Youngest ever council candidate

Jamie McMahon is no ordinary council candidate - he's the first teenager to stand for election in Ipswich since electoral law was changed last year to reduce the minimum age for council candidates from 21.

“SORRY, I can't talk for long. The headmaster wants to see me!”

That's not an opening comment you will ever have heard before when interviewing a potential council candidate.

But Jamie McMahon is no ordinary council candidate - he's the first teenager to stand for election in Ipswich since the law was changed last year.

A change in electoral law, reducing the minimum age requirement for council candidates from 21, has made it possible for him to stand and he is believed to be one of the youngest to take advantage of the new regulations.

Jamie, a boarder at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook, has been selected to stand for Labour in Holywells ward, regarded as one of the safest Conservative seats in the borough.

Jamie's home is in Dawnbrook Road in Ipswich and he is studying politics, business, and geography at school.

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He said: “I'm very interested in politics and in building a more fair society, so I felt naturally drawn to the Labour Party.

“I have been doing quite a bit of work for the party for some time and when I was given the chance to stand for the council, I thought I'd give it a go.”

He will be standing against council leader Liz Harsant in a seat where all three borough councillors are Conservatives.

He said: “It is quite a challenge, but I'm really looking forward to it.”

Many of his colleagues at the independent school don't share his politics.

“Many follow their family's inclination - but they are prepared to listen to what I have to say and respect my views,” he said.

Jamie is currently studying for A levels and after that hopes to go on to study politics at Loughborough University.

John Cook, Labour's agent in Ipswich, said: “Some people may feel that 18 is young to be standing for political office, but meeting with Jamie will quickly dispel any concerns. He has a maturity that belies his age.

“Currently, there are only a handful of councillors in Ipswich, under 40 years old. When I go to schools and tell them that, at 42, I am one of the youngest councillors in Ipswich they are really surprised.”

The Royal Hospital School has close links with Ipswich through its community action programme which encourages pupils to take responsibility and get involved through activities such as sailing for the disabled, the school's own St John's Ambulance Brigade section, an officially recognised auxiliary coastguard unit, helping in local primary and special needs schools, and visiting residential homes for the elderly.