Four politics students from Edge Hill University have taken the leap into local politics with one first year student becoming an elected councillor for the first time.
The first, second and third-year students all stood for different parties, with one, Matthew Trafford, securing the only Labour seat in Lostock Hall, South Ribble alongside two Conservatives.
Matthew, who is studying History with Politics, said: “I decided I wanted to stand around 18 months ago but always knew it would be for Labour. They’re the party I’ve always been a member of, I’m a socialist and I’ve always supported the Trade Union movement.
“I wanted to stand because there are huge injustices in society which harm the most vulnerable people. Whether it be people on Universal Credit, working families struggling to pay their bills or the fact most of our public services are on the brink of collapse. So, I thought if I can do something to improve the quality of life for these people, and to try and be a voice for them, then there’d be no greater honour.”
He added: “Having been elected, beating the Conservative candidate by a mere 18 votes, it makes me feel extremely proud for all of the hard work that was put into the election campaign. We knocked on every door in my area at least 3 times, we responded to all issues that were brought to us and we produced a positive and radical manifesto. “
Third year Owen Lambert who stood for the Liberal Democrats for both Lancaster City Council and the Town Council only missed out on election by 23 votes.
He said: “I felt residents were becoming disillusioned with the two main parties in my area, the Tories and Labour, and felt it was my obligation to stand up for their values and offer an alternative. The Liberal Democrats champion community and especially in Morecambe where I live. I want to ensure funding goes to those who need it, the festivals are kept alive and that the simple things are taken care of first.”
He added: “This time round I didn’t get elected to either although it was very close. Only 23 votes in it on the Town Council. The campaign was very positive however, with door knockings and leafleting leading me to meet some incredible individuals, all with stories and all who wanted to see real change in their area. To go from a seat where it had been in the pocket of the local independent party since the Town Council’s inception to cutting it down to a mere handful of voters feels incredible. It really shows how residents want something new.”
Thomas de Freitas, a second-year law with politics student stood as a Conservative candidate for Birkdale in Southport.
A part-time researcher for the town’s MP Damian Moore, Thomas, said: “I decided to stand as Southport is an area I know well and where I spent a lot of time as a child. I work for the MP so I know the issues people are facing. I stood for the Conservative party because it’s a party which I most closely align with on economic matters and because the local team in Southport are great.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t elected. Last year the Conservatives came third in my ward and we came third this time too. I was happy with my campaign and was proud to have stood in my first election in such a great part of the town. Of course, national issues dominated the campaign (Brexit etc) but I tried to focus on the local issues Birkdale residents are facing.”
First year Nathan Ryding stood for UKIP in Wigan West, losing to a Labour candidate but beating his closest rival by more than 300 votes. He has also been chosen as UKIPs North West MEP candidate in the forthcoming European elections.
Paula Keaveney, Programme Leader for Politics, said: “It’s generally quite rare to have student candidates so to have four at once from one university is pretty remarkable.
“We encourage activism as being part of the practical side of politics and we always support students who want to get involved, helping them to volunteer with an MP, secure internships, run a campaign etc. It’s fantastic to see our students launching their political careers already with political views stemming across all of the major parties.”