Mhairi Black became the youngest MP for 350 years when she was elected as MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South back in 2015. Her relative youth, passion and ambition meant she was hailed as a breath of fresh air who would shake up the overwhelmingly “male and stale” establishment and engage a new generation in politics.
However, the now 22-year old admitted this weekend that she “hates” Parliament, finds it “depressing” that so little gets done and might not stand for a second term. “It has been nearly two years and I still hate the place,” she told the Sunday Post. “It is depressing. It is the personal elements – it is a pain to come up and down every week and you are working with a number of people you find quite troubling.
“Professionally, it is more just that so little gets done. It is so old and defunct in terms of its systems and procedures – a lot of the time, it is just a waste of time.” When asked directly if she was planning on seeking reelection, Black said she didn’t know. “I think you should only stand in politics if you think there is a need for you to be in it,” she added.
Black didn’t seem worried about her own professional future, though, telling the newspaper she has “a habit of falling into things. I fell into university, fell into this and have fallen into most jobs I’ve had.”
She may not realise it, but the disillusioned Scottish National Party MP has made quite an impact in the two years since she entered the Commons, and Parliament would be far less interesting without her. Here are some of her best moments so far.
When her maiden speech broke the internet
Black's first speech in Parliament – made when she was still a third-year politics student, might we add – was an absolute corker and went viral on social media, racking up millions of views in the first few days alone. She took on both Labour and the Tories, attacked benefit sanctions and stood up for young people.
"In this Budget the Chancellor also abolished any housing benefit for anyone below the age of 21," she said. "So we are now in the ridiculous situation whereby, because I am an MP, not only am I the youngest but also I am the only 20-year-old in the whole of the UK that the Chancellor is prepared to help with housing."
When her oh-so-relatable drunken tweets cropped up
Shortly after Black won her seat, journalists (unsurprisingly) took a deep dive through her old social media posts – and the result was hilarious. "Maths is shite," read one no-nonsense teenage tweet. “Woke up beside half a can of Tennents and a full pizza and more money than I came out with. I call that a success!” was a stand-out tweet that has since been deleted. It also turned out she was once an alcopop fan: "Smirnoff Ice is the drink of gods - I cannae handle this c--- man!" Her love of Ice didn't do her any harm though, did it?
When she took a passionate stance against nuclear weapons
Black's brief but powerful speech explaining why she voted against renewing Trident (the holding of nuclear weapons on British submarines) put other MPs' efforts to shame. The MP, known for her fervent anti-austerity stance, gave an emotive address in which she said nuclear missiles would only be fired after we had already been fired upon. "That would mean that we were all dead anyway," she added. "If I am dying, I do not care if we send a weapon back; I am more worried about the one that is coming towards me."
She then outlined what her own priorities would be, slamming the government over the fact "that we cannot afford to look after the disabled, we cannot afford to look after our unemployed and we cannot afford to pay pensions on time."
When she criticised Westminster’s “silly traditions”
Soon after her election, she gave a relatable interview with The Times Magazine, in which she chided Parliament for its "silly traditions". "So you're not allowed to clap like an ordinary person, but you're allowed to bray like a donkey?" she said of the House of Commons' no clapping rule. "I mean, see PMQs, especially the Conservative side, they've got this weird noise they do. It actually sounds like a drunken mob."
Black defended her party's behaviour in the Commons, saying they weren't being deliberately rebellious. "It's the same with a lot of these silly traditions. Quite often, we challenge them because we're oblivious to them, because they're so ridiculous. Any normal person would be like 'What?'" Too right.
When she told a Tory minister where to go
Just last week, Black was caught standing her ground in a – shall we say – characteristically passionate way in the Commons. During a parliamentary session on a government proposal to withdraw housing benefits for 18-21-year-olds, footage showed her appearing to mutter under her breath, “you talk s***e hen” to a Conservative minister. We couldn't have put it better ourselves.