Meet the 85-year-old standing for Parliament


At her stage of life, Doris Osen could be expected to take things easy, spend time with her grandchildren, and enjoy her retirement.

But fresh from celebrating her 85th birthday on Monday she is preparing for a new challenge - as a candidate in the general election.

Thought to be the country's oldest prospective MP, Mrs Osen is campaigning as an independent on a platform of reducing the national deficit and promoting the concerns of younger people.

And with 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, as well as 27 years' experience as a teacher in Redbridge, Essex, she is an expert on the concerns of the young.

A member of Bevis Marks Synagogue, where she has chaired committees in the past, Mrs Osen previously had no political ambitions but was inspired by her son's campaign as an independent in the 2010 election. He came seventh in Chingford and Woodford Green with 202 votes.

Mrs Osen is now taking on Ilford North's incumbent Conservative MP, Lee Scott, and his leading challenger, Labour's Wes Streeting.

"I had no intention of ever being a politician," she explained. "But I'm so unhappy with the way things are going, especially for the younger generation.

"My main policy is to reduce the deficit, because without a viable financial situation in the country we are not going to get anywhere. The government is cutting all the services. What they are not tackling is the cost of government itself.

"Young people cannot get on the housing ladder, they have poor pay, zero-hours contracts, and other problems with earning a decent living.

"I've seen the difficulties facing my grandchildren. They can't all afford to leave home because the cost of renting is enormous. It can be even more expensive than paying a mortgage sometimes.

"People are really struggling. I'm not going to live much longer but I feel for the younger generation."

Mrs Osen, who has been married for 59 years, said older people could play an active role in politics and give their time to help others.

She said: "We are the ones who can make a difference. The younger generation are too busy with their lives.

"I think Britain could learn a lot from grandmothers. We have the time, the energy, the intelligence and experience. We have been through so much in our lifetime."

The Chigwell resident, who counts Winston Churchill as her political hero, has already begun campaigning in the constituency, where 6.5 per cent of eligible voters are Jewish. She has given talks at her bridge and scrabble clubs, and said she was receiving a lot of support.

"Whenever I talk to people about politics they agree with me and nod along. I love it. I'm not exhausted. When I talk I stand up the whole time, I'm so energised," she said.

She said that campaigning had given her "a lot of enjoyment. I feel like I'm doing something worthwhile."

Mr Scott has a majority of 5,404 and Mrs Osen admitted she was "realistic" about her chances of becoming the country's oldest MP.

"I doubt I will keep my deposit, but miracles can happen."

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