Mhairi Black

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Mhairi Black
Mhairi Black MP - official photo 2017.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Paisley and Renfrewshire South
Assumed office
8 May 2015
Preceded by Douglas Alexander
Majority 2,541 (6.1%)
Personal details
Born (1994-09-12) 12 September 1994 (age 24)
Paisley, Scotland
Political party Scottish National Party
Alma mater University of Glasgow

Mhairi Black MP (/ˈmɑːr/,[i] born 12 September 1994) is a Scottish politician. She has been the SNP Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire South since 2015, when she defeated Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander.[1] She was re-elected in June 2017.[2]

Black is the current Baby of the House as the youngest member in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.[3] When elected in May 2015, she was 20 years and 237 days old, making her the youngest ever Member of Parliament (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.[4]

Early life and views[edit]

Born in Paisley in 1994, 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.[3][5][6] At the time of her election on 8 May 2015, she had not yet completed her undergraduate degree, with a final exam on Scottish politics still to be undertaken.[7]

Along with other LGBT MPs from the SNP, she expressed her support for same-sex marriage prior to the referendum in Ireland. Asked about her decision to "come out", she replied "I've never been in".[8][9]

Black describes herself as a "traditional socialist" citing Tony Benn as her enduring political hero.[10] Her other political inspirations include Keir Hardie and Margo MacDonald.[11] According to The Tablet she is a Catholic.[12]

She is a supporter and season-ticket holder of Partick Thistle.[13] She plays the piano, as was revealed in a Channel 4 News interview with Jon Snow, on 18 September 2015, during which she played theme music from the film Titanic.[14]

Black has been an active user of social networking site Twitter since she was fourteen years old. Several of her tweets were brought up after her election which included swearing, drinking and partying, and an incident in which she complained about the behaviour of Celtic supporters.[15]

Political career[edit]

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] Her defeat of Douglas Alexander, a Labour MP and Shadow Foreign Secretary, has been described as unexpected and an example of a collapse of popularity for the Labour Party in Scotland at the 2015 election.[17]

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.[18] Furthermore, until the Reform Act 1832, underage MPs were seldom unseated, with Viscount Jocelyn being 18 when elected in the 1806 general election.[19][20] 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.[21]

Black at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protest in Paisley Cross, 2016

On 1 July 2015, it was announced that Black had been appointed to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.[22] She made her maiden speech on 14 July 2015 and this included some criticism of the government's approach to 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 symbol that the welfare state is failing."[23] Black also criticised the government over cuts to housing benefit.[24] Her speech was praised by SNP Parliamentary Group Leader, Angus Robertson, who described it as outstanding, principled and passionate.[25] Within five days of her giving this speech, it had been viewed over 10 million times on various media.[25] Black was later made aware of the change in the state pension through her constituents,[26] and has since endorsed Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) on several occasions.[27][28]

Black is a longstanding critic of Westminster. Two months after her election, she commented that the practice of making MPs vote in person, instead of electronically, was "outdated and wasted time".[29] In a 2016 interview with Owen Jones, Black labelled Westminster as an "old boys' club" and "so excluded from reality", while expressing concern about the arrogance and sexism from other MPs.[30]

In 2017, Black considered not standing for a second term in the next general election on the basis that "so little gets done".[31] Despite this, Black decided to stand at the 2017 general election and was re-elected with a much smaller majority.[32][2] She told BBC Scotland that she's "glad to be re-elected to go back down and continue to batter into whoever is in government that austerity is not working, it's not benefiting people's lives whatsoever. The people it is benefiting, you could argue, are the ones who need it least."[33]

In September 2017, Black was placed at Number 77 in 'The 100 Most Influential People on the Left' by commentator Iain Dale - a fall of 18 places on the previous year, which Dale attributed to the view that: "Her second year in Parliament has been quieter than her first."[34]


Black is strongly critical of the government over Universal Credit, she maintains delays in payment have serious effects on claimants and loans must be paid back later. Black said in Parliament that the government were like a, ‘pious loan shark – except that instead of coming through your front door they are coming after your mental health, your physical well-being, your stability, your sense of security – that is what the experience is for all of our constituents’. She added, ‘Plunging people into debt does not incentivise work, forcing people into hunger does not incentivise work, causing anxiety and distress and even evicting some families from their homes does not incentivise work.’[35]


^ Black's forename is a Scottish Gaelic form of 'Mary'. In Gaelic, this name is Màiri [maːɾʲɪ] in the nominative case but a Mhàiri [ə'vaːɾʲɪ] in the vocative case, of which Mhairi is a borrowing (similar to the borrowing of Seumas (James) as Hamish via the Gaelic vocative a Sheumais [ə'heːmɪʃ]). However, Black says that her name is a homophone of the word "marry".[36] /ˈmɑːri/ was the pronunciation chosen by Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing on the occasion of her maiden speech.[37]


