Newly-elected MP Tom Pursglove told our students about the past two years of political campaigning and the work that he does on a daily basis in his Corby and East Northants constituency. He was aged just 13 when he set his heart on a career in politics and was one of the youngest people in the country ever to become a local councillor five years later. He continued his interest with a political degree and jobs in Westminster.
Mr Pursglove won the Corby and East Northants seat with a majority of nearly 2,500 in May, after nearly two years of constant campaigning and listening to constituents. He visited Brooke Weston as part of our ongoing Year 8 election campaigns and gave a 20-minute talk followed by a question and answer session.
He told the students: ‘When I was 13 I wanted to be an MP and I never once deviated from that. My education in terms of my options, my A Levels, my degree course and my first job were all geared towards trying to achieve that, and it paid off. While I was still at school I was elected to Wellingborough council. Not only did I have that career focus but I thought it was so important that young people are represented in politics. I was still in the Sixth Form when I was elected but it was the right thing to do and we did change things. Wellingborough Council became much more focused on the issues that affect young people and, since then, many more young candidates have got involved in local politics.
'My best bit of advice for all of you is to get out there and talk to people. The way to win an election is not to stick lots of leaflets through doors, although that plays a part, but the key objective we set ourselves was to get around and try and see everybody in the constituency. I loved that challenge. You don’t really know what people are worried about unless you get out there and talk to them. I run ‘the listening campaign’ and that is all about finding out what people care about and campaigning on those issues. Younger people are really important because what you think and what you do will have a direct impact on the future of our country.
'I receive thousands of pieces of correspondence a week on things that people want help with as well as topical issues. Everybody deserves an answer so we spend a lot of time trying to provide a really quality service because as a local MP I want to provide a first class service for local residents because they put their trust in me.’
He described a typical day where he could do a school visit in the morning, take part in an advice surgery, meet local healthcare professionals then tour a local business: ‘It is a really varied job and I am probably a bit of a nosy person so it is probably the best job in the world because you get invited to so many different places and get to see so many fascinating things.’
During the question and answer session students asked about topics including effective public speaking, tips on campaigning and Mr Pursglove's constituency work. He said: ‘It is important to be a good listener, you have to be realistic and have to advise people of the correct course of action and have a willingness to take things up and make representations on people’s behalf, a willingness to engage and try and get answers. You have certain issues that you have a real depth of knowledge and expertise in and other issues where you don’t know much at all, and you almost become a bit of a self-taught expert at things on the back of constituents coming to see you.
'I often feel very challenged going in and speaking to school groups as you do get those curve-ball, difficult questions! It is so important that the views of younger people are taken into account by our politicians because they are the future. What they do and what they think about things is crucially important and I don’t want a situation where we continue to have falling turn outs because young people don’t get involved.’
The tutor group that wins this year’s Brooke Weston election will have the opportunity to visit the Houses of Parliament. Mr Pursglove told them: ‘You are going to absolutely love Westminster. I try not to take it for granted when I am working there. It is the heart of where our democracy is. It is a living, breathing thing in many respects. I wish you all the best of luck with your election. Enjoy it.’