There’s Something About Deidre


Posted by in September's Magazine

I first met Deidre Brock in 2012 when she was Deputy Lord Provost and keen to see Pilrig Park improved. There was a meeting in her City Chambers office, followed by a walk about Pilrig Park soon after, where a number of us started the momentum for the installation of extra benches in the park, amongst other things. Since then, Friends of Pilrig Park have continued the good work and also got loads more done.

I immediately warmed to Deidre as we both travelled a long way to call Leith home. Originally from Western Australia, Deidre studied literature and acting before falling under Edinburgh’s spell whilst on holiday in 1996. After moving to Leith, Deidre worked for Rob Gibson MSP until 2007, when she was elected as SNP Councillor for Leith Walk ward. She was re-elected in 2012 later becoming Deputy Lord Provost.

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Deidre was elected as MP for Edinburgh North and Leith this May, defeating Mark Lazarowicz, the Labour MP who had represented Leith since 2001. She is a front-bench member of the SNP group in Westminster covering relations with the devolved administrations, and liaison with the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. She also sits on the Public Accounts Committee.

If you could bottle Deidre, I reckon she’d be Irn Bru – ginger, effervescent and made from strong stuff. So when she arrived at my fitness studio one chilly July morning, it was a slightly more fatigued femme who flopped into the only chair in the studio. She’d not had many days off over the last few months, and getting to know Westminster and set up her own office, with staff, on Great Junction Street was a good test of her endurance at the start of the long haul. Within a couple of minutes she’d perked up and we managed to keep the conversation on local politics, only occasionally straying onto cute dogs and other frivilousnesses.

The week before the interview I asked Twitterland for questions, to make this piece an article from the people of Leith. Local resident Clare Taylor emailed asking Deidre how she squared the decision to close Leith Waterworld with her speech on helping to create the next generation of athletes through improving the health of the population with investment in facilities.

“Running Waterworld was very, very costly, not just because it wasn’t constructed well. It was also costly to run from an environmental point of view. In addition Edinburgh Leisure didn’t want to run it anymore. I admired the drive and determination of the campaigners, but no one had the experience of running such a complex facility.”

This was obviously an issue that bothered Deidre, so she wanted to give a comprehensive answer and continued to explain: “Originally Leith Waterworld was built around the time Victoria Baths was due to shut. Then there was a big campaign to keep those baths open. Leith then had two pools very close to each other. I do believe in the benefit of sports but we do have a very successful pool just along the road at Leith Victoria.”

Mary’s Meals
Onto an easier question, Spirit of the Leithers asked if Deidre would support a Museum for Leith. She enthused, “Definitely! I was there on the open day. Fabulous, absolutely brilliant building and I will bore for Scotland about Leith and its history. I moved to Leith when I first came here. I get quite excited about the history of the place, that’s one of the reasons I love living here. You just walk past some old wall and it has 1567 written on it.

“I am constantly excited about it, so having a museum to tell Leith’s history and the maritime history of the coast is tremendous. I will do everything I can to make it a possibility. Scottish Heritage Building Trust have come onboard and they are a really good organisation to get involved with this going forward.”

(Here at The Leither we are all crossing our fingers about the Leith Museum, Customs House is a wonderful building that deserves to be used by the community, so be sure to ‘Like’ The Spirit of The Leithers Facebook page to show your support.)

Denise Strohsahl on Twitter asked what Deidre will do with her pay rise; “Frankly, at this time when people are struggling really badly, and finding it hard to make ends meet, I don’t think it‘s appropriate to take it, so I will be giving it to good causes. I’m quite looking forward to deciding what to do with it. I will definitely be putting some towards Mary’s Meals amongst others.”

At this point Coco the fitness pug jumped up to say hello to Deidre, who is admittedly one of Coco’s biggest fans (see photo). Coco likes to take part in any social situation, and it was with concerted effort that we steered the conversation back to the state of the media.

“Social media has changed everything. I became really aware of its power in the run-up to the referendum and how a story in the mainstream media was so slow to evolve in comparison to something happening like lightning on Twitter – there were claims and counter-claims that people were piecing together that was far more in-depth, whereas in print media a story is set in print for a whole day. I would genuinely love to see a more localised news service for Scotland that also covers international news. More of a local feel that covers other parts of Scotland.”

Maiden speech
In fact Deidre watches BBC Alba for localised news and also to practise her Gaelic, which she learnt for four years. Editor Billy was wondering why she took the trouble to learn the language; “I learned it because I love the Gaelic culture and for the beauty of the language, but also practically because my partner and I decided to put our children through Gaelic Medium Education, and I wanted to help them with their homework! There was Gaelic in his family, they hailed from Sutherland, so that helped decide us as well.”

And to sum up her motivation and dedication to Leith, Deidre finished with a lovely wee speech:

“I will work as hard as I possibly can as a constituency MP. Those who know me as a Councillor know that I work hard. I’ve got a great team backing me up now, so I’m expecting I’ll be able to achieve a lot. I really want to focus on getting more jobs for people in this area. In addition to Leith we mustn’t forget Pilton and Granton, I’m excited about getting into those areas and seeing how I can help. I am proud to be representing this constituency, I really am. I was so proud to stand up in the House of Commons and do my maiden speech on behalf of the people in this constituency,” says Deidre, absolutely beaming with pride.

And finally, “We need people to speak strongly on behalf of Scotland to make sure its interests aren’t sidelined, as I feel that they have been sidelined for many years. With the growing self-confidence I’m seeing Scotland possess nowadays, I think people will agree, whether they voted yes or no, that Scotland needs a stronger voice in Westminster, and I think for the most part, people are pleased that we are doing that for them.”
Yes, we are Deidre. Yes we are.

Info: Deidre Brock’s constituency office is at 166 Great Junction Street, and you can contact her by email:
deidre.brock.mp@parliament.uk
Twitter: @DeidreBrock.

Info: Tracy Griffen runs a fitness studio on Balfour Street and is also secretary of the Edinburgh branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, as well as being on the East of Scotland and Scottish Policy Unit committees.

Twitter @tracygriffen

9 responses to “There’s Something About Deidre”

  1. @KellyMacd51 says:

    We ar every proud of you Deidre ! Alba Gu Bràth <3

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