Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
Carol Monaghan MP: 'My predecessors were all miners'

Carol Monaghan MP

Carol Monaghan MP: 'My predecessors were all miners'

What is your earliest memory?
All my earliest memories are from holidays and my very earliest is from when I was about two and we were in Girvan, which is terribly glamorous. We were in a house that had a piano and I’d never seen one before. It was this big, strange instrument. I’d love to say I became a great pianist but unfortunately I can’t play. My daughter now plays very well.

What were you like at school?
I quite enjoyed primary school, probably up until primary four, and then I remember being completely bored, so I was probably a bit of a pain for the last years there. Secondary school was wonderful. There were all these different subjects that really sparked my interest. I got into science labs and did Latin, which was quite unusual for a state school. We studied Catullus and other poets and I loved that. 

What’s your greatest fear?
I used to be a swimmer and swam competitively in a team, but I don’t particularly like it now. My personal fear would be around drowning, that I go to take a breath and can’t. That’s a horrible scenario. Also, being at the bottom of the pool and not quite making it to the top, I find that quite frightening. And as a parent, your fear becomes centred around your kids – will they be happy, will they be safe, will they manage to get their own place, all those kinds of things.

You’re not into wild swimming then?
Not a chance. I’ve been known to swim in the sea on holiday, but in Scotland it’s freezing cold and I hate cold water, and anyway, there’s always that chance something goes around your ankle. My friends keep trying to persuade me.

Who is your dream dinner date?
Folk like Attila the Hun would be fascinating, as would Richard Feynman – he was an incredible character who could play the drums and all sorts, as well as being an incredible physicist. But as I get older, I’m more interested in family and knowing where I came from, so maybe some great-great grandparents so I could talk to them about how things were. My sister has done lots of the family tree and she’s managed to get back on the Scottish side as far as the 1600s. Life expectancy then was about 40 and you see all your predecessors died about that age. Mine were all miners, but there was one guy who lived to his 60s, which would have been really old for the time. I wondered if he had an easier time, but it looks like he died of a fractured skull, which we think was from a mine collapsing. 

What’s the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?
As a politician, you get people saying pretty bad things pretty regularly, particularly on social media. Twitter is an absolute cesspit. I’ve pretty much come off Twitter, because why should we put ourselves through that? After Trump was elected, I put out a tweet that wasn’t complimentary and some of the things that were said were quite incredible, mostly coming from the States. One from Randy in Dallas said I was so ignorant I should go back to Australia. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?
When my son was born I was in my 20s and he was my dad’s first grandchild. My dad said, “people will give you loads of advice for bringing up your child and I’m only going to give you one: when you’re disciplining him, if it’s important then make sure you follow through, and if it’s not then don’t waste your time on it”. Often we pull kids up for lots of trivial things that don’t matter that much, so why bother? I’ve tried always to employ that. Possibly, I’ve not always managed.

What’s your favourite film?
High Society. It’s got everything – Grace Kelly, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, lots of brilliant songs like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and great comedy. It’s just complete escapism. 

What was the last book you read?
I’m in the middle of Ultra-Processed People by Chris Van Tulleken about the impact of processed food on us and our health. It’s non-fiction, so I dip in and out. The last novel I read was Agatha Christie, The ABC Murders. It’s old-fashioned good detective stuff with great characters.

What’s your most prized possession?
I don’t do possessions. I wear a watch my mum gave me for my 40th and I always have that on, but if my house was burning down would I go to get anything? Other than my kids and my dog, there’s nothing. 

What’s the best holiday you’ve been on?
I love holidays because it’s time with the family with no distractions. We tend to do things like camping in France and it’s wonderful. My dad was a great cyclist and would take us cycling all over Scotland for holidays. One year he decided we’d take a ferry from Plymouth to Santander and go cycling in the north of Spain. I was probably 13 or 14 and at the time there was no tourism in the villages we were going through, so we were interesting to them. There had been development on the Med but the north was just another world.

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Kirsteen Paterson - SNP councillor suspended over housing scheme row.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top