People

3rd October 2008 at 01:00

Anyone who feared that the UK Youth Parliament lacked teeth can rest easy - at least as long as Oliver Rowlinson remains a member.

The representative from Kent took his moment at last week's Labour conference to harangue schools minster Jim Knight during a fringe meeting.

With Paxmanesque disdain, Oliver demanded to know why the National Challenge had such "stupid criteria".

With any slumbering delegates now paying full attention, Oliver turned his ire to what he saw as dodgy qualifications.

"The Mickey Mouse GCSEs need to be scrapped," he barked.

A look at Oliver's Youth Parliament profile page perhaps gives a hint as to why he was so strong in his condemnation. The ambition of the 16-year- old is to be a Tory prime minister. And he names the public figure he admires most as Michael Howard, the former Conservative leader.

Mr Knight did not seem impressed, saying he would respond to another question first "before I weigh into Oliver".

And weigh in he did. "Young people are working hard and better every year," he told him. "We should celebrate that rather than labelling them Mickey Mouse."

Oliver seemed unimpressed. When Mr Knight had finished his response, he walked out.

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