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Ben Lake: The Politician

At 27 Ben Lake is one of the youngest MPs at Westminster, we catch up with him on his work as the spokesperson for rural affairs for Plaid Cymru.

Ben Lake
Ben Lake

Why politics?

 

I’d always had a bit of an interest in politics in so far as keeping an eye on the news or reading through the paper, but I was not very political.

 

It was only after finishing University and coming home to Wales my interest developed. I saw my area was not receiving the same funding and policy treatment compared to more urban areas.

 

During the snap election of 2017, Plaid Cymru offered me the chance to run in my constituency as I had shown interest in the party, so I took the chance.

 

My county loses a lot of young people who move to cities and it became one of my main campaign issues.

 

A lot of my friends and people want to be able to stay in rural areas but opportunities for work draw them into the big cities.


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Why are you interested in the environment, food and rural affairs?

 

As soon as I took up the seat and travelled to Westminster I knew I wanted to be the spokesperson for rural affairs and to be a member of the Welsh affairs select committee.

 

I was fortunate Plaid Cymru were happy for me to take both of those roles but I was very clear the reason I stood for office was to maintain vibrant rural communities.

 

I was keen to promote agriculture as an industry because it is so important for the economy of rural areas to keep bringing solid investment.

 

I was lucky to be brought up in a rural area and so experienced first-hand the benefits is being in such a community offers a young person.

 

You have an abundance of fresh air and opportunities to explore, making friends, making tree houses all a young child does.

 

That rural community spirit is still alive and kicking offers a level of support for young people.

Why is agriculture important?

 

Agriculture plays such an important role in broader society and the economy but it is often overlooked.

 

Politicians need to understand how agriculture produces the food we need and without this we are in serious trouble.

 

When we are looking at protecting the environment, our climate and the food we eat the answers are found in rural areas and rural communities.

 

Why should teenagers care about a career in agriculture?

 

Many of us want a job that has a purpose and a meaning in life and agriculture can offer this.

 

Yes, it can be hard work but there is a special satisfaction you get that I believe you don’t from sitting at a desk all day.

 

People have this incorrect idea agriculture is old-fashioned and farmers wear a straw hat and hold a pitchfork.

 

There are a lot of exciting opportunities for skilled and talented people within agriculture in computing and engineering.

 

I have been to a few farms with parlours which look like the set of a Star Wars film with the incredible tech they use.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

 

It is the sense of pure joy when you are able to help a person solve a problem; it is the best feeling in the world.

 

It does not happen every day but it gives a lot of meaning and makes everything worthwhile.

 

What happens in a working week?

 

I travel between home and Westminster.

 

I like to do my own research and write my own speeches so if I say anything wrong it is my fault and nobody else’s!

 

People can come to my office and talk to me about the issues they are worried about and I do house visits for those who can’t make it.

 

I put in a lot of work visiting schools and youth groups because I try to instil a sense of pride for their area and tell them they have got a lot to look forward to in Ceredigion.

 

Do you have any free time to do things you enjoy?

 

Sunday tends to be the day I try to keep free in the diary either just to see friends and family or if there are urgent needs to be addressed.

 

I love playing football and cricket and I miss having the time to play properly and commit to training, now I play the occasional charity game I can manage.

 

Did you know?

Ben was awarded the ‘Politician to Watch’ prize as part of the ITV Welsh Politician of the Year Awards 2017 and last year was nominated for the MP of the Year Award, acknowledging MPs who actively work with under-represented and disadvantaged communities across the UK.

 

Follow Ben

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