At 20, Mhairi Black becomes Britain's youngest member of Parliament

Mhairi Black, 20, of the SNP, knocked a long-time politician from parliament in the British elections

She’s only 20, still studying for her final university exams and more accustomed to wearing jeans than suits.

But Mhairi Black of the Scottish National Party caused one of the biggest surprises in the British election Thursday by knocking a longtime Labor Party politician from his seat and becoming the youngest member of Parliament since 1667. 

Black was elected with 5,684 more votes than incumbent Douglas Alexander in a constituency that was considered a safe Labor seat. 

Her victory was part of the SNP's massive election success, with 56 Parliament members elected and the Labor Party’s support decimated in the north of Britain.

Black appealed to voters with her down-to-earth attitude, unpolished style and pledge to “pursue progressive politics.”

“Whether you voted for the SNP or not, and whatever your views are on Scotland’s future, I will seek to represent you and everyone in this constituency to the very best of my ability,” Black said after the election results were announced. “This election is about making the voice of this constituency and the whole of Scotland heard more effectively than ever before.”

Her rise to political fame has not been without its hiccups.

Soon after she was named as the SNP’s candidate for the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency, it was revealed that she was more than a little prone to sounding off on social media.

In one old tweet, she blasted the Celtic soccer club, which was taking on her favorite Partick Thistle team, and included a profanity.

She has also used social media to espouse her love of Smirnoff Ice, calling it “the drink of gods” and described waking up one morning “beside half a can of Tennents and a full pizza and more money than I came out with.” She added,“I call that a success." 

At the rally after Scotland voted against independence from the United Kingdom, she was caught on camera describing how she had to walk past “all these fatcat Labor councilors” who were offering their commiserations and clapping sarcastically.

“It took everything, every fibre in my being, not to put the nut in one of them,” she said.

Nevertheless, she managed to ride those political storms as “daft comments” and unseat Alexander, one of the big names in the Labor Party and a former shadow foreign secretary.

The election results makes her the youngest person to become a member of Parliament since Christopher Monck, 2nd Duke of Albemarle, who was 13 when he was elected in 1667.

Aside from setting her sights on Westminster, the self-confessed political “geek” is a keen musician. She plays the drums and piano and is a fan of Bob Dylan.

When asked in an interview recently what her favorite Dylan song was, she replied with a grin, “The Times They Are A-Changin.’”

Boyle is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
81°