Interview with Craig Jones (Young Parish Councillor)

It is really interesting to hear from people from all different political positions. I was intrigued to hear what Craig Jones, 26, had to say about being a parish councillor.

“Bit about me; I am secretary and former equality and diversity officer for Burton & Uttoxeter CLP, I was also general election agent to our candidate this year and stood for borough council as well as being a parish councillor and vice chair for Horninglow & Eton Parish Council in Burton on Trent, East Staffordshire.”

  • How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?

“Politics is everywhere. Every decision that’s made by politicians has an impact on the lives of people. The withdrawal of EMA (educational maintenance allowance) and the increase in Tuition fees are great examples, demographically older people vote Conservative and the young get hit with damaging policies. I wouldn’t have had a choice of which FE college to go to without EMA as I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

We have an active and vibrant youth and student movement in the Labour Party which reflects in our policy but even that is still a tiny proportion of young voters and those who will be first time voters in 2020. We need to reach out beyond our party to engage as many people as we can in our democracy. For me citizenship education and votes at 16 would be great drivers for this, we saw huge turnout from young people during the Scottish referendum. I think it’s about time we had votes at 16 and was glad to see it in our manifesto. “

  • Why did you decide to become a councillor?

“A friend of mine who is also a sitting parish councillor suggested I joined as we needed new members and could be co-opted on. I went to observe a meeting and decided to throw my hat into the ring. I was accepted on and got to work!”

  • What does your role as a parish councillor involve?

“Parish Councils have their ears to the ground and their fingers on the pulse within their local community. We have close links with our borough and county colleagues to receive updates and give our input about goings on in the patch from town and county halls, we have to be consulted on planning and can put in objections if the application is unsuitable, we have drawn up a neighbourhood plan to help shape planning policy in our area. Most rewarding part of the job is helping provide grants to local causes and community groups to help them get off the ground or provide equipment. A particular highlight was attending a swimming gala and handing participation medals out to some of the kids competing.”

  • Why are you backing Andy Burnham and Stella Creasy for Labour leader and deputy leader?

“I’m proud to be backing Andy Burnham, the MP from my home constituency, Leigh, as leader of the Labour Party because I believe he has the passion and the vision to transform Labour into a party that will win again in 2020. Andy has continued to impress and move me with his passion for our NHS and his vision for that. His handling of the crowds at Anfield crying out for justice for the 96 and taking that to the cabinet to secure the latest enquiry into the Hilsborough tragedy. I’m proud to put my support behind Andy and will be working to make sure he is declared the leader of the Labour Party in September.

I’m supporting Stella for Deputy for similar reasons. She first came to my attention during her payday lender campaign and it struck me that a new intake MP managed to not only change her parties policy but the policy of the opposition party government. It’s that sort of campaigning spirit and experience we need at the top of the party. Somebody who just “gets” forming and leading campaigns and somebody who can get their argument across in their own way and that somebody is Stella Creasy.”

  • Would you ever consider running for MP in the future?

“I’m open to the idea of running to stand as an MP at some point in the future. Couldn’t say when though!”

  • How can young people become an MP?

“Standing as an MP is an enormous commitment in both money and time and can be hard work, especially for those with a family and/or full time work outside of politics. I think we should be talking about ways the party can support people from less experienced and advantaged backgrounds to run for parliament and become MPs. It’s not something that even entered my mind as possible for “normal” people until I joined Labour.”

Craig Jones