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by Sofia Villegas
18 June 2024
Councillor Kathleen Robertson: 'I fear for the loss of direct person-to-person contact'

Moray council leader Kathleen Robertson

Councillor Kathleen Robertson: 'I fear for the loss of direct person-to-person contact'

The Conservative councillor speaks about how Question Time fuelled her appetite for politics

What’s your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is a childhood holiday to the Republic of Ireland. We used to go to Connemara in County Galway every year. We used to trail down from Renfrewshire to the west of Ireland in two estate cars with a parent, a child and four dogs in the back of each car. We would take the ferry across to Northern Ireland and then drive down. This all happened during the times when the Troubles were still going on in Northern Ireland, so I remember having to go through the checkpoints at the border. That would be my first clear memory, having holiday time with my family in the west of Ireland.

What were you like at school?  

I wanted to be a veterinary surgeon. I knew fairly early on that that was what I wanted to do so I had to be quite a serious and conscientious student. I still managed to do everything – I did a lot of sports and music while still doing all the academic work – but I was probably quite a boring student if I’m being honest.

Who would be your dream dinner date?

I would love to have dinner with Michelle Obama. I just think she’s a really inspirational woman and she would be very interesting to talk to.

What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

I was about 10 years old and my father said to me “you could have done better” and that’s stuck with me my entire life.

What led you into politics?

I had some experience in veterinary politics from my professional standpoint and that kind of piqued my interest. I also blame my mother because, while I was growing up, she was addicted to BBC One’s Question Time. However, what really pushed me towards it was Covid. During the pandemic I got very frustrated with education and social care and I soon realised there was no point in standing on the sidelines so I decided to get involved. 

Did you stand for elected office immediately? 

Yes, I stood for the Scottish council elections in May 2022, was elected to councillor and then immediately after into the leader role of Moray Council. It was quite a rapid rise and a steep learning curve.

If you weren’t a politician right now, what would you have liked to be?

I’m a veterinary surgeon so I’d probably still be practising as a vet because I’ve enjoyed my career and I’ve done many different elements of that job. However, if I were to start my career all over again I would probably do medicine and be a GP.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I struggle to pick one, but I think it has to be macadamia nuts with Nestle’s caramel sauce.

What’s your best holiday ever?

My best holiday ever was probably an overseas trip to South America that covered Peru and Bolivia.

Do you have any anecdotes from your trip that made it so special to you?

It was one of epiphany – I learned I could step off the treadmill. In other words, I learned about the importance of self-care.

If you could go back in time, where would you go? 

I’d probably go back to my wedding day because it passed in an absolute flash and I would like to go through it in slow motion.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

It would have to be divided into two bits. The first one is to be yourself and the other one is to always admit when you don’t know something. 

What was the last book you read?

I haven’t read an awful lot since I got elected, to be perfectly honest. I think the last book I read might have been Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It’s a novel set in the US and it tells the story of a girl named Kya who lived on her own and brought herself up in the marshes of North Carolina. I really enjoyed it and I believe it was made into a film a couple of years ago. 

Tory councillor Katheleen Robertson and her dogs

What skill should every person have?

Everyone should have communication skills as everything hinges on these. Upset, turmoil and conflict are usually a result of people not speaking to each other or picking up on the wrong nuance of communication. A colleague also recently said you need to see the whites of a person’s eyes when you speak to them. Unfortunately, in this world of Teams and Zoom it is very difficult to do that. Our young people are needing to learn different ways to communicate with others and I fear for the loss of direct person-to-person contact.

What is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?

It would have to be childbirth, no doubt. 

What is your top film of all time?

It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s always on at Christmas and it is the one time the world stops and we all come together as a family. 

What is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession would be my memories.

What is your greatest fear?

Outliving my children.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? 

I would hope to have seen both my children through university and to live a slightly calmer life while still being involved in politics. I’m standing as a candidate for Westminster in the upcoming general election. I am the Scottish Conservative candidate for the new Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey constituency. So, hopefully I can win this seat for the Conservatives on 4 July, which would mean that in five years’ time, I would be coming to the end of my first term as an MP. 

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