Friday, June 24News For London

Coffee With A Councillor

A tall, strikingly handsome, bearded guy with endless charm approaches you. The last thing you think is that this guy works in Parliament, right? Luke Francis, 29, regardless of the little spare time he has (being devoted to the Labour party) shares his thoughts with Westminster World over a Starbucks Frappuccino.

You have to take Francis seriously. If his masters in International Relations at New York University isn’t impressive enough, then his campaign to run for Councillor for Kensington should be enough blow you away.

Young politicians may not be taken seriously in a society where the average age of one is 52. Research from House of Commons reveals that 52% (339) of MPs elected in 2017 were aged over 50. Following the election, the proportion of MPs aged 70 and over increased to 4% (28.)

“Compared to most people in politics, I came to it late. Most of the members and activists my age have been brought into the Labour Party by family members and grown up around politics.”

A girl trips over, nearly spilling her latte over our table. This distraction does not break Francis from his train of thought. He continues to tell me about his childhood and how his background sparked his interest in politics. After his dad passed away at the age of four, Francis praises the state for providing support to his family in terms of benefits and housing support, allowing his mum to go back to school and train to become a teacher.

Francis said: “I was given opportunities that would have been made impossible to someone born ten years before. It made politics very real for me, and I found myself getting more involved from that point on.”

Already a Senior Parliamentary Assistant for the Labour Party, Francis decided that this is just not enough. Eager to make a change, Francis is running for Councillor for the Kensington borough, May 2018.



Luke Francis (middle) stood with Ed Miliband and The Mayor of London. Photo Credit: Instagram

Looking at Francis, you can say that he is determined to make that change. He retells the horrific incident of Grenfell Tower, Francis spent his days after the fire working with Kensington MP to support relief effort.

Briefly smiling, he then goes on to add: “I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for many years, and worked for the Party since 2013. But witnessing first-hand the damage and the human misery that a negligent out-of-touch Conservative Council had caused, I decided it wasn’t enough to simply complain anymore.”

Strong opinions about the government is something Francis definitely has. Politics is centred around older MPs, ignorant of real issues which will affect a majority of society, especially young people.

The ongoing Brexit issue will have the most impact on young people and millennials. With inflation rising at 10%, will people be able to afford even the bare necessities? Millennials were most likely to vote ‘remain’ in the 2016 Referendum, around 60% of referendum voters, voted to remain in the European Union, as reported by the BBC

Even though older politicians have a wealth of experience behind them and have gone through pressing issues and challenging situations, a younger, intuitive politician has the drive to fight for a change in a society fuelled by political upheaval.

It seems that Francis is on his way to save the millennial era. Francis said: “The average age of a councillor is also 60 years old, so if I win next May, I’ll be half the age of most people there.”

He is aware that there can be barriers in politics in regards to age, but now is the time for change. He added: “There can be times when innovation and youth can be met with some resistance from more established quarters – but I hope it hasn’t put off too many young people from getting involved.”

Providing an insight into politics from a millennials point of view is what makes this interview with Francis stand out. He remembers the blueberry muffin, he ordered half an hour ago and quickly takes a bite of it. Satisfied, he continues to discuss the Labour Party and why it stood out for him against the other political parties.

Politics is about priorities and Francis is certain that the Labour Party has the right ones. He said: “Invest in people and the institutions that provide opportunity and fairness in society, give everyone a chance to succeed and fulfil their potential.”

Looking at the generational population percentages of the UK, those aged 25-35 make up the third largest group at 13.8 million. Millennials need representing, they seem to be ignored and their opinions taken for granted. Society needs young politicians to fight for the age group which seem irrelevant within politics.

His phone rings, he quickly checks a message and realises that he needs to race off. When Parliament calls you run. That’s his lunch hour over, an interview and a bite of a muffin. Next thing he is off. It seems that Francis is on his way to save the millennial era. We should watch out for Luke Francis, I am sure it will be councillor Francis now and then Prime Minster Francis next.