At 20, Mhairi Black is the youngest MP to sit in the House of Commons since a 13-year-old aristocrat took his seat in 1667.

She also became one of the stars of the general election, unseating shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander in Paisley for the SNP. This week, she made it into Time magazine and pretty much every other newspaper and magazine in the planet - while still studying for her finals at Glasgow University. Despite all that, she was able to keep a diary of her first week in Westminster for Sunday Herald readers. Here it is:


On Monday morning I must be honest and say that the only thing going through my mind was making sure I managed to check in okay and got on the correct flight. Once we arrived in London it was media overload. The interest surrounding the fifty-six of us arriving was quite incredible and very telling as to how momentous the result of this election really is. Never before has there been such attention given to newly elected MPs in general, never mind MPs from Scotland. It signals recognition by the UK-wide media that something has changed in Scottish politics and now has the potential to change British politics as a whole.

We were then taken through Portcullis house where our IT, finances and security were all to be organised. In the following hours it became clear to me that people already knew who I was. I continually had members of staff smiling at me the way your distant auntie does before she squeezes your cheek after you've not seen her in five years. It was lovely in that I was constantly saying, "thank you very much, I really appreciate it" to the swathes of people offering me their congratulations. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel self-conscious and with an absolute brass neck because so many people were saying, "yes Mhairi", "no Mhairi", "How you doing Mhairi?" and I had no idea of their names to return a decent reply. Although it was a whirlwind I kept reminding myself that the sooner we get this kind of logistical and organisational stuff out of the road, then the sooner we can get to work and start helping people.


Tuesday was when I really got my taste of the 'Palace of Westminster'. There are 'doormen' who are located throughout the building dressed incredibly decoratively with long black tail coat jackets, white bowties and a solid gold royal emblem that hangs from their waistcoats to show they are her majesty's guards. The thing that I have found most striking is just how lovely all the doormen (and women) are, not only in their general manner, but in the great lengths they go to in order to ensure you are okay and are where you need to be. Westminster is an absolute maze with all the nooks and crannies you could possibly imagine, so I have been lost very many times and have subsequently become very familiar with the staff!

It is fairly difficult not to at least momentarily get sucked into the grandeur of the building itself. Mosaic floors, tapestries that reach the ceiling and the odd solid gold throne dotted about throughout the array of lavishly decorated rooms. Even despite the friendliness of the staff, you cannot help but feel you are in a historic and upper class estate due to the dress code. The building itself is a fortress from which you never need leave. It has umpteen dining rooms, bars, lounges and social areas which are equipped to deal with any desire you may have. Sitting out on the Terrace in the London sunshine I began to realise how people do become sucked into the Westminster establishment. Westminster is a bubble. It is closed off from the reality which surrounds it. As I was walking about enjoying the art work and the history in the pillars which surrounded me I continually had to bring things back to reality in my own head. This is not a museum. It is a place of work. Whilst I may be enjoying the sunshine in impressive and comfortable surroundings in the heart of the world famous Palace of Westminster, there are still children going to bed hungry in Paisley. There are still people in and out of work being made to feel helpless in Johnstone as they queue up at foodbanks to avoid starving. There are still hard working families in Elderslie who are witnessing the price of food go up but their wages remaining stagnant. It is not a museum, it is a place of work - it is the place where these wrongs can be changed.


On Wednesday we had a series of inductions on different matters such as security and parliamentary standards, which I will not go into details about. However, lunch time was quite insightful into the attitudes of some of the existing MPs and the catering staff who work there. After getting a row off of Rita at the checkout for getting chips on a piece for my lunch (as it wasn't nutritious enough and I, "need to look after" myself!), I went to sit down at a table to eat. Beside me was a table of kitchen staff who were sitting on a break, from where a woman signalled to me that I wasn't to sit beside them but to go up to the back of the room. Confused, I decided to follow her instructions as I am new and she knows what she's talking about. As I began to walk up to the back it became clear what she was talking about as I saw that there was a false partition with a sign saying "MPs only beyond this point". The minute I clicked to the division I did a U-turn and walked straight back beside the table of caterers. As I sat down I said to the woman, "If they want us to be snobby you'd think they would go all out snobby and get a different room instead of a half effort partition?!" to which the whole table responded with rapturous laughter. As we began to speak more they told us of how many MPs take their position so seriously that they refuse to sit anywhere unless it is exclusively for MPs or Lords. I expressed how ridiculous I found such a position as it actually reminded me of an episode of Friends where Joey can't sit with Ross when he begins working as a tour guide in the museum because, "blue coats don't sit with white coats". After good banter the woman said to me, "You're quite down to earth aren't you?" to which I responded, "'Normal' is the word I like to use" to which she smiled, winked and wished me a good day.


Once I arrived back on Thursday morning, and despite the fact all I wanted was my bed, I had to get an early train into Glasgow to carry out my voluntary work as I knew they were due to be understaffed. The full day was quite embarrassing as all the service users I have been working with for months were all ripping in about me for wearing a suit, "I saw you on the telly! Since when do you wear smart shirts?!" Although they were joking, they too could only remind me of the huge task we have in front if us as MPs. They are the real, first hand examples of just how much austerity damages people's lives - and now that people have entrusted us to make their voices heard, we must do just that.

After I had finished my shift I made my way home as I had to begin filling up the mountain of paperwork required to declare any financial interests I have. Although considering my last job was in a chip shop, I think I should be fine.


I did paperwork and studied!