Politics graduate becomes council leader aged 21
A Sussex politics graduate has been made leader of a local council at the age of just 21.
James Butcher, who graduated from Sussex last summer with a degree in politics, has been elected Chair of Lancing Parish Council for 2014-15.
His election means that he is one of the youngest current heads of any local authority in the UK.
He first became a Conservative Party councillor in the West Sussex parish at the start of his second year at the University, in November 2011.
James said: “It’s an honour and a great responsibility. The most important thing is that I do a good job and that I can confidently say that Lancing is better off when I leave office than when I started.”
His politics tutor at Sussex, Professor Dan Hough, said: “James always managed to mix commitment to his course with the needs of being a councillor.
“His organisational skills were really put to the test, and he passed that test with flying colours."
As chair, James will chair meetings, setting the agenda on behalf of the parish’s other, older councillors.
Talking to the Argus newspaper, he said: “As long as they show respect to me and I show respect to them, age doesn’t come into it.
“I think it’s a misconception that the older generation don’t want younger people involved, everyone on the council has been very supportive.”
Since leaving Sussex, he has also been working as a researcher for Tim Loughton, the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham.
In the future, he aims to be elected as an MP, following in the footsteps of a number of other Sussex alumni, including Labour politicians Hilary Benn, Ben Bradshaw and Peter Hain and, in the Conservative Party, Tony Baldry, Michael Fabricant and Caroline Nokes.
By: Jonathan Barton
Last updated: Tuesday, 13 May 2014