Are these the future political leaders?

By Nomia Iqbal and Declan Harvey
Newsbeat election reporters

  • Published
Media caption,

Meet the seven youngest candidates in Britain

Think of a politician, and a very young person doesn't instantly come to mind.

But have a quick look around parts of Europe and that thought will slowly fade.

Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz is only 29 - he got the job two years ago.

Germany elected its youngest ever MP back in 2002.

Anna Luhrmann was 19, when she took her Bundestag (German parliament) seat.

Further afield in Australia, MP Wyatt Roy got elected when he was 20-years-old.

So what about back here in Britain - any young potential leaders to watch out for in the future?

Newsbeat got into a car, hit the road and travelled 873 miles across Britain to meet the youngest candidates running in this year's general election.

There's already a lot of buzz around Mhairi Black, a 20-year-old student from Glasgow.

She is going up against the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander in Paisley and Renfrewshire.

Mhairi only decided in January, this year, to stand for the Scottish National Party (SNP).

"The more doors you enter, and the more stories you hear, the more you start to see how many people are struggling."

"I want to change how unequal our society is and after the Scottish referendum we realised how we can change things."

She admits her age has raised a few eyebrows: "Some people say '20? That's unusual' but in the end, age is an irrelevance.

"They think you're a breath of fresh air and realise you do understand the issues ordinary people are facing."

Gone are the casual clothes. For the moment.

As Mhairi puts it: "This is the longest job interview of my life and you wouldn't turn up for an interview wearing jeans."

She says she is a self-confessed political geek. "My mates think what I'm doing is a bit mental! But also great!"

Taylor Muir, 19, says the referendum was also a 'game changer' for him.

"It was really fundamental to young people and the realisation of how your life could change.

"I'm a very normal teenager, I'm a student, I work in a call centre too, and I believe young people can make a difference if they're engaged."

He was selected for Rutherglen and Hamilton West last year but he got involved with the Conservative party when he was fifteen years old.

"People's reaction to my age can be a bit mixed. Some have a point of view that you should have had thirty years in a profession before you get into politics.

"I think young people deserve representation. No-one understands issues facing a student, for example, than an actual student."

Taylor says: "There are a lot of people in same background in the House of Commons (HoC). I don't think having one or two MPs who are young (inside the HoC) would be a bad thing."

Lewis Campbell agrees with changing the types of people you see in Parliament.

"The average age of an MP elected at the last general election (in 2010) was fifty and so I don't think they can accurately represent young people.

"Although I'm standing for everyone in Dunfermline and West Fife, I do think young people should be represented and I have a unique opportunity to do that."

He like others was inspired by the referendum but his father's influence helped too.

"My dad stood for the Lib Dems when I was younger so I've come from a reasonably political background and I have a lot of university friends who are into politics."

He will be nineteen by the time election day comes. He laughs at the 'nerdy' stereotypes associated with people getting into politics.

"Well, politics is your life. It is something that affects everybody. Politicians make decisions every day about things that matter to us all."

When Michael Burrows was selected to run in the seat of Inverclyde, he was seventeen and therefore not even old enough to vote.

He's studying at college at the moment and turned eighteen in March but says his age hasn't really been the difficult bit.

"As you can imagine, it's not been easy standing for UKIP. The image of the party has come under attack by pretty much everyone: the media and other parties.

"I thought I'd have to go out with body armour on! I've had some people shouting abuse but once I talk to them they realise I don't have a negative message."

Initially he had worked on the 'Better Together' campaign during the referendum but decided to join UKIP because he felt no other party represented his views.

"I'm still very young so I don't really know what the future plan is. I'm just taking each day as it comes."

Away from Scotland and 18-year-old Solomon Curtis is running in Wealden, East Sussex for Labour and is enjoying campaigning.

"My constituency has been conservative dominant for 200 years and I think people are excited somebody else is challenging that."

He's been interested in politics since he was twelve, but does he think young people wanting to be MPs is a geeky thing?

"I don't think it's a geeky at all to have an interest in life. I'm a pretty ordinary person, I like my sports, music and it just so happens I want to change the country.

"But I think most people have an interest in political issues whether they think they do or not."

Solomon's been balancing his political ambitions while studying at university but says he's determined to make a difference using his age.

"What's important is changing the country and making sure young people are voting and that we're not being disproportionally affected by policies."

Tom Thornhill also feels that politics is ultimately about making a change and wants more people his age to get involved,

"I saw lots of things that made me angry, a lot of inequality, and I wanted to fight for the change which is why I decided to run for the North Shropshire seat."

"Too often people born into a family of wealth have more of a chance of making it, and everyone should have same opportunities."

"Getting into politics is a great way to make that difference."

Like the other candidates, his age gets people talking.

"People have been very kind. Some maybe do glance at me and think 'oh he's young' but once I get up and say what I'm passionate about, they see I do care and want to fight for people's rights.

"But I'm not involved to just help young people, I do want to help everyone."

Our final seventh candidate is Mair Rowlands. She giggles when we tell her about our road trip to meet the youngest candidates.

"Oh I am actually 'old', the oldest out of all of them!"

She was 23-years-old when she became a county councillor and three years on, she is now running for the Vale of Clwyd seat.

"I get some comments that I don't have enough experience, but I do have it.

"Even so, being young means bringing in new ideas and a new perspective.

"Most of the response on doorsteps has been great. People are impressed by the fact that a young woman is standing."

Her interest in politics came about when she was a student and says it may seem like a geeky thing but it comes down to a simple thing for her.

"I just feel passionate about the future of Wales and want to take part in shaping it."

P.s If any of them do go on to become a future leader, you read it here first!

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