  1. ^ "General Election 2015 Results: Paisley & Renfrewshire South". BBC News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Young, Gregor (8 June 2017). "Mhairi Black defies exit poll odds by holding Paisley & Renfrewshire South". The National. 
  3. ^ a b Lusher, Adam (8 May 2015). "General Election 2015: Mhairi Black: The 20-year-old who could become the youngest MP since 1667". The Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Furness, Hannah (8 May 2015). "Election 2015 results: the weird, wonderful and the downright unexpected". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Leask, David (1 June 2015). "Analysis: SNP bucks trend for privately educated MPs". The Herald. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Mhairi Black awarded first class honours degree". BBC News. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "Youngest MP Mhairi Black to finish degree despite historic victory". STV. 8 May 2015. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (14 May 2015). "Commons has more gay MPs than any other parliament in the world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Dinwoodie, Robbie (21 May 2015). "Time to toast our increasingly tolerant society". The Herald. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Gander, Kashmira (15 July 2015). "Mhairi Black speech in full". The Independent. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Spiers, Graham (1 May 2015). "Graham Spiers Article for the Times". Mhairi Black SNP: Paisley & Renfrewshire South. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Mhairi Black MP". Scottish National Party. Archived from the original on 8 May 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn is England's answer to the SNP – Mhairi Black". Channel 4 News. 18 September 2015. Retrieved 17 September 2015. 
  15. ^ Cramb, Auslan; Correspondent, Scottish; 2015, video source ITN 2:51AM BST 08 May (2015-05-08). "Meet Mhairi Black, Britain's youngest MP for 350 years, and an SNP firebrand". Retrieved 2018-04-27. 
  16. ^ McKirdy, Euan (8 May 2015). "UK Elections: Mhairi Black, the 20-year-old who's Britain's youngest lawmaker". CNN. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben; Sanghani, Radhika. "Mhairi Black reveals she is getting patted on the back and 'patronised' in House of Commons". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Meet the youngest MP elected since 1667". Newsbeat. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "House of Commons 1790–1820: III. The Members". History of Parliament Online. 1986. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Porritt, Edward; Porritt, Annie Gertrude (Webb) (1903). "XI:Minors and aliens on the exclusion list". The unreformed House of Commons; parliamentary representation before 1832. 1: England and Wales. Cambridge University Press. pp. 222–235. 
  21. ^ Lee, Jeremy (8 May 2015). "10 things about Mhairi Black, Britain's youngest MP since 1667". The Straits Times. Singapore. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Youngest MP Mhairi Black joins pensions committee". BBC News. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  23. ^ "Mhairi Black makes maiden speech in the Commons". The Scotsman. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  24. ^ Brooks, Libby (15 July 2015). "SNP's Mhairi Black attacks housing benefit cuts in first Commons speech". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "Mhairi Black's maiden speech tops 10m online views". BBC News. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  26. ^ Jones, Rupert (9 January 2016). "Women's state pension age rise: an unfair burden or a necessary reform?". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  27. ^ Hartley, Eve (29 June 2016). "Mhairi Black Makes Impromptu Speech Pleading For State Pension Equality". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  29. ^ Williams, Martin (25 July 2015). "Mhairi Black criticises Westminster's outdated traditions". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  30. ^ Jones, Owen; Sich, Adam (17 March 2016). "Mhairi Black: 'Westminster is a totally defunct, sexist institution' – video interview". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  31. ^ Wearmouth, Rachel (12 March 2016). "SNP MP Mhairi Black on 'hating' being at Westminster, age comments and why she might not stand for re-election". The Sunday Post. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  32. ^ Howarth, Angus (18 April 2017). "Mhairi Black confirms she will stand in General Election". The Scotsman. Retrieved 19 April 2017. 
  33. ^ Carrell, Severin (June 9, 2017). "SNP suffers shock losses as Tories oust Salmond and Robertson". The Guardian. 
  34. ^ Dale, Iain (25 September 2017). "The 100 Most Influential People On The Left: Iain Dale's 2017 List". LBC. Retrieved 2017-11-08. 
  35. ^ Mhairi Black calls government ‘pious loan sharks’ in blistering speech on Universal Credit
  36. ^ Black, Mhairi [@MhairiBlack] (23 April 2015). "@PeterAdamSmith @JournoStephen it's pronounced M-hairi, as in 'marry'. Mum went for the complicated spelling!" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  37. ^ Mhairi Black: SNP MP's maiden speech in full. Channel 4 News. 14 July 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Douglas Alexander
Member of Parliament
for Paisley and Renfrewshire South

Preceded by
Pamela Nash
Baby of the House