A South Tyneside teenager will be Britain’s youngest Labour council candidate at May’s local elections.
Adam Ellison only turned 19 in November last year, so if he wins the Hebburn North seat on Thursday, May 7, he will also become the youngest elected representative in the borough’s history.
That would beat the previous record by two years.
Both the late David Potts, a Conservative councillor for Cleadon and East Boldon, and current council leader Iain Malcolm, Labour for Horsley Hill, were 21 when they were first elected, in 2004 and 1988 respectively.
And Mr Ellison, a former Hebburn Comprehensive School pupil now studying history and politics at Sunderland University, has ambitions to eventually join South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, who was 24 when she was elected to the council, as an MP at Westminster.
However, that’s not an ambition that should cause imminent alarm to the current incumbent of the Jarrow Parliamentary seat, Labour’s Stephen Hepburn.
Mr Ellison is planning to carve out a career as a solicitor before seeking a place in the House of Commons.
The Hebburn teenager says he was fascinated by the political process from a young age.
At 15, he became a young member of Parliament, a British Youth Council initiative to give young people a greater voice in politics nationally, and took part in debates in London’s Westminster overseen by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.
Now youth officer with Jarrow Constituency Labour Party, Mr Ellison has been adopted as its candidate for Labour North.
He said: “I am very, very proud to have been selected.
“It is such an honour to stand in the ward in which I live. I want to get involved at the grass-roots level and make the people in the ward my top priority.”
Mr Ellison urged more young people to get involved in politics and is happy if he is seen as a role model. He added: “People may see me initially and wonder ‘is he too young?’, but I think when they realise my determination, they then see beyond my youth.
“It’s about getting away from the stereotype of the white, middle-aged man in public service.
“The young can offer a different viewpoint, and that has to be positive. I would like a career in politics, and, ideally, I would look for a position in Parliament, preferably as representative for the Jarrow constituency, and then go on to reach a government level, so I can shape legislation. That would be a tremendous honour.”
If Mr Hepburn is feeling the pressure posed by the emergence of a younger rival, he isn’t showing it.
He said: “I’m really proud of Adam. He’s a tremendous asset to the Labour Party and is as keen as mustard.”
The only other Hebburn North candidate to declare so far is the Green Party’s Matthew Giles.