Mhairi Black

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Person.png Mhairi Black   Powerbase WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Mhairi Black1.jpg
UK's youngest Member of Parliament
Born12 September 1994
Paisley, Renfrewshire, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow
ReligionRoman Catholicism
PartyScottish National Party
Scottish National Party MP in London

Employment.png MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South

In office
7 May 2015 - Present

Mhairi Black is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician. She has been the Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South since 7 May 2015, when she defeated Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.[1]

In a highly acclaimed maiden speech to the House of Commons on 14 July 2015[2], Mhairi Black launched a scathing attack on the Conservative Government and presented an olive branch to the Labour Party. Her speech concluded:

"After hearing the Labour leader’s intentions to support the changes of tax credits that the Chancellor has put forward, I must make this plea to the words of one of your own and a personal hero of mine. Tony Benn once said that in politics there are weathercocks and sign posts. Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them, no matter what principle they may have to compromise. And then there are signposts, signposts which stand true, and tall, and principled. And they point in the direction and they say this is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why. Tony Benn was right when he said the only people worth remembering in politics were signposts.
"Now, yes we will have political differences, yes in other parliaments we may be opposing parties, but within this chamber we are not. No matter how much I may wish it, the SNP is not the sole opposition to this Government, but nor is the Labour party. It is together with all the parties on these benches that we must form an opposition, and in order to be effective we must oppose not abstain. So I reach out a genuine hand of friendship which I can only hope will be taken. Let us come together, let us be that opposition, let us be that signpost of a better society. Ultimately people are needing a voice, people are needing help, let’s give them it."[3][4][5]

Early life and views

Born in Paisley in 1994, Mhairi Black was educated at Lourdes Secondary School, Glasgow, and the University of Glasgow, where she was awarded a First-class honours degree in Politics and Public Policy in June 2015.[6][7] At the time of her election, she was still to complete her undergraduate degree with a final exam on Scottish Politics still to be undertaken.

Black has been an active Twitter user since she was 14. Several of her tweets included swearing; she also tweeted about her drinking and partying experiences and an incident where she complained about the behaviour of Celtic Football Club fans. These tweets came under scrutiny during her campaign, but as most of them were a few years old they were generally ascribed to immaturity and did not appear to do any significant damage.[8][9][10]

Along with other LGBT MPs from the SNP, she expressed her support for marriage equality prior to the referendum in Ireland. Asked about her decision to "come out", she replied "I've never been in".[11][12]

Mhairi Black "is not religious but reads her Bible", and her political inspirations include Keir Hardie and Margo MacDonald.[13] She is a supporter and season-ticket holder of Partick Thistle F.C.[14]

Black describes herself as a "traditional socialist" and cites Tony Benn as her enduring political hero.[15]

Political career

Mhairi Black became a Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South in the 2015 general election while still a final year undergraduate student at the University of Glasgow.[16] Black is the current 'Baby of the House' as the youngest member in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.[17] When elected in May 2015, she was 20 years and 237 days old, making her the youngest MP elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom since at least the Reform Act of 1832, replacing James Dickson who was 21 years and 67 days old when elected in 1880.[18]

Although she was reported to be the youngest MP since Christopher Monck, Earl of Torrington, who entered the House of Commons at the age of 13 in 1667, Monck was followed by other teenagers until the Parliamentary Elections Act 1695 established 21 as the minimum age of candidacy.[19] Furthermore, until the Reform Act 1832, underage MPs were seldom unseated, with Viscount Jocelyn being 18 when elected in 1806.[20][21] Since the Electoral Administration Act 2006 reduced the age of candidacy from 21 to 18 years, Black is the first person to be elected under its provisions.[22]

On 1 July 2015, it was announced that Black had been appointed to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.[23] She made her maiden speech on 14 July 2015 which criticised high unemployment in her constituency and the growing need for food banks, she said, “Food banks are not part of the Welfare State. They are a sign that the Welfare State is failing.”[24] Black also criticised the government over cuts to housing benefit.[25]


  2. "The 20-year-old 'Baby of the House' delivers her maiden speech"
  3. "Mhairi Black maiden speech in full: SNP MP tears apart Conservative Government and Labour opposition"
  4. "Mhairi Black's first speech: Five things we learned"
  5. "The New Normal – Mhairi’s Maiden"
  8. May 2015
  20. of Commons 1790–1820: III. The Members|year=1986|work=History of Parliament Online
  25. SNP's Mhairi Black attacks housing benefit cuts in first Commons speech

External links

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