There’s something about Mhairi
Chances are your proudest achievement to date is one of the following: your A-levels, your Tinder profile pic or the fact you escaped your hometown for uni and avoided turning into one of those “full-time mummys x” you used to go to school with. Sadly for you though, even your A* in Psychology doesn’t mark you out as particularly special.
To try and turn this around, you’d be forgiven for searching for a role model, a modern day princess like Taylor Swift who can show you how to behave and achieve greatness. If it’s a role model you’re after though, you should be looking no further than SNP firebrand Mhairi Black, the 20-year-old baby of the House of Commons.
Mhairi was seen recently partying in Glasgow after giving a ruthless yet inspirational maiden speech in Parliament – the clip of which has since been viewed more than 11 million times. This fantastic switch from putting the world to rights to throwing shapes on a sticky floor is what you should be looking for in a role model, and it’s exactly what we need from more people in the world.
In beating Labour heavyweight Douglas Alexander to the seat of Paisley and Renfrewshire South (one Douglas had held since 1997), Black became the youngest MP since 1663. As if that’s not impressive enough, she then completed her degree, getting a first in Politics and Public Policy from Glasgow uni, an achievement which required studying during her first few weeks in the Commons. Plus she’s been featured in Time magazine.
As well as being intelligent and head-strong, she’s also a relatively nice person. In her brief time in Parliament she’s already donated her salary increase to charities in her constituency and caused a ruckus by sitting with the kitchen staff in the canteen at lunch time. When quizzed about the latter by The Herald Scotland, she said the separate seating areas reminded her “of an episode of Friends where Joey can’t sit with Ross when he begins working as a tour guide in the museum because ‘blue coats don’t sit with white coats'”.
Unless you’re a straight, rich, middle-aged man, Mhairi is the most relatable human in the House of Commons at the minute. Despite this, she’s been chastised over and over again for tweets she posted back in 2010 at the age of just 15. Tweeting that “Maths is shite”, drinking WKDs and saying cunt have left many news outlets chastising the political newcomer, as if they expect her to have led a pre-planned, stage-managed life from a young age like the careerist politicians you learn about in your morning tutorial.
Besides, it’s Mhairi’s detractors who have been far more foul-mouth. Jill Stephenson, a former History prof at Edinburgh, called Mhairi a “foul-mouthed little slut” and her Wikipedia page was vandalised (she was described as “a lesbian (but not a fit one)”. Mhairi’s experiences show why so many young people, especially women and those who identify as LGBT, would be put off by the political world. The fact she can rise above this while still talking like a normal person is inspirational.
Whatever your political affiliation, Mhairi Black is a young, LGBT woman who is breaking down barriers and providing a refreshing change from the normal parade of suits. In a word where politicians are caricatures, whether it’s Iain Duncan Smith cheering or Ed Miliband giving you bedroom eyes to Careless Whisper, Mhairi Black MP is showing us there’s another way for politicians to reach young people and excite them. The sooner we have young girls wanting to grow up to be more like her, the better.