News | Young politicians face ‘prejudices’, says Councillor, 22

Leeds City’s youngest councillor has called for more young people to get into politics despite the ‘barriers’ they face.

Alice Smart, who won a seat in this year’s local elections aged 21, rejected claims she is too young to enter politics, although admitted there “can definitely be an issue” with relating to older constituents.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, Smart explained: “When someone comes to your surgery, if they see someone who’s forty or fifty years younger than them, they probably do have some prejudices”.

However, she said: “Most of the barriers face the fault that I’m new to the job, rather than me being too young”.

BBC Breakfast presenter Liz Green described Smart’s election as ‘astonishing’ and said of young politicians: “It’s like policemen looking twelve”.

Smart graduated in History and Social Policy from the University in 2013 before serving as LUU Education Officer. She won a seat to represent 17,000 people in Armley in the local elections this May.

She went on: “I think it’s really important for young people to be involved in politics and to be represented. It’s important to see people from different ages just as it is to see people from different walks of life and different races and religions.”

The May election also saw the success of 24-year-old Leeds graduate Jonathan Pryor, who told Leeds Student he would ‘definitely’ encourage more young people to run for Council.

Smart added: “It would be great to see lots more women in politics and a lot more young people as well”.

Alice Smart secured 44% of votes in the election for Armley, beating five other candidates to represent the constituency.

She concluded: “I’ve not had any major issues yet. I’m enjoying it so far”.

Charlotte Mason

Photo: Leo Garbutt

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