Teenager to take on Tory Tim at election

A SCHOOLGIRL has been chosen to stand against local MP Tim Loughton in the next general election.

Seventeen-year-old Emily Benn – grand-daughter of Labour legend Tony Benn – has been selected as the prospective Parliamentary candidate for the East Worthing and Shoreham constituency by party members.

Miss Benn, also the niece of Labour environment minister Hilary Benn, said she was honoured to have been chosen to fight the next general election in East Worthing and Adur.

She added: "I am conscious of the fact that, at 17, I am the youngest person ever to be selected as a prospective Parliamentary candidate but there is no reason why history cannot be made in East Worthing and Shoreham."

Miss Benn, who lives in south London, is not currently old enough to vote, but will turn 18 on Thursday, October 4.

Election rules mean she will be 18 by the time an election could take place, even if one was announced today.

Miss Benn said her grandfather was pleased she was continuing the family interest in politics and the Labour party.

Speaking to the Herald from the Labour party conference, in Bournemouth, she said: "He is very proud of me. I think he has always known I have had an interest.

"I have been campaigning basically since I was born.

"I guess I have always been a Labour activist. I was born during the Labour party conference, in 1989. My birth was announced to the floor."

Miss Benn is currently studying for her A levels and applying for a university place, but said her future education plans could change if she was victorious at an election.

She added people should not be sceptical of a teenager running for parliament, and that things like education, regeneration and housing were important to young as well as older people, with policies discussed and passed today having a profound impact on her generation.

"These are issues that we all care about," said Miss Benn. "I hope I can show people that I really am passionate about them."

Mr Loughton has seen his majority increase at every general election since he was elected to parliament 10 years ago.

In 1997, his majority was 5,098, rising to 6,139, in 2001, and then to 8,183 at the last general election, in 2005.

He told the Herald: "I am excited that at last I am going to have some competition around here.

"I wish Emily Benn the best of luck and look forward to welcoming her to East Worthing and Shoreham, where I am sure she will have a friendly reception from my constituents."

Mr Loughton added he hoped Miss Benn came equipped with answers to burning questions in the area, particularly with regard to our threatened hospitals.

"I look forward to a fair and constructive election campaign, whenever it comes, but having fought David Blunkett in the Labour heartlands of Sheffield, I know what a daunting prospect it can be to go into the lion's den," he said.

"I look forward to a good fight which results in Labour retaining its second place."

Find out more about Emily Benn in the Thursday, September 27 edition of the Herald.

What do you think?

Would you vote for Emily Benn?

How do you think a teenager could cope in the halls of government?

Does a young person standing show teenagers aren't apathetic?

Have your say, let us know what you think by commenting below or email letters@worthingtoday.co.uk