18-year-old Eli Aldridge has been selected as a Labour candidate for the General Election on 8 June – a day after his A-Level exams start. The aspiring MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale explains how you too could get started on the road to Westminster
When did you first get involved in politics?
“In the aftermath of the 2015 election, my disappointment about the result spurred me to think about how I could make a difference. The Labour Party seemed the obvious choice for me.”
“Labour were trying to get young people involved and engaged in politics. They took us seriously, when some other parties would just dismiss you as children. I started doing the standard door-knocking, canvassing and leafleting. Then I took on more of an active role. I’m now the Youth Officer, and sit on several committees within the constituency, so when May called the election I put my application in.”
What do your mates make of it?
“They take the piss a bit – which is good! They’ve been overwhelmingly supportive. I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions. It’s important to help people form their own opinions – even if it isn’t to go vote for me!”
How can young people get more involved in this election?
“Get angry and have a moan! Join a political party. One voice on its own isn’t as effective as 2.4million, which is the number of 18-24 year-olds who are not on the electoral register. That’s the difference between a Labour government and a Conservative government. So find out who you want to support in this election and go and give them a hand. Let them know that young people are passionate about politics and have a right to be heard.”
How to follow in Eli’s footsteps (next time)
Find Out Who You Support
Read up about the various political parties, or take an online quiz about the issues that matter to you. “There are some really good websites out there which show you which party you might be interested in,” suggests Eli.
Join a party and start volunteering with your local group, handing out leaflets and taking on other responsibilities. “You’ll meet loads of like-minded people,” says Eli.
Put Yourself Forward
When the election is called you can apply for selection. You’ll probably be interviewed by a regional board and your local party, so prepare to win them over by telling them how involved you’ve been.
Launch Your Campaign
If you’ve charmed your way to selection as a party candidate, it’s time to start campaigning! If not, you could always put yourself forward as an independent candidate. You’ll need to put down a £500 deposit, which you’ll lose unless you get 5% of the total vote. No pressure.