sat waiting in Central Lobby, I looked around and thought the experience was already worth the application, but—even better—I got the job. Years later, I’m still enjoying it and can’t think of working anywhere else.

Give a memorable or funny moment from your time at work.

One great thing about being a Hansard reporter is that you learn a bit about almost everything, so you feel really in the loop, and you’re in the box seat for events that others will never see. You also get a much more rounded view of what MPs are like  and how things get done beyond speeches, tweets and the like. I vividly remember driving to Parliament during the first lockdown in April 2020 –I’d only ever taken the train–and, as I ascended from the underground car park, finding not the usual thousands of staff, visitors and MPs but almost nobody. It was such an odd feeling.