We are frequently unkind to politicians and are prone to blame them for being ineffective rhetoric enthusiasts. But such dismissiveness isn’t at play among visitors, queuing to enter the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Perhaps it’s the scale and the beauty of the unique architectural heritage that creates the prevalent atmosphere of reverence, as I enter the House of Commons and meet Alison Mackenzie, ITV’s political correspondent.
“People like to criticise the government but it is this institution that drafts and implements legislation to promote justice, provide infrastructure, education and healthcare and regulates the economy to improve our standard of living”, says Alison.
Inside, the interior is even more awe-inspiring from the sombre 900-year-old Westminster Hall, where Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama addressed the Parliament in recent years, to the majestic Lords and Prince’s Chambers, stunning wall paintings and sculptures. Alison admits that she rarely skips the beat or notices the surrounding grandeur as she goes about her daily business, reporting from Westminster.
“I feel privileged to have access to the most powerful men and women in the country”, says Alison, who interviewed the PM on numerous occasions and won ITV’s Reporter of the Year award in 2005.
Alison knew she wanted to be a TV reporter from the age of 14. She was trained in journalism by the BBC, then spent some time working as a newsreader before moving into politics. She loves her job for its variety and pace and the remarkable blend of personal interactions and decisions, affecting our society as a whole. Despite all that, Alison does not take herself too seriously and tells me in confidence about her guilty pleasures of occasional show biz reporting and watching X Factor.
Showing me around the Houses of Parliament and the broadcasters’ headquarters in Westminster, Alison was in her element, sharing genuine pride in her work, which was captivating. Professional fulfilment is definitely worth striving for.