The Glasgow Guardian catches up with the two students running for local council positions in the upcoming elections.
With local elections shortly approaching on 5 May, The Glasgow Guardian speaks to two University of Glasgow students Jamie McGuire and Holly Moscrop who have declared their candidacy.
Jamie is running for Renfrew North and Braehead ward for Renfrewshire council representing Scottish Labour, who is also part of their Future leader’s programme. This is the second campaign for Jamie in this seat as a by-election was postponed mid-campaign following a legal challenge from a disqualified candidate. Holly is a candidate for the Scottish Conservative and Unionists, running in the Clydebank Waterfront ward of West Dunbartonshire council.
The first question we posed to the two candidates is why students should get involved in local politics. Jamie said “it allows them to influence their local community and make a positive difference in a vast amount of people’s lives. I’m very passionate about what I do, so I believe that drove me into local politics.
“I have always had a passion for the area I live in, always bursting with ideas on what could be better or what could be done differently. So, being involved in local politics gave me that opportunity to make an impact and be at the forefront of the community.”
Holly said: “I think it’s important for students to get involved in politics so that young people can be properly represented and heard. The struggles that students have faced over the past few years have not been experienced by previous generations so I think now more than ever we need young people who have firsthand experience, of things like studying in the pandemic, voicing their opinions and taking up political roles.
“We need to ensure that the students of the future are well supported and have their wellbeing, mental health and education made a priority.”
As the two candidates are also current students it will undoubtedly pose a challenge balancing the two workloads. Jamie refutes this: “I’ll balance the role by prioritising. It’s frustrating when people say they don’t have time for X, Yand Z because if you want something enough, you will find time for it in your hectic schedule. Extra time can be found by getting up an hour earlier or taking more time off social media or something else which lacks significance.
“Currently, along with my studies I work with an MSP, campaign for my election, have two internships, chair a university society and work with various other charitable organisations. So, my advice is that time is always there; it’s just how you spend it, spend it wisely, feel more productive and see an improvement in all aspects of your life”.
Likewise, Holly also dismissed the challenge: “For me, being a councillor whilst studying would be no different to any other hardworking student that has a job. Where being a councillor is unique is that it doesn’t involve traditional set working hours and it would allow me to directly help local people.
“I used to work full-time whilst studying so I know how essential it is for students to have a healthy work-life balance. It may not be an easy task to balance the two, especially as I’ll be in the final year of my degree, but having the opportunity to help make a difference in local communities will be worth it.”
Finally, we posed the question as to why students should get involved in local politics. Jamie said: “If you do get involved, do be prepared for all the negatives that come with it; there’s no doubt about it you will get trolls who will come in their hoards, you will get people slamming the door on your face, you will get people who detest you just because the party you represent.
“But for me, the positives outweigh the negatives; being able to help those most in need just knowing you’ve made a significant improvement to their lives makes the negativity seem minuscule in comparison to the positives you can bring.”
This sentiment was shared by Holly who’s advice to students was: “I think joining political university societies and associations is a good place to start if your university has them. It can be intimidating getting involved in a political party as people can be older and more experienced than you, so a university society filled with people your age and that share your beliefs can be a great start if you are nervous or don’t know anyone.
“Politics can feel quite isolating sometimes, especially if you don’t know other people who are interested in it or who share your thoughts, so joining these groups – no matter if it is a political university association or a one-issue campaign group”.
Scottish council elections take place on Thursday 5 May this year. The deadline to register to vote is 11.59pm on Monday 18 April (the deadline for other elections in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is on Thursday 14 April). You can register to vote by clicking here.