Labour’s Sam Carling, 22, is first MP to be born in 21st century

Seven MPs secured victory in the general election by fewer than 100 votes, in a contest which ultimately produced a Labour landslide.

One of those was the party’s 22-year-old Sam Carling, who ousted veteran Conservative MP Shailesh Vara by just 39 votes to win the North West Cambridgeshire seat.

After a recount it was confirmed that Vara’s 2019 majority of 25,983 had been smashed by the first MP to be born in the 21st century.

In an election of countless subplots, Carling’s age hasn’t been a central storyline. He would like that to continue.

“I want us to get away from this strange mindset towards younger people’s age,” the Cambridge University science graduate student told the BBC.

“As far as I’m concerned we’re just the same as anyone else. I just want to get on with the job.”

Carling, who spent two years as a councillor in Cambridge, replaces fellow Labour MP Keir Mather as the “baby of the house”.

Mather was 25 when he won the Selby and Ainsty byelection last year, and following boundary changes has now been elected to represent the new Selby constituency.

His replacement as the Commons’ youngest member may have a slim majority, but triumphing over an incumbent who had held the seat for nearly 20 years is no small feat.

Carling recognises this, describing his victory as a “political earthquake” he hopes will inspire other people his age.

“Then they will see themselves represented, both in Parliament and local councils. It will help tackle apathy,” he told the BBC.

In a way, Carling’s age is immaterial. The issues that exist in his constituency, which includes a significant chunk of Peterborough, are the same as those faced across the UK.

He has been elected to tackle them; the 22-year-old’s success will be judged by how effectively he does so.

Carling told the BBC that he wants his party to “get to grips with” a lack of dentists and to help swathes of “dreadfully overworked” NHS staff.

Though a relative mainstay in the city of Cambridge, the new MP hails from a rural town in the north-east of England which he described as “very deprived”.

Like many others, his interest in politics was shaped by his surroundings.

“I saw a lot of things getting worse around me. I was concerned about shops closing on local high streets that used to be a thriving hub and are basically now a wasteland.

“And the sixth form closed, but I didn’t make the connection to politics until later.”

Carling’s LinkedIn profile, not yet updated to reflect his new role, tells an impressive academic story. The 22-year-old achieved six A* at A-Level before he took up his place at Cambridge.

It was there that his political career began to take shape. Carling spent just shy of two years in the Cambridge University Labour Club, where he had stints as treasurer and secretary before ending his time in August 2022 as co-chair.

Less than two years later he’s an MP, a trajectory Carling hopes others will follow. In fact, he believes there’s an appetite for it among the electorate.

Telling the BBC that “people on the doorstep were very positive”, Carling insists there’s a distinction between online and in-person attitudes. After all, age is just a number.

The Guardian