Election campaign

Labour picks a teenager to fight (ultra-safe Tory) seat

There may be just four months to go until the election, but candidates are still being selected for seats up and down the country.

Over the new year it emerged that Labour has picked someone rather unusual to contest the Tory seat of Wealden. Solomon Curtis is a politics student at the University of Sussex and a former member of the Youth Parliament. Nothing unusual about that, to be fair. But he is also 18 years old. And if he wins, he would become the youngest MP in the country.

That would certainly be a landmark achievement, and one that might encourage other young people to seek election to parliament. Except it won’t happen. Curtis is standing in one of the safest Tory constituencies in East Sussex. The current MP Charles Hendry won a majority of 17,179 in 2010. Labour needs a swing of 23.5% for victory. It’s true that Hendry is stepping down at the election, after 14 years representing Wealden. But his successor Nusrat Ghani will have no problems holding the seat. Labour has never managed to come higher than third in Wealden since the consistency was created in 1983.

Nevertheless, Curtis is loyally upbeat his prospects. The PA has reported him saying he is “very excited about being selected” and he’s assured the voters of Wealden he will do his “very best”. His university course of British Political History has “been really influential in shaping my campaign… With the 2015 election 70 years on from the Attlee government of 1945, which led to the creation of the NHS, I am keener than ever to recapture the mood of optimism, hope and aspiration.” A shame he stands no chance of capturing the seat.

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