Total Politics speaks to 18-year-old Luke Wilkins who is running as an independent candidate for Erewash, Derbyshire. He found fame recently when he saved up his £4.65 an hour wage from his job at McDonald's to raise the £500 deposit needed to stand.
Why did you decide to run?
Because I’m on many different committees to lobby MPs. And I’m now at the age where I’m old enough to stand myself. I hope that I’m a fresh face to politics. Young people need a spokesperson, a role model.
Why didn’t you join one of the big parties? Why stand as an independent?
I want to stand as an independent because I’m not tied down by any big political party. I’m able to stand for Joe Average.
What are your policies?
I want to start a campaign called ‘Love Erewash’ where I can bring the heart back to the town. There are a lot of things I want to do like encouraging local business, sorting out housing development and employment’s also a really big issue in the area.
What advantages do you have as a young person?
When I first started I didn’t really want to make my age an issue and I still don’t really want to. I’m hoping people can look at my leaflet and see past my age. But I can speak for and to young people, and I know what young people want.
What’s the reaction from the public been like?
People are really interested. They’re looking past my age and looking past the fact that I haven’t got a political party and looking at how I can help them.
A lot has been made in the papers of the fact that you work in McDonald’s. What do your colleagues think?
I’m full time at college so I just work at McDonald’s on a Saturday. That I work at McDonald’s is irrelevant. A lot of the people at McDonald’s are pretty supportive.
How do you feel about the jokes people have made about you ‘relishing the opportunity’ and wanting to ‘shake up ‘politics?
I thought they were pretty funny actually. It’s really important to have a sense of humour in politics.
Have you had to face any negativity?
People have made negative comments — but it’s alright. I just pick myself back up. I’m standing for Parliament for the right reasons.