Mhairi Black is a seemingly ordinary 20-year-old student who openly professes a love for alcohol, music and football (soccer). If you were to walk through any town in the United Kingdom, it's safe to say that nearly every person her age would fit the same description.
But while Black shares many similarities with her peers, she stands apart in one exceptional way: She just became the youngest Member of Parliament in over 300 years, and she hasn't even finished university.
There have been no British lawmakers younger than Black since 1667, when 13-year-old Christopher Monckton joined Parliament.
Black, who studies Politics and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow, just won the Paisley and Renfrewshire South seat in the United Kingdom general election. Her constituency is located southwest of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city.
In winning the seat, Black ousted a prominent and experienced Labour Party politician and shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander.
Black's party, the Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Nicola Sturgeon, just won a massive victory in this election, winning 56 out of 59 seats.
Much of this is an evident reaction to the Scottish independence referendum that occurred in September, ending with Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom -- 55 percent of Scotland voted "no" to independence, with 45 percent voting "yes."
Many took the result as a sign the Scottish independence movement was dead, but we can now see that was a premature conclusion.
The SNP is pro-independence, thus its success in this election indicates that Scottish independence is not such a farfetched possibility. In other words, it seems the tide of Scottish nationalism has swept over England's northern neighbor, reflected by the choices of Scotland's voters.
Her historic victory over Alexander is an enormous signal that the people of Scotland desire a massive change from the status quo and, perhaps, even long for complete separation from the UK.
As MacDonald puts it:
Hence, even though the Conservatives won a majority in Parliament and David Cameron will remain the Prime Minister of the UK, the political landscape in Scotland has shifted dramatically -- and Black's victory, along with the rest of the SNP, reflects this.
Correspondingly, MacDonald states:
In the 2010 general election the SNP only won six seats. It's now added to that number by 50.
All of this will definitely reinvigorate the Scottish independence debate, which Black will be at the forefront of given she's already making headlines.
And while Black may be young, it seems many are already quite taken with her and find her youth refreshing and passion-inspiring:
With that said, Black has been criticized in the past for incendiary tweets, particularly in regards to the Celtic Football Club:
If you're unfamiliar with Scottish politics, history and culture, football (soccer) has often played a large role in sectarianism and, in turn, violence.
Celtic and its historic rival, Rangers Football Club, have been at the center of this. Accordingly, if you're a politician in the west of Scotland (or anyone for that matter), it would behoove you to shut your mouth about football.
As MacDonald contends:
Mhairi Black definitely has her work cut out for her, and perhaps some maturing to do. But it's evident she's aware of that, and it's also fair to say that far more experienced politicians have made bigger gaffes than she has.
Not to mention, it's refreshing to see a young female rise to a position of prominence in a world where politics are often dominated by old men.
For now, we can congratulate Ms. Black on her impressive victory and hold off any comprehensive judgments until she fully assumes her role as a Member of Parliament.
Regardless of your politics, you have to admit she's a remarkable young woman.
Citations: Mhairi Black the 20 year old who beat a Labour heavyweight (The Guardian ), This Is the Youngest British Lawmaker in Almost 350 Years (Time), 6 things you should know about the UKs historic election (Vox), UK Elections Mhairi Black the 20 year old whos Britains youngest lawmaker (CNN), The colourful 20 year old SNP student who has become the youngest MP since 1667 (Daily Mail UK), Election 2015 SNP wins 56 of 59 seats in Scots landslide (BBC), Mhairi Black (SNP)