Emily Benn, the 25-year-old Labour hopeful for Croydon South, is honing in on housing, the NHS and the economy to try to secure votes in a seat considered to be one of London’s safest.
Miss Benn, who was elected a Croydon councillor in 2014, explained that these were the issues brought up time and time again by constituents during her time campaigning in the area.
The granddaughter of Labour stalwart Tony Benn and niece of prominent politician Hilary Benn, she would be the fifth generation of her family to sit in the House of Commons were she to triumph at the ballot box in May.
She admitted that the fight for the Tory-held seat, which was secured by Conservative Richard Ottaway with 50.9% of the vote in 2010, will be a tough one.
She said: “It’s not a traditional stronghold for the Labour Party obviously, but I really don’t think that should stop you from fighting as hard as you can.”
A lifelong Croydon resident, Miss Benn expressed her concerns about the housing situation in the constituency.
“We don’t have enough affordable housing, rents in Croydon have gone up a huge amount, and it has becoming increasingly difficult for people to even rent their own home, let alone think about buying,” she told SWLondoner.
“I’m still living at home and I’m 25, at some point I would quite like to be able to live on my own.”
Discussing how she would address the problem, Miss Benn criticised the Tories’ Right to Buy scheme.
“It just seems totally crazy to me, it’s not going to solve the fundamental problem, which is that we need to build more houses,” she said.
Miss Benn is also focussing on the NHS as part of her canvassing efforts in Croydon South, where the main A&E department at Croydon University Hospital was forced to declare a major incident earlier this year.
“Trying to get a GP appointment is impossible,” she stated.
“We have way too many elderly residents stuck in hospital that shouldn’t be there because our social care budget has been so decimated.”
Speaking about the economic issues faced by residents, Miss Benn said that Croydon South residents could not be expected to live on £6.50 an hour – the current minimum wage for over 21s.
She said: “Lack of wage growth has really hit in Croydon because the costs of everything, particularly housing, over the last few years have gone up so much.”
On the topic of voter turnout, Miss Benn spoke of the importance of winning over young voters.
She said: “It’s vital because in 50 years’ time or even in 30 years’ time, people of our generation are going to be inheriting a country.”