FUTURE MP?: Kiyingi with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg (left)
AT AGE 20, Yahaya Kiyingi is one of the Liberal Democrats’ fastest rising young stars.
The political aspirant has caught the eye of top politicians such as Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and his deputy Simon Hughes and will become the youngest ever parliamentary candidate, if all goes as he hopes.
He will also become the party’s first African MP if he wins his fight for a north London seat in 2015.
In fact, Kiyingi became an approved parliamentary candidate even before he was eligible to vote – and he already has a keen idea of policies he wants to reform if he gets elected.
Among them is the issue of stop and search.
“I have experienced it [stop and search] and I was humiliated by the whole experience,” Kiyingi, a Politics and International Relations student, told The Voice.
He recalled: “I was riding my bicycle and the police told me to get off it. They said they wanted to search me. They obviously found nothing but I was left embarrassed and humiliated.”
The Southampton University student, who is to stand for parliamentary election in a north London seat in 2015, said that episode has made him more determined to campaign to “repeal or reform” the controversial power. Under section 60 of the Public Order Act, it allows police to stop and search people without suspicion.
“It does not work in its present form,” says Kiyingi, who came to the UK from Uganda as a four-year-old with his family.
His father was a political exile but was wary of his decision to take an active role in politics so the subject was never talked about at home. But Kiyingi was still curious and set out to learn as much as he could.
He recalls: “I studied the political background of all the three main parties…then I went ahead and proceeded to choose the party that had policies that matched my ideology and that was the Lib Dem.”
He is one of the Lib Dem’s few black members and commentators have said Kiyingi could raise Nick Clegg’s hopes of increasing support for the party among black and ethnic minority (BME) voters.
The party currently has no black MPs despite having Britain’s first ethnic minority MP, who was Asian, in 1892.
Kiyingi has come up through the ranks, from being a local volunteer for London’s Brent Central MP Sarah Teather to becoming chairman of Brent’s Lib Dem youth branch.
He said: “I volunteered for a year and a half unpaid. I went to the office to help with the campaign and she [Teather] noticed it. So when the opportunity came that the party was introducing a leadership programme, she actually recommended me to the party headquarters and said ‘this guy looks like he is promising’.”
He added: “I didn’t really go out for political aspiration. I only wanted to make a difference to my community but then when that [the leadership programme] came about and she said go for it, as it was a good opportunity, I applied and I got through.”
Since then, he has not only met Clegg but also movers and shakers including former US president Bill Clinton and broadcast legend Trevor McDonald.
Kiyingi adds that he wants to become a voice of change. “I want to encourage an entire generation. I want them to know there is a place for them no matter where they come from,” he says. “I had a duty to show that the glass ceiling can be broken.”