Gregah Roughead has had a taste of political life at three levels – local, regional and now international. All he needs to complete the set is national experience.
Becoming a Westminster MP is his ultimate goal, and Berwick’s teenage town councillor is doing whatever he can to learn his trade.
He has recently returned from Brussels, where he spent a week on work experience after being invited by north east MEP Fiona Hall.
The Liberal Democrat, who turned 19 this week, had already spent six months work-shadowing county councillor Jim Smith before he was elected onto Berwick Town Council to represent the St Boisil ward in Tweedmouth.
Now that he has sampled European politics too, he has more respect for the work done by our MEPs. With European Parliament elections coming up in May, he wants to persuade the electorate in Berwick to become engaged and cast their vote
“There is a general misperception among the public about the work done by our MEPs,” he said.
“They do far more than they ever get credit for. They shuttle between their constituencies at home, Brussels and Strasbourg. From what I could see, they get no time to themselves. I think European politics should be taken more seriously than it is perceived to be received.”
Although parliament wasn’t sitting when he was in Brussels, Councillor Roughead attended a green group meeting about seed biodiversity and also spent time working on press summaries for the Lib Dem office in Durham. “It was a worthwhile exercise to see how it works,” he said.
“The green group has a different perspective and the presentations were different to what I’m used to seeing as a Liberal Democrat, so it was useful.”
In addition to his role as a town councillor, the teenager is working towards an Open University law degree. He has done about 10 weeks of paid work, on an ad hoc basis, for Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith as part of his parliamentary staff working in the constituency. But he has not had the chance to get the inside track at Westminster yet. Ultimately, becoming a House of Commons MP remains his goal.
“Being involved in politics is a chance to make a positive change that the people want, he said. “You’ve got to engage with the people to find out what they want first, and obviously people have opposing views. But you’ve got to follow what is the best course of action for the community and for the majority.”