York student wins Norfolk seat

I was amazed to read today that a 19-year old Liberal Democrat student based at York University won a Norfolk district council seat in a by-election this week.

The Lib Dems always make a big deal about candidates not living in their constituency, even if they are just two miles out. Yet here they are not only supporting Ben McGilvray who lives 180 miles away, but then winning the seat with a stomping majority of 614, winning 62.5% of the vote.

“Every resident has, or should have, my mobile number and that will allow me to keep in touch with people. They are quite welcome to ring me 24/7,” he told the Eastern Daily Press.

Only time will tell if Ben can keep his well-intentioned promise to have regular contact with local constituents, particularly as he has pledged to fight proposals for a planned eco-town.

Realistically, how can Ben commit sufficient time to his council duties, attend meetings and lead local campaigns when he lives so far away, as well as work hard at his studies for a good degree? They are both hugely demanding roles.

Ben won the seat in Wroxham for Broadland District Council and has the honour of being the council’s youngest ever member since it was created in 1974. A fellow Lib Dem, Hugh Lanham, also secured victory the same day in Walsingham for North Norfolk District Council. Conservatives came second in both, and Labour trailed behind dismally finishing last. Both these seats had previously been held by Independent candidates.

These results demonstrate that despite our success in the polls, Conservatives cannot be complacent, and we should certainly not be measuring up for curtains at 10 Downing Street.


  1. Canary away

    I agree it will be difficult for Ben to split his time yet as a University student he should have about 5 months a year holiday time and History students have notoriously low contact hours so his actual firm commitments to York may only be 10 hours a week. With Many councillors having jobs which require 40 hour working weeks with 2-3 weeks holiday. Surely there is an argument that Ben has a greater degree of freedom than most in his position.

  2. Gr8!! idea and a great blog. I appreciate your work & hope for some more informative posts.

  3. It’s nice to hear of a young person willing to commit to politics, even if he does live so far away. I think his “call me any time” offer is a bit naive, though!

  4. That’s true. Complacency lost Labour the election in 92 when they thought they would win. We don’t want that to happen with the Conservatives this time round.

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