Posted by : Jonny Brighton Monday, 9 December 2013
|A few years too soon. - Photo from: www.dailymail.co.uk|
You may have heard that Labour recently announced their representative in Bath as an 18 year old first year student at the University of Westminster, named Ollie Middleton; a move I believe to be both tragic and hypocritical.
(Once again I'm writing from neither side of the political spectrum here, just a logical basis)
First of all I have nothing against Mr Middleton, I'm sure he's a great guy and incredibly intelligent (he has to be in order to have been selected as representative for the Labour party at such a young age). I do not doubt that he is wholly capable of doing an MPs job; as an 18 year old myself I spend most of my life wishing I could take over from MPs and get the job done properly. However, let's bring everyone back down to Earth here - he's 18. He has no life experience beyond school and uni. He's not another beam of light, like Russell Brand who I mentioned in an earlier article (here), as he simply hasn't experienced any of the real world. The most extensive tax on his life is VAT (or Cameron's 'student tax', of course). He's just another well-spoken guy from a white, middle-class area, with absolutely no idea about the world around him. According to Diana Page, who oversaw the selection process:
"Ollie gave a speech that was just so professional and came across as way beyond his years"
I'm sure he did, but plenty of people are amazing at giving speeches 'way beyond their years', my German oral exam for my AS levels, for example, is prime evidence of this fact (considering I have little/no knowledge of the German language, but got great marks for presentation and speaking). The fact that he can give a coherent, passionate speech is not that impressive, and not worthy of making him into an MP; otherwise just take anyone half decent at debating and put them in a position of power. Experience, first-hand knowledge and empathy are three key traits that this country calls for in politicians (unfortunately most politicians lack them), and Ollie just hasn't done enough in his life to have them.
Furthermore, it's rather hypocritical of Labour to be giving us another career politician. Prior to George Osborne becoming Chancellor, Labour constantly named him a career politician, suggesting that he had no experience outside of politics and, more importantly, none in business at all. Yet they're perfectly happy to already have a 24-year-old MP currently in Parliament; the 'baby of the house' Pamela Nash, and are now presenting the electorate with an 18 year old, because he can give a good speech? I'm all for the voice of the youth and suchlike, considering I'm a member of the UK Youth Parliament, but this is taking it to an extreme. I would love to see my views wholly represented in government, but I'd love to see them represented by someone who has actual life experience, or a professional in some area other than politics. If he was a young man who'd come through a drug-abuse phase, or actually lived or experienced poverty, or simply had worked hard and grafted his way in a profession, maybe he would be a fair candidate, but to me he's just another student who's in way too deep.
After actually doing something with his life, the fact that Labour has put him in such a position (despite it being a pretty safe seat for the Lib Dems) shows that he has great potential, but he just needs the experience or life skills to back himself up in Parliament. I may be completely wrong about him, and he might actually be perfect for a position as an MP, but even if he ever got into government at this age his points would seem wholly invalid to the majority of his peers simply because of his age, however unfair that may be, and the Conservatives would no doubt attack him and Labour for creating another career politician - as a comment on the Daily Mail article put it: 'A lamb to the slaughter?'.