"It's important to be less dismissive of youth getting involved in politics," says Henry Scott - the UK's youngest parliamentary candidate.
Mr Scott only turned 18 in November but he is standing as an independent candidate in this month's General Election. In Leyton & Wanstead, he will tackle the incumbent Labour candidate John Cryer, as well as representatives from the Conservative Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Brexit Party.
Despite his young age, Mr Scott believes he can offer a unique approach in the ever-changing world of politics. HITC Politics writer Jay Williams caught up with Mr Scott for an interview ahead of the December election.
Why did you choose to run as an independent candidate?
I chose to run as an independent candidate because I am tired of playground politics and how the main parties are becoming even further apart at this election and attacking each other.
Also, I was coming home one day from school when I realised that I would be able to vote. I realised that I didn't want to vote for any of the parties. In this election, every promise and manifesto just seemed like a load of soon to be unfulfilled promises.
Why don't you trust the UK's main political parties?
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have both become divisive figures in the UK.
This election, I have lost faith with the main political parties. I lost confidence in their ability to listen to people's needs, regardless of a general surgery in the week. People need to be heard, and I'm annoyed that people only get to have a view every five years. Our representatives need to be in touch with us more throughout their tenure.
Also, I am tired of the magic money forest that appears every election where the main parties have promised us trillions. Public service funding shouldn't be used as a bargaining tool with voters. It should be adequately funded throughout a party's hold on power.
What are your main pledges for this election campaign?
Reintroduce sports and arts funding in schools: children should have a rich and vibrant education if we want our nation to be successful in the world. So, why aren't we offering students every opportunity? I want to propose national curriculum changes as well and focus on the mental health of students and adults alike.
Laws surrounding mental health need to be reformed in this country to reflect the current issues which face people today. The 1984 Mental Health Act is outdated. People also need care now! Not in 9 months on the NHS.
Training programs for new staff will take too long for many people in crisis which is why I am proposing community therapy groups - utilising NHS councillors' time better and bringing members of the community together to build a support system for them. This will create some form of help for those suffering the most from issues until they can get access to one-on-one care.
How heavily will you focus on Brexit in this election?
Brexit is an issue which has taken the spotlight off essential problems for the country.
John Cryer, the incumbent, is a Brexiteer.
John Cryer, middle, is a Eurosceptic who voted to leave the EU in 2016, unlike the majority of Leyton & Wanstead.
While he has done a good job for our constituency, he voted to enact Article 50. This does not reflect the views of our constituency from the 2016 referendum. To communicate our constituencies' views, he should have campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU after the referendum.
Politicians have fought about this for three years now with almost no compromise. No one can agree on anything. Forcing one view onto another will only cause more divide. This is why we need to find an understanding and work together across the House of Commons to find a deal people can, perhaps not like, but agree on.
If we continue like this not only will we see the country break apart but we will also see more civil unrest as more critical issues such as crime, education, the environment and the NHS crisis go unnoticed.
What do you believe you can offer Leyton & Wanstead?
As an independent, I would never vote for any issue that would reflect poorly on my constituents.
A party politician can be whipped into voting for a bill which could be disastrous and unfair to his/her area. As an independent, I will have the ability to vote on any legislation on the basis of how it will affect my potential constituents.
How does it feel to be the UK's youngest candidate?
It feels exciting. I felt quite proud that I am able to be on the ballot box for so many people to have the option to vote for.
If one day I join a party as a potential candidate, that will make me even prouder because I will be able to bring some new ideas and a new way to think in politics.
How important is youth involvement in politics?
Youth involvement is important, especially today. Firstly, the vote should be extended to 16-year-olds. Secondly, if we continue on the route we're going down, I feel that electoral turnout is going to decline again.
Many people feel quite disenfranchised, primarily because of the Brexit issue. People need to be taking an interest in the direction their country is headed, especially with the amount of deception and broken manifesto promises from the other parties in recent years.
How can we get more young people involved in politics?
Politicians (senior ones) could apologise for mistakes and comments. I am sorry. Three words go a long way for many people.
Also, it's important to be less dismissive of youth getting involved in politics. I have found some people to be more dismissive than encouraging. Or belittling. That is only a few people, but it can be quite discouraging.
Other than that, being supportive and making sure people are aware of issues facing them or those around them. To young people - an apology would go miles.
How would you respond to critics saying you are too inexperienced to become an MP?
I would argue that when someone stands as an MP for the first time and gets elected for the first time, it's a learning experience. I would imagine there would be much support from other members of the Commons and members of my community with a political background - with whom I have been speaking to a lot as well.
I have ideas; that's not to say all of them are good. I want to contribute these ideas to the conversation in the Commons and relook at the way we are doing things in government, for example, prisons, crime, and the NHS.
Many voters in Leyton & Wanstead seem resigned to John Cryer being re-elected. How would you respond if someone told you that a vote for anyone but Labour would be wasted?
People who don't vote are saying that they don't care.
Every vote - 'wasted' or not - is a voice for reform so that our votes count. We perhaps need to work within the confines of the First Past The Post system but make it more democratic and give voters more choice. Applying a voter choice to the ballot box would really help.
If you don't want to vote for John Cryer or any other party, vote for me. We can prove to the system that your vote doesn't have to be wasted. A vote for me is a vote for your voice to be heard.
'Why not try a change,' is what I say to voters.
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