Mhairi Black M.P.: What would YOU do if your first speech was watched by 10 million people?
A few weeks ago I posted the Scottish news that 16 and 17-year-olds will be voting next May for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections. As noted, next year will be a big year in Scottish politics, potentially including an up or down vote on whether Scotia should schedule a second independence referendum. Over 100,000 16 and 17-year-olds stepped into the voting booth nearly one year ago to register their vote in the Indy referendum. They voted overwhelmingly in favor of Scottish independence. They lost that election but they won the right to make their suffrage permanent. It must be an exciting time to be young in Scotland.
Exercising the vote is only one way that Scottish youth are stepping up their impact in Scotland. There are leaders among them who are not content only to vote for others to lead the nation. Young people like twenty-year-old Mhairi Black are intent on becoming leaders themselves. She undertook her campaign in last spring’s United Kingdom General Election in order to become the next Minister of Parliament from Paisley/Renfrewshire South. To the surprise of many, Mhairi succeeded in that project and she took her seat at Westminster and graduated from the University of Glasgow all in one exciting year.
In the U.K. Parliament they call your first speech on the floor of the House of Commons your “maiden speech”. Mhairi Black, M.P. made hers on July 14, 2015. So far, the speech has had over 10,000,000 views on YouTube. Over 10 Million views. Watch it here.
Mhairi is the youngest British lawmaker in over a century. She is fresh faced, confident and energetic and a serious contributor. She is a member of the SNP that unseated a major British political figure – former Shadow Foreign Secretary and Labour icon Douglas Alexander to take over the paisley seat. While Mhairi’s campaign might have been seen as a youthful training mission in the beginning, it did not take long for Ms. Black to acquit herself on the hustings. She is thoughtful and articulate. Ultimately, she proved way too much for the career politician she opposed who agreed himself that the campaign had been run at a consistently high level and yielded a fair result.
Mhairi Black may be the youngest Scottish MP and the one capturing most of the world’s attention at present, but Scotland’s entire profile is a very young one. With an average age of 46, Scotland’s 59 MPs are the youngest of all the nations in the U.K. There is no question that Scotland’s “next generation” is not at all timid about their duty and opportunity to take up their share of the burden of democratic representation. This is a great introduction to young Mhairi Black, M.P., speaking recently at a commemoration hosted by the wonderful heritage group The Society For William Wallace. Mhairi reminds the crowd in this clip why remembering ancestors like William Wallace is important to us all. It is also worth noting that Mhairi carefully points out that she did not learn about Wallace in her primary school education. But she was fortunate enough to have learned her heritage from her parents and she clearly has an appreciation for it.