June 2017: Labour landslide in school election

A HIGH school’s mock-election went against the local trend by returning a Labour candidate with a landslide victory.

The Haslingden High School candidates were: Tarek Ahmed, Labour; Hannah Crook, Green; Katie Griffin, Liberal Democrat and Mia Halstead, Conservative.

The whole school got to experience polling day as the Sixth Form Theatre became a polling station with each student being given polling card to exchange for a ballot paper on the day.

They went into specially constructed booths to vote in secrecy before posting their ballot paper in a very authentic looking ballot box.

Tarek won with 817 votes, Mia was second with 238, then Katie 80 votes and finally Hannah with 47.

Both Tarek and Mia have been bitten by the politics bug and have now expressed an interest in getting to know more about the local political scene.

Head of Humanities Karen Powell, who was also returning officer to announce the result, said: “When you are voting for the first time it can be a daunting experience, but the whole process is such an important part of our democracy.

“In the debates we held the students asked good questions and we had a really good Sixth Form turnout. Overall around 90 per cent of students voted and we only had 36 spoilt ballots.

“I think a lot of young people felt the Brexit decision was made by the older generation, but it is their future that will be affected. They felt that the change was brought about by a generation who will not be influenced by it.”

Mia, 14, said: “I didn’t expect to get that many votes because people were telling me how they were going to vote Labour so I was pleased to get the support I did.

“Students in Year 9 are now starting to make their own decisions.”

Katie will be 18 in January and so next May’s local elections will be her first opportunity to vote.

She said: “Lowering the voting age should be considered, however some people will still be in school and some will just go off what their parents think.

“I followed social media on election day and so many young people were talking about how they had voted for Labour.”

Triumphant Tarek, 15, said: “When Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones came round our house leafleting on election day I told him that I had won a landslide in the school election.

“When I got in from the Mosque at midnight, I managed to get some sleep between 1am and 2.30am, but then I just couldn’t stop watching the election outcome on TV until 6.30am.”