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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Benn's granddaughter runs for MP
Emily Benn
Ms Benn first campaigned with grandfather Tony when she was two
The 17-year-old granddaughter of Labour veteran Tony Benn is to contest a seat in the next general election.

A-level student Emily Benn, who turns 18 next month, has been chosen as the party's candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, in West Sussex.

If elected, she would be the fifth generation from her family to enter Parliament, and the youngest MP ever.

The minimum age at which a person can stand for Parliament was lowered from 21 to 18 last year.

'So honoured'

Ms Benn told the BBC she had found out about the Worthing vacancy and sent the local party her CV "to see what would happen", adding: "And after various stages I was selected."

Asked if her name had been an advantage, she said: "I am so honoured that they chose me. They would be mad to do it just because of the name, really."

Ms Benn's uncle is Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

Her first experience of political campaigning came in 1992 - when she was two years old - in her grandfather's Chesterfield constituency.

Asked if her family's experience of Labour politics had put her off, Ms Benn said: "Not at all actually.

"Ever since I have been campaigning, I have absolutely loved every minute of it and, to be honest, it is all I have ever really wanted to do."

Ms Benn added: "It is such an honour to be selected by people to represent them. I just have to do them justice. That is all I have to worry about now."


She said she did not think her political ambitions were "incompatible" with her studying for her A-levels, which she sits at St Olave's School in Orpington in June.

"I think I can juggle them," Ms Benn added.

To win in East Worthing and Shoreham, she would have to overturn a majority of 8,183 gained in the 2005 general election by Conservative Tim Loughton.

Ms Benn, who lives in Norwood, south London, says on her personal blog: "I may be young, but this would be a fantastic experience to show that young people are capable of being involved, interested and enthusiastic about politics.

"It would be the greatest honour, representing Labour - the party I love - as a candidate anywhere, and trying to help those who need it desperately."

Weekly Hansard

Ms Benn, who has been a Labour member since she was 14, said she had done "many weeks of work experience in the prime minister's political office in Downing Street, giving me the chance to see how policy is developed first-hand".

She added: "I get a weekly Hansard to read the issues being debated in Parliament.

"From discussions with family and colleagues, I have built up considerable knowledge of the history of the Labour movement, and of the policies today being discussed, at the heart of the party's government."

Tony Benn was an MP for almost 50 years before retiring in 2001.

He told the BBC that his granddaughter would not play on her family name: "People vote for you because of what you believe in. Whether you believe their views.

"This idea that politics is all about charisma and spin is rubbish. It is trust that matters."

The left-wing critic of New Labour described Emily as a "very intelligent and serious person" and promised not to "embarrass" her.

Tony Benn's father, William Wedgwood Benn, was a Liberal MP who defected to Labour. Both his grandfathers were also Liberal MPs.

Emily Benn is the daughter of Tony Benn's eldest son, Stephen.

Emily Benn talks about her hopes for a future in politics

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