A KCL Political Economy student is standing for Parliament aged 19
‘I see my age as an asset, not a burden’
Rory Daniels, first year KCL Political Economy student, is running for member of parliament. He joined the Lib Dems after the 2015 GE, and has done tons within the party since then (particularly since moving to London for uni last Sept). Then after this snap GE was called, Rory took the opportunity to be a young candidate to represent the young people of Llanelli (just outside Swansea where he’s lived most of his life), making him one of the youngest candidates to represent the Welsh Lib Dems. But what makes him such a likeable candidate? “I just want to get down with the young people ya know”.
What made you want to choose a career in politics?
Good question. I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2015, the day after that disastrous general election. This was despite me never taking any interest in politics, and me being brought up in a family that never discussed politics, or even voted. I saw the backlash that the party received after going into coalition in 2010, and thought ‘this isn’t right’. I discovered the Lib Dems achieved some very good things in the 5 years of coalition, and drastically improved peoples’ lives as a result. For example, they introduced same-sex marriage, and invested heavily in green energy. I decided there and then that I would enter politics, and vowed see the day where more Lib Dem policies are being enacted in government.
What does your week typically look like in terms of uni/ campaigning?
Busy. At the moment, I’m spending two or three days in London (either doing or revising for exams), followed by four or five days in Wales (purely campaigning), and repeating this cycle basically up until the election. So, in London a typical day would involve revising for my exams , making calls and sending emails about campaign ads/ stake board locations/ arranging interviews/ leaflet contents, and then in Wales I’ll be walking around markets/ beaches/ the town centre talking to local people/ attending hustings (a panel-based Q&A session with local people)/ doing interviews/ recording campaign ads… It’s extremely tiring. I can’t help but wonder how any student manages to effectively run a political campaign during their uni exams.
When I do get a brief rest, I continue watching Game of Thrones and the US Office. I often think that the unsullied would manage the student/ political candidate split quite well. I’ve never seen a stressed unsullied warrior.
Do you find it hard to balance your university work with the campaigning?
As I said, it’s extremely difficult, but until the system changes (if it ever does), that’s what students will have to go through if they want a voice in parliament. It’s something I can’t see this government addressing any time soon. Not putting elections and referendums around exam time is a start.
Do you know many other people who share your interests and concerns within King’s and its societies?
It’s hard not to find somebody at King’s who shares at least one of my concerns regarding politics today. In the UN World Food Programme Society, all our members see first-hand the food poverty situation in London, that has worsened astronomically the past few years. As Vice President of the society, I want to see us reach out to more local charities next year, such as The Felix Project, a London-wide food waste charity, so this problem doesn’t get even worse. I think we’re quite spoiled in London regarding things for young people to do in their spare time. However, in my constituency, Llanelli, the situation is much worse. Young people lack affordable recreational facilities, and for years they’ve seen their green spaces sold off to developers. I’m running for parliament because this has gone on for far too long, and it’s about time it changed.
Do you feel intimidated in any way because of your age?
Quite a few people have asked me this. No, not at all. People on the doorstep couldn’t be more supportive, saying this country is crying out for some young, fresh faces in politics. I see my age as an asset, not a burden. I’m firm in my belief that we need a democracy that speaks for all, and no amount of negative comments will stop me fighting for that.
Do you think young people are often overlooked in politics today?
Yes, definitely. And I’d say there are two main reasons why we’re overlooked. The first is that parliament simply doesn’t contain many young people, so obviously that means less young voices to take part in the law-making process. The average age of an MP in parliament today is 52 – that tells you all you need to know. Secondly, young people just don’t turn out to vote. Yes, this is probably largely because they don’t feel represented, but until they do vote in numbers we need to find other ways of making their voice heard. I hope that by running for parliament, I can boost the voice of people my age. 72% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted to remain in the European Union. Where’s their voice in parliament?