YOUNG VOICES

Eli Aldridge Is The 18-Year-Old Labour Schoolboy Who Wants To Become The Youngest MP In 350 Years

He starts his A Level exams the day before the vote.

31/05/2017 16:17 BST | Updated 01/06/2017 13:05 BST

An 18-year-old schoolboy is attempting to topple Tim Farron in the General Election to become the UK’s youngest MP for 350 years. 

Born on Christmas day 1998, Labour Party candidate Eli Aldridge is thought to be the election’s youngest parliamentary hopeful, with his A Level exams starting one day before the polls open. 

But despite being just six when rival candidate Farron won the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat, the sixth form student believes he’s in with a real shot of taking the Cumbrian constituency from the Lib Dem leader.

“I’m not just some jumped up kid who wants to improve his CV,” Aldridge told HuffPost UK. “I’m in this to win this.” 

Westmorland Gazette
Eli Aldridge could become the youngest MP for 350 years if he's elected on June 8

In fact, the teen believes his tender age is an advantage when compared to his middle-aged rivals. 

“I know what the world is like now,” he said. “If you went into politics in the 1970s or 1980s, it would be very easy for you to never have a look at what the world is moving on from. 

“There are exceptions to that, but the majority are still a little bit stuck in the 80s and think their generation knows best.” 

Westmorland and Lonsdale “born and raised”, the schoolboy first got involved in politics running sessions to help young people register to vote. 

But it was Labour’s “devastating” 2015 election loss that first led Aldridge to get involved with the party. 

“I was really gutted that Labour didn’t win,” he said. “So I vowed I would do all I could to prevent that happening again.” 

“The party has the interests of young people at its heart and they welcomed me in.” 

Thomas Owen
The Labour candidate wants to become the voice of young people in Westminster

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of Mhairi Black and Charles Kennedy to become the “baby of the House”, the schoolboy wants to become the voice of young people in Westminster. 

If he is successfully elected, Aldridge would be the youngest MP since a 13-year-old was voted into Parliament in 1667. 

“Yeah, my A Level exams start the day before the election,” he admitted. 

“But Tim Farron is balancing running in Westmorland and Lonsdale with his national leadership role and James Airey the Conservative candidate is balancing his campaign with farming.

“So to point out that I’m still a student and I’m still studying is a false, because all the other candidates are doing their own things as well. 

“In the last seven years, young people have been disproportionately affected by harsh cuts,” the teen said. 

“We have had our tripling of tuition fees, we have had the scrapping of EMA, we have had housing benefits for 18-21s cut completely and we have had maintenance grants turned into maintenance loans. 

“But there’s no-one in Parliament that has had that experience, because they’re older.”

Eli Aldridge
He wants the voting age to be lowered to 16 

Backing Corbyn’s pledge to abolish tuition fees, Aldridge is also calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16, having missed out on having his say in the EU Referendum by just six months. 

“Some of the brightest and most engaged people I know are 16 and 17 years old and I think it’s such a shame those people aren’t afforded the opportunity to vote. 

“But I think we need to go further than that,” he added. “I think we need to allow for mandatory political education in secondary schools so that when children turn 16, they are able to have a clear understanding of how our political systems work so they can make and informed decision and not feel pressure.

“Because right now, the voter turnout for young people is awful.” 

In 2015, just 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the General Election, compared to 75% of over-65s. 

“It’s so important we get more young people involved in politics,” Aldridge added.