Reporter 402, 19 May 1997

From campus to Commons in just six months

When Chris Leslie, a Leeds graduate (twice over) and, at the age of 24, Britain's youngest MP, introduced himself to Father of the House Edward Heath last week he was advised not to do anything too quickly and to pace himself. "That seems to be the best advice I've had so far" Chris says. "It's been very exciting, very hectic. But I'm daunted by the volume of work and high expectations." Not an unreasonable feeling for someone whose student days ended only a year ago, but he is ready to rise to the challenge: "A lot of people have put a lot of trust in us which we have to fulfil."

Chris graduated in Politics and Parliamentary Studies in 1994, working as a researcher for Gordon Brown, where he explored the idea of a windfall levy, as part of his degree. He followed that with an MA in Industrial and Labour Studies, graduating in 1996. He stood for the Labour Party in Shipley and won the seat from Tory backbencher Sir Marcus Fox. Chris attended a drinks reception at Number 11 and says "everything is so much smaller than you imagine. The wallpaper was fairly mottled and the carpet's a bit shabby but that's appropriate for the Chancellor."

In all, the University fielded over 30 staff and alumni in the General Election, and 16 were elected, all to represent Labour. Clare Short is now Minister for Overseas Development, Jack Straw is Home Secretary and Geoffrey Hoon, a former staff member, is Under-Secretary in the Lord Chancellor's department.

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