JAMES Wilder, 26, running as the Labour candidate for Newbury, is a teacher and a football coach. While it’s tiring teaching and campaigning, he is ‘relishing it as well’. He said: “It’s really exciting, you don’t get a minute to stop.”

He was only selected a few weeks ago, but teaches locally, and was born and raised in Dunston Park, a council estate in Thatcham. His campaign is focusing on education: “The wings of this generation have been clipped by austerity cuts.”

He said: “As a teacher, you have to adapt to so many different people, with so many different complex stories. Many young people in our school have issues at home, or feel disconnected from their community, and I see first-hand the impacts that has on their lives, their educational attainment, and being able to achieve what they can achieve.”

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Fewer teaching assistants and larger classes — he averages about 30 pupils in each lesson — mean less individualised teaching and help for children ‘who need a bit of extra help’. He said it’s harder to find teachers, who are having to teach more hours and not get as much planning time because of the cuts to staffing and school budgets.

“We need more time to plan lessons, we need to feel supported, we need those resources to maximise their education, we need teaching assistants to help us with bigger class sizes. There should be smaller class sizes, which under Labour’s plan there would be.”

According to the Social Mobility Commission, West Berkshire is one of the worst places for social mobility in the country. And the council’s budget for youth services has been cut by 97 per cent since 2010.

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He said a lot of people on the council estate where he grew up ‘feel disconnected from their community’ and get involved in antisocial behaviour. He describes a ‘vicious cycle of low educational attainment, lack of employment opportunities, antisocial behaviour, and getting involved in the wrong kind of environment’.

“You need those youth services and outreach programmes to go out and try to bring them back in. It’s about giving people opportunities, restoring youth services, giving young people an education that allows them to flourish and succeed.”

While disagreeing with tactical voting, he accepts Newbury is ‘traditionally a Conservative area’. He said the voting system needs to be ‘fundamentally reformed’, including giving votes to 16 and 17-year-olds.

“Democracy works best when, if you like what someone or a political party says, then you should vote for it.”

He said Labour’s vision is more ‘socially transformative’ than the Greens and Liberal Democrats. “The Lib Dems are co-authors of austerity, so they need to take some responsibility for that.”

Mr Wilder didn’t say which way he would campaign in a second Brexit referendum, until he has seen Labour’s renegotiated deal. He said in previous referendums, prime ministers have remained neutral to ‘have the credibility to fulfil the public decision’.

The Tories’ deal ‘doesn’t protect workers’ rights’ and would take years to negotiate new trade deal, whereas Labour’s renegotiated deal would protect small businesses and workers’ rights.

He said Brexit happened because of people feeling disenfranchised, wage stagnation, and poor living standards. “This was their way of taking it out on the establishment, and then they brought in this rhetoric that it’s the fault of immigrants.”

MPs living in their own constituency is ‘absolutely essential’ and Newbury is the only place he would ever run. “You should be at the forefront of your community, you should be at the heart of it. We’re not here just to be whipped into line by a party’s HQ, we’re here to be members of parliament for Newbury.”

It’s a misconception that Labour is all about higher taxes, Mr Wilder said. “There’s only a slight increase to the top five per cent of earners. What you get in return for the taxes will be a quality national education service, quality healthcare with waiting times reduced.”

Keir Starmer has supported him, as well as Andrew Adonis, former transport minister, who is endorsing one of Mr Wilder’s policy proposals: reopening the railway line from Southampton to Oxford, through Newbury. The plan would decongest the A34, increase connectivity, help trade and the climate, he said.

He is campaigning to reopen Newbury football ground, and said West Berkshire Council is legally required to provide playing spaces for community sport. “As a member of parliament, I would do anything I can to protect local playing services and opportunities for young and older people to play sport. They want to turn it into luxury flats but also there’s a threat of them doing that to other spaces in West Berkshire.”

He said: “It’s a disgrace how austerity has cut away at the key social foundations of our community over the last 10 years. If enough people get behind the campaign and we drive the key messages through, then we can do it and we can create that change.”