18 Sep 2015

Jeremy Corbyn is England’s answer to the SNP – Mhairi Black

Jeremy Corbyn will be able to harness the passion that swept the SNP to victory in Scotland, the party’s youngest MP says.

Mhairi Black, who at 21 is the youngest MP in Westminster, revealed that she has had “quite a few” conversations with Mr Corbyn despite being met with general “hostility” from other Labour MPs.

The Labour leader is the only leadership contender who would be able to “tap into” the passion that delivered the SNP landslide in Scotland, she said.

Despite the lack of enthusiasm for him among his own MPs and a difficult first week in post, she said that Mr Corbyn will be able to harness the “surge of support” for policies, such as scrapping Trident and ending austerity, that gave the SNP victory in Scotland, wiping out Labour.

Although expecting “hostile English people” on arrival to London, she said she found many voters were desperate to back the policies of the SNP but did not have the chance. These are the voters Mr Corbyn will attract, she said.

‘We don’t have horns on our head’

She told Channel 4 News: “I have had quite a few conversations with Jeremy Corbyn. As time has gone on they [other Labour MPs] have become much more friendly.

“One of the problems I think that Labour has had is that it has misunderstood the SNP and where the SNP are coming from and why people voted SNP, but I think that now they are starting to realise that we don’t have horns on our heads and on actually a lot of things we are in agreement.”

She added: “I think the reason the SNP got such a surge of support is because we listened to people and we were saying things that people believed in, which is no to austerity, no to Trident and such like. So when we arrived down here in London, instead of being met by hostile English people, we were surrounded by people who were saying, ‘We wish you were here because we don’t want austerity either.’

“There is a real thirst for that same change within England right now and I think that is what Jeremy has managed to tap into. So this idea that people don’t want change is ridiculous – and not just in Scotland with the SNP, but in England with Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Black had only been to London twice before she arrived as an MP and has seen little outside the Westminster estate since May, starting early, leaving work late and jumping on a plane back to Scotland at the earliest opportunity.

Although relations between Labour MPs and the new SNP cohort were decidedly cool at the beginning, she said most have begun to realise “we don’t have horns on our heads”.

‘Very cold’

She told Channel 4 News: “All the hostility, quite naturally, came from Labour. Because of us nats, some of their friends have lost their jobs. I am sure that is how they were feeling. It’s a human thing. But I know that it was very cold to begin with.

“The Conservatives… I wouldn’t say that we enabled them to win… but they don’t have to be nasty, they have got a majority. No matter how slim it is, they do have one. So there is no hostility from them.”

During her interview with Jon Snow, Ms Black revealed that she was a secret Titanic mega-fan who is obsessed with the film and the ship. She has even taught herself to play My Heart Will Go On on the piano from YouTube videos. “It is one of the few areas of my life there is no politics,” she said.