Getting to know you - Monica Lennon

Written by Kate Shannon on 24 January 2017 in Inside Politics

MSP Monica Lennon sits down for a moment of levity with Holyrood’s Kate Shannon

Labour’s Monica Lennon is a list MSP for the Central Scotland area. She was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 and is currently her party’s Shadow Minister for Inequality. Lennon is no stranger to politics, having been a councillor in South Lanarkshire Council since 2012, a role she will continue in, unpaid, until the council elections this year. Born in Bellshill, Lennon went to John Ogilvie High School and then Strathclyde University where she graduated in 2001 with a BA in environmental planning. She worked as a planning officer for South Lanarkshire Council from 2001 to 2007, before moving to Knight Frank LLP as a commercial surveying practice associate in 2011-12, she also worked as a freelance planning consultant during this time.

What was your earliest memory?
I have a really bad memory but my first memory would probably be fighting with a boy at nursery school. This is the story of my life! I think his name might have been Kevin.

What were you like at school?
At primary school I was generally very well behaved but probably with just the right amount of mischief. I was very chatty and always being told to sit down at the front to stop talking and distracting people but I was generally pretty good.

Did you enjoy school?
I did, especially primary school. Though when it was time to leave, it was time to leave. 

Who would be your dream dinner date? 
This is a hard one. I’m reading a book right now by Sue Lloyd-Roberts called The War on Women, she was an amazing, fearless journalist who sadly died a couple of years ago. She would be fascinating to have dinner with, she’s a feminist inspiration. But for a drink in the bar afterwards, I’d like to hang out with Noel Gallagher, I’ve still got a crush on him.

What are you scared of?
Cats. 

What prompted that, did something happen when you were young?
Not really, I’ve never been attacked by a cat – that’s what I fear – I do remember my brother did get a really bad scratch when he was little. I get really nervous around cats. My next-door neighbour’s cat terrorises me – sorry, neighbour – it turns up in my house. I’m scared of cats and mice. And journalists a little bit. 

Oh dear, we’re right up there with mice…
I’m afraid so! I’m going to have to confront the cat thing at some point. Have you seen the Cat Protection people who come into parliament and they have a huge cardboard cut-out of a cat? I noticed it on social media before I was elected and I’m a bit frightened of the day I have to see that.

What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
Setting aside the horrible things people have said on Twitter which I wouldn’t want to repeat, I’ve had the occasional red Tory jibe which I don’t like and I was once called the Lord Haw Haw of the Labour Party by another councillor in a letter to a newspaper. It was a really bizarre thing to say. 

What is your most treasured possession?
Probably a bracelet that was a gift from my dad. And it’s not exactly a treasure but I can’t live without my iPhone.

What do you dislike about your appearance?
When I have a bad hair day, would that count?

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
It’s a bit boring but I’d say chocolate.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
That’s hard, there are so many eras I’d like to experience but I think I’d like to go back to the 1960s and have a look around. That would be fun.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
To believe in myself. I had a lot of good support and advice from women in my life which helped me to get into politics and to get elected but much of that applies in your daily life. It’s about being confident and not doubting myself, and also trusting your instincts and believing in yourself.

What skill should every person have?
I think everyone should be able to cook to a decent standard but I probably need some lessons myself.

What’s the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?
I had appendicitis as a child, that was pretty brutal and as an adult, childbirth was a special kind of pain.

What is your least favourite food?
I pretty much eat everything apart from meat as I’m vegetarian. Aside from that, I’m not keen on seafood.

What is your favourite film or television programme?
It’s hard to pick just one. It’s a bit cheesy but I’ve watched Love Actually so many times. It’s such a good film.

What was your best holiday?
My best holiday was in Barbados. It was my honeymoon, pre-children, and it was lovely.

What was the last book you read?
I’m currently reading The War on Women, as I mentioned, and before that it was a book about radical feminism. However, aside from that I recently read The Girl on the Train, which was really gripping. I haven’t seen the film yet, though I’m told it is also very good.

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