A North East student has become one of the youngest councillors in the country, while still studying for his Politics degree.
Jack Cunningham, 19, is studying Politics with Sociology at the University of Sunderland, and has just been elected a councillor for Hetton Downs Ward.
Jack has been a member of the Labour Party since he was 14 years old, and when there was a by-election coming up at Hetton Town Council, he decided to put what he is learning at university into practice.
“I thought, ‘Well, why not get stuck in?” says Jack. “I’m pleased I did, I’m really over the moon to be representing people I’ve grown up with and known all my life.”
Though Jack points out that he represents all ages and backgrounds, he does believe that young people are becoming more politicised.
“The austerity agenda has led to more young people thinking in-depth about politics,” he says. “How students and young people are treated is frankly shameful. People like me should not be made to pay for the mistakes of others.
“My experience is that most of us want a fairer and more equal society, and especially in a region like the North East, where there can be fewer opportunities to get on. I don’t think your age should be an issue, it’s what someone can give to a role and what expertise they have that matters, not age.”
Jack is quick to point out that though his family has always been interested in politics, he isn’t actually related to his more famous namesake, former Tony Blair cabinet member, now Baron Cunningham of Felling.
“It’s just a funny coincide,” Jack says, “but he’s a solid labour man, so good on him!”