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Young People

Unpaid Internships in Politics

The Issue: Unpaid Interns in Politics

The Facts: Hundreds of young people across the UK participate in political internships. Interns provide an invaluable service in many MPs office (both parliamentary and constituency) and are usually not paid for their services. Is this a fair system?

The arguments for:  Politics is extremely competitive and participating in an unpaid internship shows your commitment to the cause and sets you apart from the rest of the crowd. It also looks fantastic on your CV and can help you find a permanent job.

It is not unethical for an MP to not pay their intern. Interns are usually University graduates who have not acquired the relevant skills to work in politics. Internships allow the individual to gain work experience and have training, whilst the MP gets a lesser qualified member of staff.

Many MPs agree that unpaid internships are unfair and are grateful for the contribution that Interns make to their offices. But unfortunately an MP's office allowance is not sufficient to provide a wage for interns.

The arguments against: Graduates are usually in a dire financial situation due to their student loan, participating in an unpaid internship adds to their already spiralling debt.

Unpaid internships are only possible if an individual is in a good financial situation and can afford to work unpaid for several months. This means that those who maybe extremely intelligent and talented, but who do not have the money, cannot be involved with politics, this is hardly democratic.

It is a common stereotype that politics is dominated by 'toffs', the upper class and the rich. Unpaid internships do not encourage a wide range of people to get involved with politics.

The latest expenses scandal has inflated the issue of interns. How can you justify claming expenses for a moat and not pay a member of your staff?

The website internsanonymous was set up for individuals to share their experiences of various internships. Some of the accounts state that they were treated badly and the internship was little more than slave labour.

Have your say: Should MP's pay their interns? Is it currently a fair system? Have you ever been an intern? Please share your views and opinions.

If you are interested in gaining work experience in politics, why not check out the popular website w4mp.org?

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