30 Under 30: Mhairi Black

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Mhairi Black speaks from a podium at the SNP Spring Conference in 2015

When it comes to inspiring young women in Scotland, 21 year old Mhairi Black is kind of our Beyoncé: she’s a total badass, she takes no shit, and if you don’t know who she is by now then we might be more than a little suspicious that you’re actually a time traveller.

Much like Beyoncé dropping a new album unexpected on a Wednesday night (okay we’ll stop with the Beyoncé comparisons), Mhairi caused an immediate sensation during the 2015 general election when she became the youngest Member of Parliament to be elected in centuries, but she told The Guardian that it was a pretty silly thing to get all hyped up about.

‘People keep asking me about my age. It’s the least interesting thing about me. I literally cannot help when I was born.’

Mhairi Black poses for a photograph with First Minister Nicola SturgeonFortunately, Mhairi has given us about a thousand other reasons to be inspired by her. She’s frank, she’s principled, she’s funny, she’s passionate, she’s grounded, and she isn’t afraid to call anyone out on their shit.

Talking to Mhairi for fifteen minutes, even just over the phone immediately gives you the impression that she would be the absolute best mate and the kind of person you definitely would want in your corner and not across the chamber from you (a little bit like Bey – sorry).

If you haven’t watched her maiden speech yet (how!?) do so asap. Whatever your politics, you can’t help but get goosebumps from her confidence and conviction alone. This is a then-20-year-old woman, speaking to a room full of older MPs, mostly men, some probably lovely but others no doubt arrogant and entitled. And she more than holds her own. ‘That genuinely is the time that I’m most relaxed and the most confident, actually,’ she told us.

‘I was quite often debating people who are older than me and had fancier words and things. I used to get intimidated by it, and then I thought “wait a minute, you’ve been talking for ten minutes and you’re actually saying nothing!” There’s only two things you need to succeed in anything, whether it be politics or getting through a school presentation or whatever, and that’s knowledge and confidence.’

Mhairi Black laughs with her 'adopted grannie' at Westfield Care Home in PaisleyIt’s a mindset that makes complete sense, of course, but one that many people – young women in particular – struggle with. But Mhairi says that the confidence comes naturally if you’ve put in a shift and done your homework: ‘You go, do you know what, I’ve really thought about this; I can tell you what I think and why I think it, and I can back it up with facts.’

Her directness and passion in politics might seem intimidating (especially if you have to face her down during a debate) but Mhairi is, without question, completely lovely, too.

She loves ‘dad music’ (proper choons), doesn’t like maths (same), used to work in a chip shop, and is a season ticket holder for Partick Thistle. Also she is queen of Twitter smackdowns.

Mhairi has always been open about the fact that she doesn’t see herself being a career politician, but whatever is up next for her we’re pretty damned sure it will be incredible.

 

 

You can follow Mhairi on Facebook or Twitter @MhairiBlack (you can watch her amazing smackdowns in real time!) Need to get in touch with her as your MP? Her surgery information and contact details are on her website.

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