POLITICS
25/01/2018 15:40 GMT | Updated 25/01/2018 17:55 GMT

17 For '17: Danielle Rowley Talks To HuffPost About Her First Months In Westminster

Journalism graduate, 27, chaired Richard Leonard's campaign to be Scottish Labour Leader

Danielle Rowley
Danielle Rowley, Scottish Labour MP for Midlothian

Born on a council estate, 27-year-old Danielle Rowley comes from a family of Labour Party activists and hit the doors campaigning as a teenager. 

After graduating with a journalism degree from the city’s Edinburgh Napier University, Rowley worked for Gordon Brown’s office as a media manager during the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign before moving to work for the housing charity Shelter. 

But having stood for the Scottish Youth Parliament, her real ambition was to secure a role in frontline politics was her real ambition. 

Her chance arrived sooner than expected when Theresa May called a snap General Election in June, and after being selected as the Midlothian candidate, Rowley earned her stripes with a feat managed by just a handful of MPs north of the Border - beating the SNP. 

Since vowing to stamp out the need for food banks in her maiden speech, she has chaired Richard Leonard’s successful campaign to become Scottish Labour Leader after Kezia Dugdale’s shock resignation. 

A strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, Rowley is also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, the MP favoured by many trade unionists to replace the leader.  

Where were you born and raised? 

I was born in Edinburgh and have lived in Midlothian my whole life, and in my current home since I was two. 

What did you want to be when you were 16?  

I wanted to study English after leaving school, and to become a writer. 

When did you first become interested in politics? 

I’ve been interested in politics for most of my life in different ways. For a start, my family are very political. My parents and all four grandparents have been active in politics and trade unions throughout their lives, and so have talked to me a lot about people working together to make society a better place. I’ve also always taken a keen interest in getting involved. At high school I was on the school’s pupil council, and as a teenager I was a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.             

Who is your political hero? 

I really admire Jennie Lee, the former Scottish Labour MP. She worked to make university education accessible to anyone - regardless of background - playing a key role in the establishment of the Open University.  

ADRIAN DENNIS via Getty Images
Rowley has a good rapport with Tory MP Ranil Jayawardena 
 

Who is your favourite politician from another party? 

I was recently in Ottawa at an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference with a Conservative MP, Ranil Jayawardena. We couldn’t be further apart politically  we basically didn’t agree on anything at all  but I think because of that we managed to not talk too much about policy and actually got on fairly well. I learned about his family, his daughters, and his communitywhich is very different from mine. And hopefully he learned a thing or two from me as well.       

What did you do before becoming an MP? 

I was a Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer for the fantastic housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland. I absolutely loved my job and all of the people I got to work with. As long as I'm working in a role where I am helping people then I'm happy!  

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

I think the Department for Work and Pensions, as I would have the power to create a fairer societyincluding a fairer workplace, and to ensure that vulnerable people and our elderly are well supported.  

What was the last book you read?

Slaughterhouse 5. Currently reading The New Poverty.  

Who is your favourite band/artist? 

Frightened Rabbit. 

What's your favourite film? 

Pride! 

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

I would like to make politics fairer and more representative. Part of this would be working to engage more people, especially from underrepresented groups, in the day-to-day processes of politics.  

Which three words would your best friend use to describe you? 

My colleague and office roommate in Westminster, Paul Sweeney MP, said "shrewd, sensitive and a good sense of humour" ... that sounds fair enough.