May 12 2010 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Pamela Nash, Tom Clarke
VOTERS in Airdrie and Shotts have returned the youngest MP in the UK after electing 25-year-old Pamela Nash as their Labour representative.
The Chapelhall woman succeeded Dr John Reid in the safe seat with an increased vote share of 58.2 per cent and a 12,408 majority – just 2000 fewer than that secured by her predecessor five years ago.
Ms Nash was presented with flowers and champagne by supporters after returning officer Gavin Whitefield declared the result at Airdrie Leisure Centre at 2.15am on Friday.
She was congratulated by a large band of local Labour party members, including constituency MSP counterpart Karen Whitefield, Coatbridge parliamentarians Tom Clarke and Elaine Smith, and North Lanarkshire provost Tom Curley, the Airdrie South councillor.
The new MP previously worked as a researcher for Dr Reid and has also made history as the first former member of the Scottish Youth Parliament to ascend to Westminster.
She said: “I’m delighted as we weren’t expecting as big a majority, and it’s fantastic that the people have come out and given me their support at a first election.
“I was handed my official pack for Members of Parliament by the returning officer after the declaration, so I think it really started to sink in when I read it!
“Obviously, I had previously allowed myself to daydream about becoming an MP and that’s why I ran to be the candidate, but after the local Labour party agreed with me that I should be, it was full speed ahead towards election day and all concentration was on the campaign.
“The first thing I’ll be addressing as Airdrie and Shotts MP is that we need more jobs and investment in both towns in the constituency and I’ll be working with other representatives and agencies to try and make that happen – unemployment is starting to fall throughout the UK but doesn’t seem to be the case in Scotland.”
Ms Nash faced controversy over her selection to fight the seat, both because of her youth and as she was chosen from an all-woman shortlist which proved divisive among the constituency party.
Neither factor deterred voters, however, and she will now become the “Baby of the House” – the name given to the youngest of the 650 MPs – when the new Parliament convenes for the first time on Tuesday.
After more than 30 years of Airdrie being represented by senior politicians John Smith, Helen Liddell and Dr Reid, who had to fit their local duties around high-level Cabinet or party posts, the town’s new representative also assured constituents that her focus will be on the welfare of the area where she was born and bred.
Ms Nash said: “I’m not for all women shortlists – I would rather have stood against the men, shown my worth and made sure people knew I was the best candidate.
“However, that wasn’t the opportunity that was presented to me; we do need more women in Parliament and I was the only woman standing for Labour in Lanarkshire, so I’m glad that I was chosen.
“On age, I think that we need young people in parliament – like any business or a football team, a mixture of new blood and experience is required to make it work.
“We need more youth to be represented in Parliament and hopefully that’s what I’ll do in the coming years; I saw a lot of young people voting when I went round polling stations on Thursday so hopefully it’s inspired people in this area.
“Being the Baby of the House is an accolade and an honour and there are many people who’ve previously been in that position who have gone on to do very well, and I’d like to add to that.
“I think it’s a fantastic thing for the constituency that we’ll have someone here who’ll be concentrating on the area – I’ll be around for the people and now I’m just looking forward to going to Parliament and getting started on work as that’s what the fight’s been for.”
She said in her victory speech: “This general election has come at a crucial time for this area and for the country and there are huge challenges ahead for Parliament and the government.
“In Airdrie and Shotts, we have one big asset – that’s our people, and I’m looking forward to representing them in the coming months and years.
“There’s no greater honour than being chosen by the people from whom you’ve come and I’ll look to the great MPs of the past for inspiration.”