Ipswich/Kesgrave: We’re (really) new Labour as teenagers stand for the county

Matthew Percy and Lewis Smith outside Broke Hall School.

Matthew Percy and Lewis Smith outside Broke Hall School. - Credit: Archant

IT’S the Holy Grail for politicians – trying to win the youth vote. But on the north east edge of Ipswich, Labour’s youth policy is paying dividends with two teenagers standing for election to the county council in May.

Matthew Percy, 19, is one of two party candidates in the Kesgrave/Rushmere division while Lewis Smith, 18, is hoping to win Bixley on the edge of the borough.

Both recognise that they have an uphill battle – Bixley is the safest Conservative seat in Ipswich, it has never gone to another party on its existing boundaries, while Kesgrave and Rushmere have never been a particularly fertile area for Labour either.

But the two young would-be councillors are tackling the challenge with enthusiasm, and are hoping their tender age will attract younger voters to take part in the election.

Former Kesgrave High School student Matthew is working as an intern in the House of Commons for Labour MP and shadow culture spokesman Dan Jarvis.

Politics is a major part of his life – and he hopes to turn it into a career.

He said: “Westminster is a very exciting place to work and I’m hoping to one day become an MP – and would love that to be in Suffolk.

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“But this campaign is very important.

“I’m really enjoying meeting people in the area, even if it is very cold!”

Both he and Lewis said their youth was a factor in the election.

Matthew said: “Most people seem happy to see a young candidate, they’re happy to talk and listen and think a younger voice would bring something fresh to the council.”

Lewis is studying for A-levels at Copleston – he’s studying maths, history, and politics and hopes to go on to study political science at Essex University.

He said: “I was very involved in Jane Basham’s campaign to be police and crime commissioner, and wanted to carry on after that.

“I’m very keen on this and hope to carry on with politics at university and beyond – I think it’s very important for young people to take a role in political life.”

n All 75 seats at the county council are up for election on May 2.

Most divisions will be electing a single councillor – although there are several, including Kesgrave and Rushmere, that will be electing two.

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