William Hague was only 16 when he burst onto the political scene with his famous conference speech. But even the future Tory party leader would seem like a veritable grandfather compared to those in youth politics these days. For now the Liberal Democrats have given the green light to a 12-year-old to run in their party’s annual youth wing elections currently being held this month.
The political neophyte in question is Aneirin Keysell, a schoolboy from Richmond-upon-Thames running to fill the post of non-portfolio officer. His self-effacing manifesto notes that:
“I don't have any real qualifications but I am very well versed into the world of current affairs and I am aware of what goes on in the United Kingdom and know other political events happening elsewhere in Europe and North America.
He continues modestly:
“ I have no firm on any matter of policy and will base my decisions on the majority of members' explaining that 'I get my motivation to run for this position is because I believe in Liberalism...I believe the Liberal Democrats have somewhat disconnected from the young people that we lost in 2015 that voted for the Liberal Democrats' – an event that happened when he was just six years old.
The rising star of centre-left politics continues under the section of 'background':
“I like studying History and Geography as history will allow you to reference the past into the present and Geography will help you to know the future. I spend my free time playing with friends on games but also listening to political podcasts and learning about past political events.
Mr S applauds the enthusiasm of Keysell but hears rumours of discontent within some Lib Dem circles at such a young candidate running for office amid safeguarding fears. The party's youth wing includes members up to 26, and political parties have sadly been frequently involved in various scandals during recent years. Such concerns however do not appear to be shared by the party's top brass, which have given Keysell the green light to stand in the contest.
A Liberal Democrat spokesperson told Mr S:
“All roles with legal and safeguarding responsibilities within the Young Liberals are age-restricted. Official safeguarding matters for the Young Liberals are managed and maintained by a designated member of staff who is trained and works alongside the federal party to promote best practice and the safety and welfare of young members.
Still, given his ambition to help make 'the Liberal Democrats back into a party of Government' maybe Keysell's age means he will be around long enough to actually make that happen one day.