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Tim Eagle: My guilty pleasure? Frozen chocolate with a glass of cold milk

New Tory MSP Tim Eagle

Tim Eagle: My guilty pleasure? Frozen chocolate with a glass of cold milk

New Conservative MSP Tim Eagle, who was appointed from the regional list after Donald Cameron left to join the UK Government, talks about his passion for agriculture, his past with dismissive employers and what he hopes to achieve during his first year in parliament.

What’s your earliest memory?

I think it would be my 10th birthday. I remember I got a Nintendo Entertainment System [NES], which was the must-have computer at the time.

What were you like at school? 

I was quite middle of the road. I was never particularly academic, certainly wasn’t a cool kid and I was sort of semi-sporty. I used to like things like science and geography. I was just one of these kids that blends into the background. 

Who would be your dream dinner date?

I think politically it would probably be someone like Hillary Clinton. It’d be fascinating to have a discussion with her over politics. Also, people like Ghandi or David Attenborough would be fascinating to sit down and have a dinner date with. Another person would be [physicist] Brian Cox. I don’t understand a single word he says, but it would still be good to have a discussion with him.

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

I guess the worst attitude I’ve come across is when people have said to me, “well, you’re not clever enough to do that” or “you won’t be able to achieve that.” I was 17 years old and working at Gatwick Airport and my employer was quite dismissive of what I could be. He said, “you’re always going to be here, and you’re always going to be lonely”. Thankfully this situation only helped me build the tenacity to push forward.

What led you into politics?

I live in Buckie, and when my family was young I got quite heavily involved in various pockets of the community, like football, church, and the council – particularly when budget cuts threatened swimming pools, sports facilities, and things like that. As a person with a young family, these threats were quite troublesome so there was an urge for me to get involved. I began to meet the councillors and I got to know Douglas Ross, who I now have been friends with for quite a long time. In 2015 he came to me and said, “hey, look, there’s a by-election in Buckie, would you consider standing?” And I had not thought about politics at all before that point, but I said “well, why not?” I was so involved in it anyway and was actually quite keen to get into a council. I stood and lost in that election and then tried again in 2017 and was elected to represent the Buckie ward on Moray Council.

What did you do before standing for elected office?

I’ve always been in agriculture, and we have a small farm in Buckie, so before standing I did agricultural consultancy work for a long time. Politics wasn’t even on my radar. It is something I got gradually into through the community. 

MSP Tim Eagle with his kids 

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

It would probably be chocolate. I’m terrible – I put pure Dairy Milk chocolate in the freezer and then have it with a cold glass of milk. 

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

I think I’d go all the way back to the big bang. I’d love to be in the ether watching as the creation of the universe happened. 

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

I initially had applied to study agriculture at the University of Aberdeen. However, one day the farmer at the farm I used to work at told me, “don’t do that. You know how to look after a sheep and a cow. What you need to know is where agriculture is moving, and it is going towards the conservation of the environment”. And I think that was a great bit of advice because I ultimately changed my course to zoology, which encompassed both agriculture and environmental sciences. Looking back now, he really helped my career as agriculture has gone down that route. 

What skill should every person have?

Everyone should learn to be prudent. In a world of social media, budget cuts and an NHS in crisis post-Covid, I think I’m right to say we must learn to think before we act. Stop and ask yourself if you should post that on Facebook or, before phoning your GP, ask your mum if it has happened to her before. I just think we talk about resilience a lot and not enough on just stopping and being a little bit more patient. 

What is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced?

I’ve been kicked by several cows that have quite badly bruised and damaged me. But there was once a few years ago, when I was out trying to clear the straw from underneath the stone wall in the yard, a massive stone fell off the wall and onto my head. I remember lying down and telling myself, “that was quite sore”. 

What’s your top film of all time?

Space Buddies. It was released when my daughter was about two and she was just addicted to this film. It was literally on every day in the background for months – so it has that really emotional pull because my daughter loved it so much. 

And what do you want to achieve during your first year as an MSP?

I want to really get to know a bit more the wider region of the Highlands and Islands. I want to also make a bit of noise about protecting sport, our NHS and agriculture. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I guess now that I’m here, I hope to stay. I’d like to think that I can do well in the two and a half years left until the next election and refight my seat again in 2026. 

If not, I’ll be at home in the lambing shed at this time of year with my sheep and getting hit on the head by more big lumps of rock. 

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