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Everything you need to know about 20-year-old political powerhouse Mhairi Black


Mhairi Black has become the politician of the moment - for all the right reasons - after delivering an opposition speech to blitz all others before the House of Commons.

In one fell swoop, 20-year-old Black, the youngest MP in the Commons, tore apart the notion that age may be a barrier to conviction and gravitas, as she made her rousing maiden speech yesterday. 

The new SNP representative for Paisley and Renfrewshire South displayed the type of guts-and-glory attitude that is all too often missing in the turgid world of politics.

We're used to braying and fits of bad temper in the Commons but never the illuminating mix of authenticity, alacrity, humour and anger Black brought to the fore yesterday.

Scroll down to watch Mhairi's powerful speech in full

Noting that she had "stayed quiet and listened" in the first 10 weeks of her appointment, Black was clearly ready to make her voice heard on a number of issues. She first graciously paid tribute to Douglas Alexander, the longstanding Labour MP whom she ousted in May, with a funny little nod to her age ("...I was only three when he was elected").

Then she moved swiftly onto a blistering attack on the government's housing cuts.

Pointing out that the Chancellor George Osborne had just abolished housing benefit for anyone under 21, she quipped: "I'm the only 20-year-old in the whole of the UK that the Chancellor's prepared to help with housing."

The new politician also extended an olive branch to Labour, who suffered staggering losses at the hands of the SNP in May's General Election, saying "I reach out a genuine hand of friendship which I can only hope will be taken".

"Ultimately people are needing a voice, people are needing help, let’s give them it," she ended. 

The youngest MP in the Commons since the 17th Century finished her maiden speech to rapturous applause from her SNP colleagues, and a storm of public approval that quickly saw her name trending on Twitter. 

Mhairi Black

Mhairi Black

So who is the woman behind the words?

So who is this woman who's been catapulted into the spotlight courtesy of her powerful gift for speech? 

Black was born in her constituency of Paisley, in the west central Lowlands of Scotland, and has spent all her life there.

She is a big football fan and was one of the first girls in her Primary School to play for the school team. She's a die-hard supporter of Partick Thistle FC, the Scottish football club with a rather terrifying mascot. Her colourful tweets during matches caused a certain level of controversy once she was elected to run for the SNP (as did an ill thought-out comment about her Labour rivals). 

Black was politically motivated from a young age, joining marches for Scottish Parliament and against the Iraq war. Her interest in social justice has also found an outlet in her volunteer work for organisations such as Oxfam. Her retired teacher father Alan helped to foster her interests.

Black also joined The Margo Mobile campaign, where she experienced first-hand the poverty experienced by those living in the most deprived areas of Scotland. 

It was an eye-opening journey that prompted her to run as an SNP candidate, a battle that she took on with typical determination and a bullish spirit. "I want to change things, that’s what people are demanding. You can feel it bubbling – the frustration and the anger," she said at the time. 

Black was actually in her final year studying Politics and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow as she conducted her campaign, and a typical student, she had to be persuaded to trade her go-to jeans for the business suit attire of politics. 

"My mum insisted," said the 20-year-old. "We went shopping the minute I was selected."

Who knows what change this outspoken student football fan can bring about in the corridors of power in the years to come; we, for one, can't wait to see. Watch her brilliant speech, below.



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