SNP must offer more support to its candidates, warns Mhairi Black

Written by Staff reporter on 17 December 2017 in News

In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, Mhairi Black says the SNP needs “a kick up the backside” to make the party realise the need to offer greater support to its MPs

Mhairi Black - image credit: Alister Thorpe

Mhairi Black says the SNP needs “a kick up the backside” to make the party offer greater support to its MPs, so future candidates can “have a different experience” of entering politics to her own.

In an exclusive interview with Holyrood, Black, who was subject to fierce media attention after being elected to Westminster as the youngest MP in 300 years, said that she had received little in the way of support  from the SNP after being elected as a 20-year-old, suggesting “there should be more care” for those thrown into elected politics.

Despite being tipped as a future SNP leader, Black also revealed she had never had a real one-on-one conversation with Nicola Sturgeon.

Speaking to Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes about her relationship with the SNP leader, Black said: “She came down to greet us all but no, we’ve not had that kind of chat. The only time that I really sort of had a conversation with her was when she asked me to do the youth stuff during the Scottish elections, but other than that, no. I mean, we’ve been at public things and meet and greets but nothing special.”

Although Black did sit down with Alex Salmond after being elected, she said the former leader tried to offer her some style advice before suggesting she let former MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh take her out shopping.

She said: “I was just sitting chatting away to him and the whole time I’m thinking, what’s the point of this meant to be – is this a date, do I need to come out to Alex Salmond? It was fine, really, he was just giving me tips here and there and then he says, ‘I’m sure Taz will take you out to go shopping or something at some point and you’ll find your own style’.

“He then said that the last time he’d had this conversation it was with a young woman called Nicola Sturgeon. I thought, ‘oh, very good’ and I just left the awkward silence hanging when he asked me if I wanted him to arrange it with Taz. I’m like, ‘I am never going to be told how to dress, especially by a man.’”

Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, had been assigned to offer Black mentoring support as a candidate in the 2015 general election, but the Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP said they only met twice, adding “I think I frightened her”.

She said: “I think things should change and that it might be an idea for Nicola to take the time to talk to folk or whatever but I hope that someone else further down the line does have a different experience to me.

“There should be more care… there you go. I know I’m doing that thing again, where I’m maybe minimising it because it’s myself I’m talking about and I don’t want to make out I was really needy or anything but I think that’s an area where the party does need a kick up the backside, especially given the kind of caring ethos that we like to preach in the party.”

Read the full interview in Holyrood magazine on Monday

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