Meet Issy Waite: UK’s youngest Labour MP determined to flip a Conservative stronghold

Meet Issy Waite: UK’s youngest Labour MP determined to flip a Conservative stronghold

Written by Madeleine Anderson

Photo courtesy Issy Waite

“I’ve always believed that the only way we can achieve real change in the UK is with a Labour government, and I think it’s important to have young people involved on every level.”

That’s the view of 21-year-old Issy Waite, Labour’s youngest parliamentary candidate who is set to run in the seat of North West Essex in the next general election against Kemi Badenoch, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business and Trade.

The area has been recognised as a Conservative safe seat for over a century, with the Tories winning over 50% of local votes in the last five elections. 

UK politics have been turbulent in recent years, following the divisive Brexit vote and a series of unelected leaders which included the country’s shortest ever premiership thanks to  the populist Liz Truss, who was in office for 44 days. 

While current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has not announced a date yet, it is widely believed a general election will take place this year. Labour are the current favourites to win, potentially ending the Conservatives’ 14 years in power. 

Badenoch sits firmly in the right wing of the party and previously mounted a leadership campaign to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister in 2022. 

She currently holds two cabinet posts, as Secretary of State for Business and Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities, regularly speaking out against topics including gender-neutral toilets and critical race theory. 

issy waite, uk politics, parliament

Still at University, Waite has been Hampstead and Highgate’s Constituency Labour Party vice chair for almost two years and was recently appointed as a London Labour Regional Executive committee member. 

Born in North West London, Issy spent significant parts of her childhood in rural Suffolk.  She plans to move to the Saffron Walden area in the coming weeks, to live locally and get a part-time pub job whilst also campaigning to be elected as the area’s next MP. 

Despite growing up over 60 miles from the rural Essex seat, Waite says she already feels a strong connection to the area. 

“It’s a place I feel a lot of affiliation to and I feel very passionately about. It’s a traditional area which is very similar to one in Suffolk where I spent a lot of my childhood,” she explained. 

Running against one of Britain’s most well-known Conservative MPs, Waite described the competition as an ‘uphill battle’, but maintained she was being ‘realistic’ in her approach. 

“‘I have been told by the communities and residents of North West Essex that they are disappointed and have been let down by an absent MP who is much more focused on spreading division and hatred in Westminster instead of working hard for her constituents’ interests.

“We know the hateful politics that Kemi Badenoch promotes, and I’m pushing for a kinder, gentler politics to oppose this,” she said. 

Thirty years younger than the average MP, Issy is also campaigning to improve the representation of young people in politics and to stand up for the issues that matter to them. 

“As a young person I am very scared for my future and for the future of my generation. I feel very strongly that we do need young people to bring about the changes that we need in terms of things like the climate crisis. 

“I’m optimistic and I think there is a lot of hope in the community that things can get better.

“We don’t have anyone in Parliament who is going through what we’re going through and who gets the issues that we’re facing, whereas middle aged people have basically the entire House of Commons who can represent them, and there are also older MPs.

“So everyone else is represented, but we’re not. We’re not asking for much, just a few people who do get it and will stand up for what we believe in.

“I’m asking people to put their trust in me and to see me as the candidate that can achieve real change.”

Responding to the Waite’s comments, Chairman of the North West Essex Conservative Association, George Smith said: 

“I am sure Ms Waite’s comments would have been very interesting to the residents of North West Essex. 

“It is a clear choice they have between Labour student politics and a hardworking MP and Secretary of State delivering not just for the constituency but the whole country on issues that matter to us from sorting out the Post Office to growing the UK economy and keeping us all in jobs.”  


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