Stuart Donaldson: I never thought I would be an MP at 23

Stuart Donaldson

Stuart Donaldson was just 23 years old when he was elected as an MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine in May.

It makes him the second youngest Member of Parliament behind fellow SNP colleague Mhairi Black who is only 21.

He says he had no ambition to get into politics until 2014's Scottish independence referendum.

Stuart spoke to Newsbeat at the party's conference in Aberdeen about what it was like doing his job at such a young age.

Stuart Donaldson

"If someone had told me just a year ago that I would be an MP I would have told them they were crazy," he said.

"It's a steep learning curve but I'm really getting into the role and really enjoying it.

"A lot of people have said to me 'You're too young to be an MP.' To that I say, we live in a representative democracy and we can vote from 16 in Scotland.

"We need people who can represent all ages, not just middle-aged men."

Campaigners from the Scottish independence referendum

Q. How did you end up being an MP after the referendum?

"I spent a lot of time campaigning during the referendum.

"When the vote didn't go our way I thought 'what's next?'

"A lot of people who I respected suggested I stand for parliament. Some thought I was too young but others said we need a variety of candidates. And here I am and it's really fantastic."

A view of Westminster

Q. What did you think of Westminster before you worked there - and what has changed since you became an MP?

"Before I arrived I thought it was a stuffy, old-fashioned establishment where there was a lot of tradition and a lot of people bigging themselves up.

"Now I've been there a while some of that has changed but not too much. I still think it's quite stuffy but there is good debate and a lot of good ideas in there."

Nicola Sturgeon
Image caption SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

Q. SNP MPs got a bit of a ticking off in their first few days for clapping in the House of Commons. What did you think about that?

"In everyday life you clap when you appreciate something or you think someone has done well at something.

"In the House of Commons though apparently you have to make weird animal noises.

"It seems a bit strange and is something that is hard to get used to."

Q. In recent months there have been reports that SNP MPs have been enjoying the nightlife in London. How much truth is there in that?

"I think that's been exaggerated.

"Obviously London is a fabulous city for a young person to be in but we don't have a lot of time to enjoy it. We work until very late in parliament so there's not a lot of time to go out.

"But we do have the occasional drink to chill out a bit. I think people would think we were weird if we didn't."

Two wine glasses on a bar

Q. What do you think of MPs pay?

"As an MP I'm paid £74,000 a year. A lot of people think it's a contentious issue and I think to some extent they're right.

"A lot of people are going through a really hard time at the moment with the economy and for MPs to get a pay rise from £68,000 to £74,000 a year is a huge pay rise.

"I thought it was appropriate I got to give that extra money to charity and local good causes in my constituency."

Q. SNP MPs are in a strange position because they want independence from the UK parliament in Westminster. Do you want to put yourself out of a job?

"Independence for Scotland is something I feel very strongly about.

"We don't particularly want to be in Westminster. Many don't agree with us though and we need to respect that and respect the fact people voted 'No' last year.

"I think I will probably see an independent Scotland in my lifetime. I think that is possible."

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