A second year University of York Politics student has been selected as the Labour parliamentary candidate for the constituency of Skipton and Ripon.
Claire Hazelgrove, 19, originally from Northamptonshire, said she was “very surprised” after beating a much older opponent to secure the candidacy.
Hazelgrove faces an uphill fight in her constituency, as Skipton and Ripon is one of the few Conservative strongholds in the whole of Yorkshire and Humberside. In the 2005 General Election the Conservatives took more than 50% of the vote. Hazelgrove is optimistic about her chances, saying, “It is a Tory stronghold but I think we can make definite headway. If we get out there and talk to people in the community, we can make definite progress. I’ll be doing as much as I can because I want to get out there and talk to people”.
Hazelgrove has worked with Sally Keeble, Labour MP for Northampton North for the past two years, both within her constituency and in her parliamentary offices.
It was this involvement in local politics, says Hazlegrove, which culminated in her name being added to a ‘long-list’ for candidacy selection, from which she was picked by the local Labour party to be one of their five shortlisted candidates. When asked if she felt voters would take a 19 year old candidate seriously, she said: “I think they’ll probably be surprised at first but hopefully see eventually that I can bring a fresh face and fresh ideas to Parliament.”
Hazelgrove’s University career remains uncertain and she is planning to meet with Head of Politics Department, Dr. Matt Matravers, about her options. Hazelgrove is currently the head of the Politics Society.
On October 19, Hazelgrove attended a local party hustings, in which she was questioned by Labour party members living in the area. After answering questions on a range of topics, including the possibility of Turkey’s inclusion in the EU to nuclear power, Hazelgrove was selected as candidate by a majority of party members.
Hazelgrove said she believed she was chosen for her “enthusiasm, awareness of key issues and the fresh face and fresh ideas that I could bring to local politics.”
She is aware of her student connotations, saying she can “appeal to younger, perhaps more apathetic voters. The student and young people’s vote is often neglected but I aiming to get as many younger people involved in this campaign as possible.”
Hazelgrove said she was unworried about the prospect of being such a young member of parliament. When asked if she felt that parliamentarians would respect a 19 year old she said: “I think they will because a lot of MPs are saying that we need more young people and more women in politics.”
In recent weeks, Nouse reported that Former YUSU President James Alexander has been selected Labour candidate for the constituency of York Outer.