WHO: 21-year-old Scottish Nationalist MP – the youngest in the country since 1667 – who’s putting the world to rights.
WHY: Politicians aren’t meant to look like Mhairi Black. The SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South isn’t one of the careerists who normally clog up the Commons – her last job was working in a chip shop. Her victory on May 7 made Black Scotland’s youngest MP since 1667, aged just 20 years and 237 days.
Her youth is always the first thing people mention about Mhairi Black, and given the current Government’s all-out war on the young (cuts to welfare and housing benefits, no ‘living wage’ for anyone under 25, raising the cap on tuition fees), it certainly carries a symbolic significance – she is, after all, “the only 20-year-old in the whole of the UK who [George Osborne] is prepared to help with housing”. In her maiden speech in the House of Commons, Black made an eloquent, impassioned case against Tory austerity and became a viral sensation: the speech was viewed more than 10m times online.
By her own admission, Black is “fundamentally uncomfortable” in Westminster, and that’s precisely why she deserves to be there – she might be an atypical politician, but these days, such people are needed more than ever.
WHAT SHE SAYS: “People realise it’s more about the quality of your argument and the quality of what you’re saying. They can see past political spin, aesthetic, ages, gender – I can’t help what I am. They see it more as a breath of fresh air.”
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT HER: “I don’t like piling pressure on her, but she’s so incredibly talented. If she wants to be, she’s a future SNP leader.” – Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP
HOW SHE MADE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE: By showing that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
Read about why we picked the rest of our People of the Year 2015:
Taylor Swift – For establishing herself as the most powerful pop star on the planet
Kendrick Lamar – For making rap righteous again
The Libertines – For the year’s most beautiful (and unlikely) comeback
Skepta – For taking grime global
Miley Cyrus – For refusing to conform, and celebrating diversity
Nicki Minaj – For speaking out on race, gender and sexuality
Mathieu Flamini – For trying to save the world with his geo-energy company GF Biochemicals
Adele – For breaking every record in music history
Jennifer Lawrence – For being the year’s best role model
JJ Abrams – For re-awakening The Force
Noel Gallagher – For cutting through the crap and making us laugh