Make Me Prime Minister - interview with Kelly

Category: Press Pack Article


Age: 25              

Location: Edinburgh    

Occupation: Equality & Diversity Inclusion Manager

Political leanings – “Very much to the left.”

Big Idea – Housing security for everyone and abolishing homelessness with Housing First. Kelly would like to implement a 20 min neighbourhood where everyone has a community within 20 mins of their home.

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Ambitious, resilient and opinionated.

Why are you interested in politics?

It started when I was 16. I was actually getting ready to go to university to study fashion – that’s my other love, I love fashion. But it didn’t really inspire me that much. I’m very ambitious and tenacious, and it didn’t really do anything for me. And my mum got really into the Scottish independence referendum, and one night she took me to see a debate, and I found it absolutely fascinating – it really got my brain going. And from there, that was it – I’ve never looked back. That was eight years ago.

How would you describe your political leanings? Do you identify with a particular party?

Very much to the left. I am an SNP member. There are things I think the SNP could be stronger on, but diversity of opinion in a political party is important for debate and democracy.  

Who is your political hero?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the US. I went to New York recently, and I emailed her office and went there and met them all and spoke to them. She’s definitely my hero.

What about your political villain?

Right now, the one that I dislike the most is Priti Patel. I think she’s evil and causes very real and significant harm particularly to marginalised communities. She shouldn’t be anywhere near power.

Do you have any experience in a political role?

I’ve been an SNP member since I was 17 and was on the board of their youth wing for three years. I believe Scottish independence is the best and only viable vehicle for change in Scotland.

What would your strengths be in the role of Prime Minister? 

I am someone who gets the job done, and I am very tenacious and determined. I’m very principled, and I think that’s what you need, to be Prime Minister. You need integrity and principles, and I think that’s what we lack.

What about your weaknesses?

Probably that I’m led quite emotionally. A lot of my work is in human rights, and it’s difficult not to be emotional about your work. So I’m definitely guided by my emotions.

You’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and autism. Do you think that has influenced and shaped your political views?

Absolutely. That’s where most of my work and my activism comes from right now, it’s about disability rights. Having an autistic brain, we’re much more inclined to fight injustice and feel very strongly about things. It’s definitely fuelled my passions over the years. I think very black and white, and it’s definitely entrenched my views, for sure.

If you were PM what is the first law you would pass?

I would love to see something about neurodivergent inclusion. That would benefit the whole of society, it’s not just about including neurodivergent people. Making the world kinder for neurodivergent people also makes the world kinder for everybody else. I think we need to take a more proactive approach to wellbeing. One of the things I’ve noticed about Britain is that being miserable just has us all in a choke-hold. Nobody does anything about it. We don’t have to live like this. We could choose something better. So I’d definitely go down a wellbeing route, but I would like it to be based on neurodivergent inclusion – it’s a massive problem.

What are the other areas you’d seek to impact quickly?

I’m passionate about human rights and inclusion. My full-time job is as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, so things like refugee settlements. I would end the hostile environment; I would make it much easier to come here and seek refuge here. Police reform, anything to do with human rights I’m really passionate about. I would change the social security system, make it much more friendly, and more disabled-friendly. Just making Britain more inclusive and diverse.

According to Theresa May, the naughtiest thing she ever did was run through a field of wheat. What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done? 

I’m not sure I could pinpoint one. I’ve lived a very exciting life. Running through a field of wheat is very tame! When I was 14, I was hospitalised for drinking too much vodka. But from a political viewpoint, I’m very much into protest. I went to Catalonia for the Independence referendum, and I shielded a polling station from Spanish police. There was tear gas, and the were rubber bullets. So it depends where you’re coming at it from.

You’ve also done beauty pageants. Do you think there are skills that you have learned from that which could be useful in politics?

For sure. My whole reason for doing that was I’d always been very much into fashion, very much into modelling, and I loved beauty pageants. I loved watching Miss Universe every year. And I was always told you can’t have a brain and do that – that’s such a hollow thing to do. And for me, it’s about making a point. I can be whatever I want to be, and I can do whatever I want to do. I think just having the balls to do that and make that statement taught me a lot about confidence and the belief that I had in myself, and just being able to own what I want, and not worry about what other people think. But it also taught me a lot about sisterhood and respecting other women. They’re not necessarily your competition, and there’s space for all of you to thrive.

Bearing in mind your love of fashion and design, if you got the keys to Downing Street, how would you decide to decorate the Prime Ministerial flat?

That would be the least of my concerns. You would not catch me spending £800-a-roll on golden wallpaper, put it that way. I would be very much focussed on getting on with the job rather than decorating my apartment with gold wallpaper. My outfits, however, would be on-point!

What specific aspects of the show are you looking forward to, and what are you nervous about?

I am looking forward to a good debate. In Scotland, my political beliefs are not out of the ordinary. The political landscape here is very different. I’m not exposed to it a lot. So I’m actually looking forward to seeing the different mindsets and being exposed to it, and understanding the thought processes, because I don’t understand the thought processes from the other side. I’m nervous about the same thing – being able to keep my cool in those situations and not letting my emotions override my composure.

If the chance arose in real life, would you consider standing for parliament?

Yeah. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time. I worked in politics to start with, and I moved away from it and am now working in the NHS. So right now, if it arose, I would probably have to think hard about it, but I definitely want to at some point in my life. We desperately need young people, and in particular, young women, in Parliament. There’s no such thing as not having enough life experience to run for Parliament.

One of your ambitions is to work for the UN, isn’t it?

Yeah, that’s always been the dream, to work internationally. I would love to work on women in conflict zones, and how war and conflict affects women and girls. But yeah, the UN has always been a dream. I went to the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN this year, and in September I’m going to a UN innovation lab, so we’re going to a summer camp in upstate New York, and it’s all about sustainable development goals. I’m going to be working on gender equality. And then you come back to the UN and present your ideas, so I’m very much a UN geek, I love the UN, and it’s definitely where I want to end up.

How do you feel about working with Sayeeda Warsi and Alastair Campbell?

Good, especially Sayeeda, actually. Me and Sayeeda are politically different, but actually we agree on a lot. She’s a force to be reckoned with. And Alastair Campbell is one of the most memorable names in politics. He’s unapologetically socialist and we share a deep disdain for the Tories. His mentorship will be priceless. So I’m excited about both.

As you are about to embark on this experience, how are you feeling?

I feel loads of things. I’m very excited to get started. My life for the last nine years has been preparing me for this moment. I love politics, I love my career, and this is what I’m passionate about, so I’m very excited. And I’m very nervous about how it’s going to go, and how people are going to receive me. I’m a very strong character, so I’m probably going to be quite Marmite-y, so we’ll see how it goes down.