On May 2, Harry Nathan will cast his first ever vote – for himself.

At just 18, he is contesting the Wivenhoe ward in the Colchester Council elections.

I went door-to-door with the Labour candidate...and it was tough going.

The response at the first door went something like this: “All politicians are liars, thieves and vagabonds, you should give up.”

“This is the hardest part of canvassing," said Harry.

It will take five more doors before someone is pleased to see the 18-year old. So pleased, in fact, she shows the student around her garden.

Sadly there is not a lot of energy on this canvass. The group of four seem disappointed with the turnout. Harry’s seat is deemed unwinnable.

Perhaps understandably so as the incumbent is Mark Cory, the Liberal Democrat leader of Colchester Council, who incidentally was 19 himself when he was elected.

Across the county there is surge of young candidates this year, albeit many are fighting for seats they have little chance of winning.

A few miles away, Michael McDonnell, 20, is on the campaign trial. He hopes to represent the Conservatives in Old Heath and the Hythe.

“I know it is a difficult fight in my ward”, says Michael, alluding to the Tories 2018 loss in the ward, seeing Labour get double their votes.

“A few people are surprised that I am standing. I once got a comment from a local sitting councillor about the fact that I am ‘only a university student'.

“I don't pay too much attention to comments like that, if you care about your community, being a student shouldn't affect your ability.”

Michael is up against fellow Essex University student, Mark Kiley.

Mark, 20, will represent the Lib Dems, who performed even worse in this ward last year.

HK Norman, a 19-year-old running for the St Anne’s and St John’s seat for Labour, is another young candidate facing an uphill battle.

He said: “It would be nice if we were put into safe seats, but you rarely get people stepping down.

“Who knows? If I do well enough, I might win. If I don’t, they might put me in a winnable seat next time”

There is a lot to be said for youthful optimism though.

While out with Harry, a party member joked how hope had not been “beaten out of him” yet.

Harry to has had comments about his age: “Some people look surprised. Someone even say 'don’t forget about the old people'."

He admits he is unlikely to knock the council leader off his perch but he cannot be accused of being a "paper candidate", as his afternoon of canvassing proves.

He admits: “I know my chances don’t look good...I’m running because we couldn’t find anyone else.”

As the door-knocking comes to an end, Harry is stopped by a frustrated resident who makes her concerns known.

Brexit, austerity, library closures, even families facing eviction – this woman fears the local politicians don’t take enough notice of what’s going on.

“You lot”, referring to Labour, “need to be working with the other parties. Why can’t you work with the Greens, the Lib Dems?”

The back and forth continues for about ten minutes. The woman shares the stories of local families with young children struggling to pay rent and dependent on food banks, who haven’t heard a word from their councillors.

The conversation ends with him giving over his contact details and promising to do all he can.

The constituent seems satisfied that at least someone listened.

Harry and Co probably won’t win, not this time anyway, but they believe they can.

Whether blue, red, yellow or green, this is what politics need. Energy.

  • The other canidates in the Wivenhoe ward are Jodie Clark - Cons, Mark Cory - Lib Dem and John McArthur - Green. 
  • The candidates in Old Heath & The Hythe ward are Andrew Canessa - Green, Adam Fox - Lab, Mark Kiley - Lib Dem and Michael Mcdonnell - Cons.

For a full list of all candidates standing click here