Getting to know you: Liam Kerr MSP
Liam Kerr tells Holyrood that he’s not massively concerned about his appearance, provided you don’t mention his teeth, his hair or the cut of his suit
What were you like at school?
I had hair down to my shoulders, a clothes palate that was basically black, a disgusting 15-a-day habit and a Kevin the Teenager attitude. I’m sure people would have described me as delightful.
Do you ever think of resurrecting that look for parliament?
I don’t think I have enough hair left.
Who would be you dream dinner date?
(Adopts Michael Caine voice) Michael Caine. I think he’s immense. My favourite film is either Get Carter, the early Ipcress series, and I quite liked Harry Brown.
What is your greatest fear?
Three weeks ago, I was riding up the A90, the back wheel locked up and I went into a skid. Fortunately it had been raining quite hard and the road wasn’t that busy so I skidded safely, kinda, into a layby. That happening again is pretty close to my greatest fear.
Why would drive at 70mph with nothing but a leather jacket and knee pads to protect you?
The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance describes being on a bike as being part of what is going on around you, whereas in a car, you’re much more insulated. There are people that will thrash it but I wouldn’t be one of those ever, because frankly, I don’t want to die.
What is your most treasured possession?
I think it would be my grandma...
No, my grandma is not my most treasured possession, although that is probably close. My grandma was a runner for the Hatton Garden jewellery trade before the war, so her job was to move precious stones around the market. She has given me some precious stones and said that when my daughter is old enough, she will be able to fashion the stones into a piece of jewellery, I guess as something to remember her by.
How many children do you have?
One. A six-year-old girl.
Is there anything you would change about your appearance?
I’m not massively concerned about my appearance, but I could probably do with getting my teeth corrected at some point. I famously tried to have them whitened a few months ago and it appears to have caused one of them to die, which was extremely unpleasant and very painful.
You paid the price of vanity?
Yes. You will find more depth in a shallow pond than you will in me.
How about more hair so you can rock the teenage goth look again?
No, the goth look will never come back. It should be locked in a box and kept there.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Online chess. Perhaps unfortunately, and my wife certainly thinks so, I play it pretty much constantly.
Some people see chess as an analogy for politics with the need to think several moves ahead. Is that why you like it?
I wish I had the intelligence to have thought of that.
It’s a very shrewd piece of analysis, but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about it in that much detail.
What skill should every person have?
Probably an ability to empathise and connect with people. Certainly since coming into Holyrood, it has become very clear that I don’t have all the answers, people don’t have all the answers to all the problems, but if one has an ability to empathise and understand then one has the ability to find a solution.
What is the worst pain you have experienced?
A long time ago I used to play rugby, and in one match somebody basically jumped on me and snapped my collarbone. Having not really broken anything before, I stood up for the next scrum. The scrum got down and there was an almighty heave that slammed my broken collarbone up against the prop. That is probably the worst pain, and the loudest curse that anyone in Edinburgh has ever uttered.
What is your top film or TV show of all time?
Withnail and I.
Are we back to your 15-year-old chain-smoking years again?
It came out around the time when I was discovering the world and I’ve never seen it bettered. I met Richard E Grant a couple of years ago and he was just like that in real life, which was delightful.
Has it had any influence on your politics?
I couldn’t possibly comment.
What was the last book that you read?
I’m ashamed to say it was a book called British Rail: The Nation’s Railway.
Okaaay! Did you enjoy it?
Haha! Yeah, good luck riffing on that one.
I got nuthin!
I did enjoy it, actually. Perhaps famously, I have a bit of a thing for trains.
What was your best holiday ever?
I’ve had some fantastic holidays in the likes of Morocco and Kenya. Togo and Benin was a particularly good one. I’ve had a number of holidays in Houston having been in or around the oil industry for a number of years in Aberdeen with a lot of friends who have moved to Houston. In the current context of what is going on (with the flooding), Houston is very much in my mind, and I hope everyone is alright.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Probably the summer of 1992. I was working in the Café Royal in Edinburgh, I had just finished school and I was generally having a good time of life.
Really? Out of all the eras in history, you would go back to 1992?
I’m looking at it from a completely hedonistic point of view. From a political perspective, I wouldn’t mind going back to the days of Disraeli and Gladstone.
Don’t you think May and Corbyn have the same frisson?
Ahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa! Quite possibly. I’m not sure what the relationship would be there. I probably shouldn’t comment.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever had?
I left one of the biggest law firms in the world to set up my own business, which was a bit of gamble. But the advice I got was: ‘Just do it. If it fails, fine, learn from it, move on and do it better next time, but if it succeeds, then there will be good times ahead.’
What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
This wasn’t the worst thing, but it’s the answer I’m going to give you. We obviously come in for a bit of flak on Twitter, after debates in particular, and it all washes off me as I have become fairly immune to being told exactly what I am or what my parentage may or may not be. But somebody came on and said something like: ‘To be honest, Liam, the cut of your suit is not very good and I think it might be a little small for you.’ I read that and I thought: ‘You...um, well.’ After all the dogs abuse I had got, I found the fact that he questioned the cut of my suit really offensive.
Cybernats gone mad.
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