Introducing the angry young man of local Labour politics
The Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Party’s future’s bright - the future’s Jogee
MOTIVATED by the actions of the coalition government, 18-year-old Adam Jogee is the angry young man of local Labour politics.
Armed with the a slick political smile, a boyish charm and the ability to relate to young and old, but powered with the surly frustration that only comes with youth, it seems Hornsey resident Adam is destined for great things.
All of these factors come in to play when he gives a talk on politics and Youth Parliament to a tough audience of Year 5 pupils at Coleridge Primary School in Crouch End – and later gets mobbed by at least 20, asking for his autograph.
Jogee is currently the youngest elected official in the Labour party in his role as chairman of the Hornsey branch and can already lay claim to almost a decade-long political career, with an interest that reaches back to the 97 election when he peeked at his parents’ ballot papers to ensure they voted Labour.
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In Year 5 at Weston Park Primary School, Adam first made it on to the school council at the third time of asking, before advancing to Haringey Youth Council at senior school, Youth Parliament member for the borough and now London.
There are many things Adam is “angry” about – first up, “the age thing” and the idea it’s odd for someone his age to be so actively political.
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“I don’t think it’s strange – I can see why some people would be surprised I’m 18 and have such an interest in politics, but I don’t think age comes into it if someone has a view and really wants to make a difference,” he says.
“I get annoyed about the whole age thing, if I can fight a war, why can I not have a view on it? If I can fight for my country, I can represent it.”
He also gets fed up with people telling him he doesn’t understand “adult” politics – a view aired in “several nasty emails” he says he has received from Liberal Democrat and Conservative campaigners.
He says: “People have said to me you don’t understand adult politics, but I’ve studied history and the formation of political parties and the unions at A-level – and got an A*.
“The people who are telling me that, I don’t think they were around when the Second World War was going on, but they are happy quoting Churchill.
“Often the debates we have in Youth Parliament are more productive and based on policy than what goes on in the ‘adult politics’ of the House of Commons.”
Second up for his wrath is the coalition government.
“Since May, for the Labour Party and centre-left progressives like me, a light bulb has come on and we’ve thought, ‘Holy macaroni, the Tories are back in government – why do we have a Conservative Prime Minister?’
“I did an A-level in economics and even I can see that we do not need to cut as fast and as deep as they are doing.
“One thing that really p*sses me off is we have allowed the Tories and Lib Dems to frame the deficit as Labour incompetence – if we had not injected capital into the economy or bailed out the banks we would have been in a worse position than places like Greece, or Ireland now.
“I’m angry because people’s lives will be decimated.”
Even the actions of his beloved Labour Party are not out of the firing line – he speaks about difficulties with the Iraq war, particularly as a Muslim, while of the recent election campaign in Hornsey and Wood Green he bites his tongue before saying: “Things could have been done differently. More could have been done.”
But mostly he has only passion for Labour – something embedded in him from an early age, when his parents were friends with former MP Barbara Roche.
At just 13 in the 2005 general election campaign, when Lynne Featherstone first claimed the seat, Jogee pretended to be sick and skipped lessons so he could stage a one-man protest outside Weston Park Primary, where Ms Featherstone and Charles Kennedy were visiting.
“I remember Lynne looking at me like she was thinking, ‘You little sod’,” he grins.
He acutely remembers the pain he felt in May when the results saw Roche ousted and the general apathy which he feels hit the local party – a group he claims is now rejuvenated and united in their frustration at being out of power.
He also says the group are now being proactive in going out onto the streets and setting up stalls in town centres in the west of the borough.
He is repeatedly tipped to be the next political young star, if not Prime Minister – something that comes with its own pressures.
“I don’t know if I’ll be an MP – that’s not me not wanting to show my cards, but as my mum said, you have got to think about this and all the things that come with it.
“There’s an element of pressure because if I don’t go into politics it will be, ‘I wonder what happened to him,’ but I wouldn’t do it just because of that.”
As a young, black Muslim with fresh ideas and youthful appeal, Jogee is undoubtedly excellent election leaflet fodder in a cynical world, but does he ever worry he could be used as a gimmick?
“Funnily, my father said to me the other day, ‘You have got to make sure people don’t use you and make sure people are using you because you are making a difference and acknowledge you are making a difference. If it ever seems you are there because you are young, black and speak well, that’s when you have got to get out fast.’
“But I don’t think I’m there yet.”
With a younger sister and a brother who have also been involved with the campaign trail, could we be talking about the Jogees in the way the Milibands have recently grabbed headlines?
“I said to my brother, ‘If you do that to me I will kill you’ – and he started laughing.”
But with all this talk of Jogee’s future – he admits his peers tease him and call him Prime Minister – some would be concerned that his formative teenage years are being sacrificed.
Not so he says, at pains to emphasise that he does have a social life and that after he completes his gap year scheme at Accenture, he intends to throw himself into university life – albeit studying politics.
“I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do and in fact, if anything, being involved in politics at an early age has allowed me to do more,” he says.
“I wouldn’t have met Nelson Mandela or sat on the benches of the House of Commons. If anything it’s broadened my horizons and I still go to parties and have a social life – and actually it helps with women quite a lot.”
Year 5 pupils at Coleridge Primary School had the chance to grill Adam Jogee on Friday – here are some of their best Jeremy Paxman moments.
Q: Who do you hate more – the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats?
A: I guess I should say I don’t ‘hate’ anybody, but who do I dislike more? I don’t like the Conservatives at all, I used to like the Lib Dems a bit more than I do now.
Q: Do you ever disagree with Labour Party policy?
A: My family are Muslim and when we used to go to the mosque all the talk would be about the war on Iraq and I think that was a huge negative Labour Party policy that Tony Blair introduced.
Q: What did you want to be when you were younger?
A: At primary school our end of year play was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I wanted to be the newsreader, so I kind of wanted to be a mini Trevor Macdonald – now I’ve kind of jumped across to the other side.
Q: Do you think you’ll be Prime Minister?
A: I don’t know.
Q: Do you want to be?
A: I’ve got to be careful, this could come back to bite me. But I would like to be active in politics, wherever that takes me it does. Does that answer the question or is that a politician’s answer?