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An interview with MSP Oliver Mundell

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
An interview with MSP Oliver Mundell

THE SON of a local MP, Oliver Mundell is now carving out his own political career after triumph in the Scottish Parliamentary elections.

INTERVIEW . . . reporter Amanda Kennedy with MSP Oliver Mundell

Earlier this month the Conservative candidate won the Dumfriesshire constituency seat, and is now adjusting to life as an MSP at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Oliver has previously been best known as the son of MP David Mundell, who currently serves as Secretary of State for Scotland.

But there’s far more to Oliver than just his cabinet minister father.

election scotland 2016
PROUD DAD . . . MP David Mundell was all smiles when son Oliver was elected 

At just 26, Oliver is one of the youngest MSPs at Holyrood — and the youngest to win a constituency seat.

And he believes his age will help him connect with younger voters and constituents.

Describing Dumfriesshire as having an ‘ageing population’ Oliver is keen to create ‘lifelong opportunities’ for the region’s young people.

He said: “I’ve felt for a long time there hasn’t been as much focus on issues affecting young people, and if we’re going to take the region forward, boost the local economy and create opportunities then that needs to be changed.

“It’s not good for the area if there are no opportunities to allow young people to stay here.

 “I want to see young people play a big part in promoting our area, coming up with new ideas and making sure that our towns and villages are vibrant places to live.”

And the tech savvy politician believes that Twitter and other social media outlets will help him stay engaged with his constituents.

Oliver said: “Social media is a great opportunity to connect with people in a more informal way and keep people updated

“Twitter in particular, where you are limited to 140 characters, gives people the chance to ask really specific questions and get really straight-to-the-point answers in return.

“There’s no room for waffle and it’s all out in public.”

But Oliver has no qualms about being able to engage with locals and relate to Dumfriesshire life, having grown up in Moffat where he attended the local primary school and then secondary, where he served as head boy.

He said: “Having grown up in the area I understand what it’s like to live here.

“This area has a very distinct character and I appreciate that each individual area that helps make up the constituency have their own priorities.”

Oliver briefly left the area to study at Edinburgh University, graduating in 2012 with a first class legal degree specialising in constitutional law and legal theory.

He has since worked as a paralegal for oil and gas firm Shell and as a researcher for Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon Geoffrey Cox.

And it was while at university that he met wife Catherine.

Oliver Mundell and wife Catherine
HAPPY COUPLE . . . Oliver Mundell with wife Catherine

The pair met during Freshers Week then rekindled their connection after a chance encounter at a bus stop, where Oliver offered to cook a meal for Catherine. It was a move which eventually led to marriage in the summer of 2015.

Oliver credits Catherine as being instrumental in his success, and the couple are looking forward to immersing themselves in as much local life as possible.

The new MSP has already set his sights on Lockerbie, both as a town to call home and to also serve as base for his constituency office.

Citing the town’s great rail link as a big incentive, he said: “I want to make myself as accessible as possible as I think the real job of a constituency MSP is to be part of the community, and I need to make sure that I am in a position to do that.

“Lockerbie has a fantastic train station which will allow me to make sure I’m in my constituency as often as I can be.”

And to help locals get to know their new MSP, Oliver has shared with DNG Media a few of his hobbies.

Film buff Oliver said: “I actually really enjoy going to the cinema. I think if you just sit down in front of the telly it’s easy to get distracted by your phone and everything happening around you, so it’s nice to take time out and really enjoy a film.”

And proving that the needs of his constituents are already starting to come first, he added: “One of the first things I’m really keen to push for is to improve disabled access at the Odeon cinema in Dumfries; that’s something that a lot of people raised with me on the campaign trail.”

The swimmer is also keen to help push for a swimming pool in Lockerbie.

And perhaps the most interesting fact to share about the young MSP might be his past as back-up dancer for Belle and Sebastian on stage at Somerset House.

The super fan won a competition and performed a choreographed routine on stage — an accolade of which he is very proud.

So far Oliver is just weeks into his five year term as an MSP but has already begun tackling a number of local issues.

He urges anyone in need of his help to get in touch by visiting his Twitter page @olivermundell and his website www.olivermundell.com