Student appeals for help in general election

Second year Politics student Claire Hazelgrove has asked students at the University of York to aid her in her campaign as Labour candidate for Skipton and Ripon.

Hazelgrove said: “It would be great to get as many people from York as possible helping out on my campaign. I’d love to see more young people out on the campaign trail and hopefully encourage more people to stand as well. It’s important in terms of making sure issues that affect students get addressed, and hopefully we can change the face of politics.”

Hazelgrove strongly objects to the fact that although 30% of the UK’s population is under 30 years old, only two active members of parliament are, and she intends to turn this around. For Hazelgrove, “you do have to be a woman and a young person to be truly representative of their opinions”, and she has called for active participation from her peers. At the moment “there is no-one to fight our corner,” she believes.

Hazelgrove is wasting no time trying to change this imbalance. In her own constituency of Skipton and Ripon there is currently a house pricing crisis causing difficulties for first time buyers. She explains that “there is a massive age gap in the housing market of 20 to 40 year olds who cannot get on the housing ladder” and she feels she is “the right person to deal with this situation, not some old politician who has been in the business longer than I have been alive”.

During a recent interview on the BBC Sunday Politics Show Hazelgrove felt under-appreciated as a real Labour candidate, saying the interviewer “continually asked me about age and experience”.

Hazelgrove is further pursuing her cause on a national level by establishing a relationship with Emily Benn, who beat her to the title of youngest ever parliamentary candidate. At just 18, Benn is taking A-levels and running for Labour in East Worthing and Shoreham. Together they are planning to promote young Labour, to both “raise awareness” and “strengthen” their individual campaigns.

Hazelgrove attests to the idea that fighting for her beliefs is not always an easy task. She said: “You do have to think about what you say, you realise that you can’t just say your opinions as you may have done. You have to go with the party”, and, like all those pursuing a political career, her priorities are constantly under scrutiny from the media and her constituents. But this does not lessen her passion about the opportunity of her position: “It gives me the chance to stand up for people, and that is what I want to do.”

Following a meeting with the Head of the Politics Department, Dr. Matravers, Hazelgrove has permission to take half a year out in order to fight the general election.

Hazelgrove says: “If anyone wants to get involved in my campaign, any help would be much appreciated.” Hazelgrove can be reached by email at


  1. …and that was a Party Political Broadcast on behalf of the Skipton & Ripon Constituency Labour Party.


  2. Isn’t this basically a pro labour article? You don’t have the Incumbent MP asking students to help him campaign? It’s not like she has a hope in hell winning amyway.


  3. Disgraceful.

    I was going to commend this paper on a fab website…unitl i saw this.


  4. 7 Dec ’07 at 2:57 pm

    Claire Jones

    To be fair, she’ll need all the help she can get to avoid coming third to the lib dems. It is ridiculous though, this article is basically an advert for Skipton and Ripon labour party, the tory and lib dem candidates should be mentioned too in the interests of journalistic fairness.


  5. Iain, Lindley and Jon,

    You put forward fair criticisms, and thanks for arguing in a constructive manner.

    However, I would argue that the piece is written chiefly from a student/young person’s point of view, and concentrates more on the life of Claire Hazelgrove and her aim of seeing a higher representation of young people in Parliament. It is not, in my opinion, a Labour manifesto. If anything, we highlighted the uneasy contrast between personal and party opinion.

    We did not choose to publish the article simply because the subject is a Labour candidate; this can be seen as a personal manifesto, but then, this is a student newspaper, which prides itself in supporting student activities.

    We strive to keep objectivity, and rest assured that if Hazelgrove (or any other student in the University of York) was running for any other party, we would have given him or her the same press coverage.

    Thanks again for commenting

    Alberto Furlan
    Politics Editor


  6. Alberto, many thanks for your response. To be honest, I simply don’t see how this is news. You have already covered her selection, which is fair enough, but the only new thing is that she is asking for people to help her campaign. Don’t all candidates do that?

    Personally I think it is a worrying precedent that the Politics department have agreed to allow Miss Hazelgrove a six-month jolly in North Yorkshire, when Skipton & Ripon CLP will be running a skeleton campaign in a constituency where they have no Councillors and not a prayer of success. The idea that she cannot do this and continue her studies at the same time is bonkers, and a complete insult to all the hard-working students who have to work long hours on top of their studying in order to pay their way through three years of University.


  7. Iain,

    Leave it out mate… We left years ago… These are not our battles anymore…

    Councillor James Alexander
    Labour Candidate for York Outer


  8. Iain,

    the article was moved from the News section to the Politics section precisely because it was a follow-up to a news item, a slightly more in-depth look at what she has been doing since she became a candidate than a news story in and of itself.

    This, coupled with her personal appeal for help, which we though we should support, and the politics department’s decision to allow her a six month break, made enough material for a rather small piece on the paper.

    You commenting on the decision setting an uncomfortable precedent is exactly what we were going for, (if you didn’t read the print version, we asked people to comment on all our articles), and hopefully this debate will attract more comments on whether the decision was right or wrong, and what kind of precedent it sets. Surely, the debate itself justifies the article being published?

    Alberto Furlan
    Politics Editor