25-year-old Scott Raven is tired of UK politics. He’s tired of not having a voice. And he’s tired of the way the system currently works. But instead of just complaining about it online, like so many of us do, he’s taking action in the biggest way possible: he’s running for parliament as an independent candidate for Buckingham.
As soon as I heard Scott’s story, I was inspired by his bravery and tenacity. Here, we talk about what drives him, what's surprised him so far, and how you can make a difference in your community, too.
Q: Can you start by introducing yourself, what you do and what drives you to do what you do?
A: My name is Scott Raven and I am an independent Member of Parliament (MP) candidate for Buckingham. I am a Politics teacher at a local school/college and I used to work for a charity called Global Classrooms. I live in a beautiful village in Buckinghamshire, England and I am 25 years old.
In terms of what drives me – I could talk for days! It really comes down to the love I have for the democratic process, which is something that we should all be incredibly grateful for. I am running as an MP in my local area because I strongly believe the people of Buckingham deserve a decent choice when electing a representative for Parliament. The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, is currently our MP, which means he must remain impartial and does not get to vote on Parliamentary decisions our behalf. Therefore, the people of Buckingham have no say on what happens on a national level.
Q: What made you stop being an observer and start being an active participant?
A: I have always been a proactive person. If something needs doing, I’ll do it.
By throwing yourself into different situations you get opportunity to learn from that new experience.
When it comes to politics, I believe that politics is everybody’s job, not somebody else’s. We all have a duty to step up and try to make society better.
Q: What is one of the biggest things you’ve learned so far from engaging with the public on a political level? What’s surprised you?
A: I am surprised by how interested people are. There is a lot of apathy and frustration towards politicians at the moment. However, the people I have spoken to seem interested and engaged which has been a really positive thing for me to experience. Voter turnout in Buckingham is around 70% which is above the national average, so luckily I am dealing with some very switched on people. I have also learnt that oftentimes people are quick to criticise, but they don’t take the time to hear the positive actions politicians have taken to help the community. I know some politicians ruin it for the rest of us, but most of us are genuinely trying to help people as much as we can!
Q: Do you agree that in order to fully understand the political climate, we need to embrace and understand both sides of the argument?
A: Absolutely. Let’s use the Brexit referendum as an example here. As someone who voted to remain in the EU, I think it's vital now to come together as a nation to tackle this monumental operation. Most people who voted to leave did so in order to break away from a political union with Europe, and most of the people who voted to remain wanted to stay in a cultural, social, economic and academic union with Europe. Now, we need to find a way to leave the political union but maintaining a close relationship with Europe. A relationship which fosters growth and unity but remains separate from the political process. This can be achieved only if we work together.
Q: What made you run as an independent candidate? For anyone who isn’t familiar with the process, could you outline how it works?
A: Becoming a candidate is fairly simple, all it takes is time and support. To become a good candidate, you need to be deeply driven to help the people you are running to represent. I chose to run as an independent candidate because major political parties do not run against the speaker of the House.
I have also started to doubt party politics as a viable means of representation in general.
From what I have seen, running as a party candidate will get you a lot more support to begin with but once you’re on the inside, party politics becomes a bigger priority than your constituents – and nothing should be bigger than the people who elected you to represent them. As an independent, I am free of this chain of command, free to be ‘whipped’ only by the people I represent!
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to make a difference, but feels insignificant and hopeless? How can they start making their own impact, however small? How can they get started?
A: I have 3 pieces of advice for this:
1) Start by learning. The most logical foundation before you start anything is to gain some prior knowledge. Read up about politics, follow the news, learn who your local candidates are and gain an awareness of what issues there are in your local area.
2) VOTE. It is so simple. It takes 5 minutes and it will make a huge difference. If 30% more 18-25 year olds would have voted in the Brexit referendum, there would have been a ‘remain’ majority. The younger generation out-number the old for the first time in human history – we can make a difference if we get out there and vote.
3) Litter on your road? Stop expecting others to do it and go pick it up. A neighbour has lost a dog? Help them put up flyers. Get a taste of what it is like to help people, even when no-one is watching. It takes time, but you can become a well-respected member of your household, street, village, town or city. Lastly, look at how you can improve the world around you, even if it’s a little bit.