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Deidre Brock MP: Getting to know you

Brock on the campaign trail with Nicola Sturgeon | Alamy

Deidre Brock MP: Getting to know you

What’s your earliest memory?

I think my earliest memory was when I was about two or three. My parents were hosting a sort of party in the back garden and I, unbeknownst to anyone, went around each chair taking sips out of everyone’s beer. My parents didn’t notice until I started behaving a little oddly. My dad then said I apparently complained of a very sore head afterwards.

What were you like at school?

I was quite conscientious, I did my homework and knuckled down. I was also a voracious reader. I used to read my books as I walked to primary school and I knew where the pavement was going to be high, and I’d have to step over it so I didn’t have to put my books down. I read everything I could get my hands on. My dad had copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica and I’d read some of those. He was a local film critic, and he had quite a good collection of film books, so I used to read those.

I was also fairly competitive. My mum was a netball coach so growing up I played a lot of netball.

Did it ever cross your mind to enter the film industry?

I did a bit of amateur acting at school and found myself doing theatre at Curtin University where I studied. This all then kind of springboarded into a career as I went on to do full time study at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts where I studied acting for three years. I then got an agent and moved to Sydney. So, I did end up getting a bit of work in the film industry.

Who would your dream dinner date be with? 

I was kind of thinking along the lines of a dinner party with people like Robert Louis Stevenson, Elsie Inglis, and Kate Hepburn, because they were both ballsy women who stood up to the prejudices that there were at the time. 

I would also invite Mark Cousins, who’s a great conversationalist, and Stanley Kubrick as my dad’s favorite film was 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick is quite a controversial figure to an extent but he was a fabulous filmmaker and I think it would be great to hear Mark questioning Kubrick. And I suppose I’d like my dad to be there, because he’d really enjoy that conversation.

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

You get some horrible stuff said online, which I tend to ignore. However, I do know what is one of the best things that someone has ever said to me. It was just after I was first elected as the MP for Edinburgh North and Leith in 2015. A constituent at the time gave me a hug and said, “oh, Deidre, you’re far too normal to be a politician,” and I think that’s a good thing to be. We need more politicians who are a bit more focused on things like that.

What led you into politics?

My parents were always interested in politics. My dad used to host election night parties when we lived in Australia.

However, it was not until 1996 when I came to visit my sister who lived in Scotland and was a supporter of independence that I became really interested. I also met my partner during that holiday and his parents are also big supporters of independence. So, I got to understand a bit about Scottish politics and began to passionately believe in the cause for independence. I then joined the party on the back of the initial vote for the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament.

So, did you stand for elected office immediately?

I didn’t. I first worked for Rob Gibson, who was then an MSP for the Highlands and Islands, as his parliamentary assistant. I was then persuaded to stand for the Edinburgh Council in 2007 and became an SNP councillor for the Leith Walk ward.

Then I became the convener for culture and sport, which was quite a steep learning curve. I’ve always loved culture, so it was no hardship, but there was still lots to learn about how the council functioned and the various things that faced Edinburgh’s cultural reputation, which I was keen on protecting and enhancing.

What would you say is your guiltiest pleasure? 

Pineapple cakes from Bayne’s bakery. I have to steel myself to walk past the bakery in Leith when I’m walking to the office.

Also, as a way of letting off steam, I quite like rescue animal videos on Facebook. The way that people look after these animals gives you faith in human nature. 

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

I would go back to the Scottish Enlightenment era because of the delight people took in challenging the stale old notions that existed at that time. 

That hotbed of debate where you could challenge other notions without people having entrenched ideas, and not willing to consider another’s point of view as it sometimes feels nowadays, would be a really interesting time to experience.

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

When I was a councillor for the Leith Walk ward, a colleague told me, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” and it’s something that I think every politician needs to keep in mind.

What skill should every person have?

I worry that we’re getting a bit helpless at creating things with our hands and a bit too dependent on those who can do that. Everyone should know how to repair things so these are not thrown away. I’m a big believer in a circular economy so anything that assists that is important. 

What was the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?

I hesitate to say this because I don’t want to put young women off childbirth, but it was quite painful. However, the great thing to remember is that the minute the baby arrives there’s no more pain.

What’s your top film of all time? 

My favorite film would probably be Lawrence of Arabia, partly because I find the character of  TE Lawrence quite enigmatic and partly because I had a massive crush on Peter O’Toole. However, it’s mainly because of David Lean’s direction and the extraordinary cinematography. •

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