Kirsty Blackman Interview: 'I Am 29, Honest, But I Love To Crochet'

Kirsty Blackman, second from right, with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

The 2015 General Election saw 176 MPs elected to the Commons for the very first time. In a series of exclusive interviews, The Huffington Post UK is speaking to 15 MPs from the 2015 intake of the Conservatives, Labour and SNP. Today it's the SNP's Kirsty Blackman...

The SNP prides itself on its diversity - it's thought to be the gayest parliamentary party in the world - and the party boasts more twentysomethings per head than any other party in Westminster.

Among their number is 29-year-old Kirsty Blackman, the MP for Aberdeen North. While a councillor since 2007, Ms Blackman says it was never the plan to be a politician, but disillusionment with studying medicine and the failed independence vote conspired to send her 584 miles away from her hometown (and now constituency) to Westminster.

She tells HuffPost UK about life in Parliament when you have two young children, the Aberdonian "language" of Doric and why she might be setting up the first All-Party Parliamentary Group for Crocheting.

Here is Kirsty Blackman's 15 from '15:

1) Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Aberdeenshire and raised in Aberdeen.

2) What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was really small I wanted to be a doctor, and for quite a while I wanted to be a teacher. Then I left school and studied medicine for a year and realised it was not the right decision at all. You don't talk to real people. I wanted to help people. That was the plan.

I floated around and wondered what to do with my life, and somebody suggested I stand for council. And I thought: "Aye, I can do this."

I joined the SNP when I was about 14. I actually ran the election campaign for Aberdeen Central when I was 20. So I was involved in a backroom way but I hadn't thought about being a politician.

Kirsty Blackman

3) When did you first become interested in politics?

When I was a kid we always went to castles and houses. There's a lot of that in the North East of Scotland. We always spoke of the Scottish elements of the history behind it.

Robert the Bruce gave money to Aberdeen, and we have common good land in Aberdeen that was gifted by Robert the Bruce. So we always talked about Scottish history, for example, in relation to things like the wars of independence. That was the idea behind getting involved in the SNP.

Getting involved with politics - which seems to me to be something quite different - I stood for council not really wanting to be involved in politics but wanting to help people.

4) Do you have any political heroes?

In a constituency that neighbours Alex Salmond, Alex was always there. He was always somebody who was making speeches and saying things that were really inspirational.

Brian Adam was the MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) for Aberdeen Donside. Brian was an excellent, excellent MSP. He was really supportive of his family and his other love was the people of Aberdeen and trying to improve things for them.

I think about him a lot - he died in 2013 and I was one of his staff members at the time. I worked for him and was a friend of his. He was a mentor for me.

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond

5) When did you first stand for election?

I stood for Aberdeen City Council in 2007 and was elected. I was 21, Callum McCaig (now MP for Aberdeen South) was 24, 25, Martin McDonald who was the MSP for Aberdeen Donside was also under-30. I would have been the youngest councillor in Scotland, I'm pretty sure, but my younger brother got elected as well. He was 18.

The biggest factor was Kevin Stewart, the leader of the council, who genuinely believed in us. He looked at ability rather than experience. It made a huge change for the council as well. So in the 2012 council elections the other parties stood young people as well. You should have a huge spread of ages.

6) What did you do for a living before becoming an MP?

I had been an elected councillor since 2007 and worked for various members of the Scottish Parliament. (HP: Are you a career politician?) I look like a career politician, on paper. I never intended to stand as an MP. It was never on the cards until the referendum. We decided to stay in this system, so what can I do? Stand for Parliament.

7) What do you do to relax?

I am 29, honest, but I love to crochet. A lot of people find it difficult to switch off. So even if I'm just watching TV I find it difficult to concentrate on the TV. If I'm crocheting then I can't be thinking about other things. I love making blankets. I crochet squares for blankets that get sent to a world cancer charity.

(HP: Any other crocheting MPs?) There are some knitters. We did talk about an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Crocheting.

The first All-Party Group on Crocheting in the works?

8) If you could run any Government department, which would it be?

The Leader of the House. That's the best thing. Because you've got to know a lot about everything, you've got so much to do and also you're dealing with the running of the House. Obviously I would rather have an independent Scotland.

9) What is your favourite film?

I watch a lot of kids films as I have two small children. I watched 'Big Hero 6' the other day. It's this giant white puffy man. It's amazing. I tend to like films that are light and fun - I can't stand horror movies. 'Cars' is quite good.

10) Who is your favourite band/artist?

I don't listen to a huge amount of music. I quite like people who make statements - Lily Allen, her music's fun and interesting. I tend towards things that are more fun. My dad's into country music which is totally depressing.

Lilly Allen: fun

11) What is the best thing about the House of Commons?

It's more interesting than I thought it would be. When you watch it on TV, you think it's the most boring place in the world. Ever. It's not. It's quite good.

You could be forgiven for thinking MPs spend a lot of time with their feet up. Actually, that's not really the case.

12) What is the worst thing about the House of Commons?

The very worst thing about Parliament is that it's 584 miles away from my constituency. It's far too far away and it's not set up to think about the travelling.

I leave the house on a Monday morning at 7am and get home on Thursday night once the children are in bed, in a standard week. I don't see them for four whole days, which isn't nice. It's easier now with things like Skype and my children are quite young and they're not at school, so there's a bit more flexibility.

I don't know how you could possibly be a parliamentarian as a single parent with young children. You need someone to look after the children. You cannot get enough flexible childcare that covers that.

I was here with the kids one day and there was the possibility there was going to be a vote, and I said 'can I take my children into the (voting) Lobby' and they said 'no'. What do I do with them? Where do I put them when I vote?

13) What is the one thing you would change about UK politics if you could?

Accessibility to be increased for all politicians. I would like everybody to feel they can approach their MP. We've got a bit more of that in Scotland, that politicians are there for you.

14) What one reason would you give someone to visit your constituency?

Aberdeen is a different kind of city from other cities. The majority of the buildings are grey, and if you see it on a day when the sun is out the granite just shines.

If you come to Aberdeen, you will get a good welcome. We don't speak Scots, we speak "Doric". It's a language in its own right. Robbie Shepherd is on Radio Scotland on a Sunday and he does Take The Floor, which is Scottish country dancing. His accent. He's Doric. The best Doric word is "bosie", which is a hug. One you hear quite a lot is "fit fit fits fit fit" which means "which foot fits which boot".

Robbie Shepherd, one of Aberdeen's favourite sons

15) What are the best and worst aspects of your personality?

I'm not very good at saying 'no' to people. I tend to get stressed about it.

I don't lack confidence - so my constituents know that if I take something on I'm not going to be shy about challenging a Government minister.