‘Generation rent’ Lib Dem candidate hopes to win Brent Central seat

Lauren Keith is the Lib Dem candidate for Brent Central

Lauren Keith is the Lib Dem candidate for Brent Central - Credit: Archant

She is part of “generation rent”, living in a private flat share in Willesden Green, wondering if any of her generation will ever be able to own their own home or live in one that doesn’t swallow half their salary.

Lauren Keith has stepped into the seat left vacant by her fellow Liberal Democrat colleague, Ibrahim Taguri, who has stepped aside from politics to clear his name over allegations of impropriety over donations.

For a party which came last in the Kenton by-election, the 30-year-old has a job on her hands to keep former MP, Sarah Teather’s seat in Brent Central.

“It’s difficult and the problem is it’s a coalition government and it’s been a tough coalition government because cuts have had to be made and of course people see us as in the same bracket as the conservatives. I think as a party we need to do more to promote what we have done in government. Sarah Teather herself got the pupil premium to help disadvantaged kids in the country, we got more apprenticeships created. We’ve done a lot of things we haven’t been great at promoting.”

Ms Keith was born and educated in Stockport, in North West England.

She graduated with a history degree from St Andrew’s University in Scotland

in 2007, “just before the crash when you’d think it was easy to get a job, but it wasn’t.”

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Returning to Southport she found work in a dry cleaners shop, walking into political life when she tried her luck at her MPs office, asking if she could get an internship, where she became a caseworker.

“People came in with their issues and I’d write letters to the council to help them out. It’s what got me really involved in politics.”

She moved to London working for Libdem MEP Sarah Ludford for a year before leaving to work in public relations for a property firm

“I was doing politics as a hobby in my spare time and I think it’s important for politicians to have an idea of the real world. Having your day job in politics and being a political activist, it’s a bit too much politics; you need to get the balance right.

“Before you become elected it’s good to have some experience outside politics.”

Last year she stood as a candidate for Mapesbury but was unsuccessful. She campaigned for the Save the Queensbury campaign, Cricklewood library and more recently she’s been campaigning on the green bin tax. “A lot of people do not want to pay for their recycling, understandably. What we’ve been doing, I’d like to do more.” Selected to stand as the candidate for Barking, this opportunity has arisen for her.

“Housing is a massive issue. I’m a young professional and still the thought of being able to buy a property is far beyond me and it is for lots of my peers.

We need a radical rethink at national and local level for more affordable housing to help people.

Education is also a massive priority, we need to carry on with the pupil premium as the only way people can get out of the poverty trap is through better education.”

Like Ms Teather, she will keep an open surgery. “If you don’t have an open constituency office, how do you know what issues your residents have or what problems they are facing? You don’t know, and it’s a key thing. That’s the only way a politician can say they know what’s going on in their area, having an open office.”

She added: “The reason I became a Libdem is because there is no safe seat and every Libdem has to work really hard. You’ve got to campaign hard; you’ve got to help the people in your area. If you are a Labour or Tory safe seat you can parachute any candidate in and they can come and take over. We don’t have that. We are a strong campaigning party. We believe in listening to people, talking to people and campaigning for them. It’s why I joined and why I’m standing for election.

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