Benn: People don’t care for young people’s views


At 25, Emily Benn is one of the youngest candidates for Parliament. Pic: Anna Mellin

She is one of the youngest candidates to contest for a seat in Westminster, but 25-year-old Emily Benn is ready to prove wrong, everyone who claims she is too young.

Young people’s voices aren’t heard enough, and politics should not be the exclusive domain of middle-aged folks, she argues.

“A lot of people of all ages and young people have brilliant ideas and to waste that potential seems completely crazy,” she told Eastlondonlines.

The Labour candidate, who is the granddaughter of the late Labour figure Tony Benn, is standing in Croydon South.

She is challenging the status quo in a constituency that has had a Conservative MP since the 1970s.

Benn is eager to promote traditional labour interests such as raising the minimum wage and investing more in housing and healthcare.

She calls on detractors to give young people a chance.

“A lot of people look down on young people  and this is not just about politics. Too many people don’t think that young people’s views are worthwhile. It’s a great shame,” said Benn.

While she thinks it is unfair to label all young people as apolitical, she agrees there is a bridge to cross.

“It is all about translating a passion about issues into a political process, seeing a connection between the issue and the political process.

“If you just believe the media, then politics is just this awful thing that doesn’t change anything when actually it could not be further from the truth,” she said.

This is not the first time Benn has run for Parliament. In the last general election, she was an unsuccessful candidate for the West Sussex constituency of East Worthing and Shoreham.

“I learned what really changes people’s mind is personal contact. Every person has his or her own life story and hopes and aspiration about what they want from the government,” she said.

In 2013, she got elected as a council member for Croydon. The following year, she was re-elected with a majority of 1,777 votes.

If Benn is successful in Croydon South, she will follow four previous generations into Parliament. Being part of a Labour dynasty is an advantage, but it is also something that Benn is none too keen to talk about.

Besides her grandfather, her great grandfather William Wedgwood Benn; great-great-grandfathers John Williams Benn and Daniel Holmes; and her uncle Hilary Benn have all served as MPs.

“When I was growing up I wanted to be a violinist, so how I ended up in banking and a local councillor, I don’t know. My brother was a cellist so it was a musical household rather than a political one,” she said of her family.

Instead, she prefers to talk about how she believes politics should be done: “in a new way”.

“We have to devolve power to the people. I cannot say that the Government can do it all by themselves. That’s rubbish right? It has to be a partnership with people,” she said.

To do this, she would like to redistribute power into people’s everyday lives.

“We should give local communities more power and I am not just saying local councils, I am talking about the actual local communities,” Benn said.

She is urging everyone to vote as she is concerned that society is becoming one where, ” people don’t care and lose their trust in the system.”

“It worries me”, Benn said.

Croydon residents with queries about their registration to vote can call a dedicated advice line, which will be open for the full duration of polling for the general election on May 7. The Croydon Council’s contact centre will be manning the phones from 7am to 10pm. The number is 020 8726 6300. For more information about voting visit

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