Tayside and Central Scotland

Perth and Kinross councillor accuses colleagues of ageism

Xander McDade Image copyright Xander McDade

A young councillor has accused some of his colleagues of ageism.

Xander McDade claims he has been shouted and sworn at, and subjected to ageist jokes - including senior councillors jokingly plotting to stop him using his office.

Mr McDade was elected at the age of 23 as an independent councillor on Perth and Kinross Council in 2017.

The council's chief executive said she did not condone ageism and urged anyone with concerns to speak out.


Mr McDade, who is now 25, told BBC Scotland News that the treatment ranged from jokes at his expense to being "berated" by senior councillors.

In one instance, he said a councillor jokingly suggested a "mosquito" device be installed in his office to make it uncomfortable for him to enter it.

The controversial device emits a high frequency noise that is only audible to young people, and is often used to deter loitering.

Mr McDade said all councillors were elected equally and should be treated as such.

He said a few individuals were behind the treatment, adding: "This behaviour is designed to put you down and back in your box.

"It's difficult for young people to get a voice at the table in the first place, then for it to be made difficult for us to say what we've been elected to say is tough."

Image copyright Xander McDade

Mr McDade said he could take a joke, but the intent behind the comments was the problem.

"If the intent is malicious and to belittle someone then it's not a friendly joke," he said.

He said he did not make a formal complaint because he felt it would make his situation worse.

But he said that by speaking out, he hoped to make people consider their actions.

Age: Just a number in politics?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption William Gladstone was the UK's oldest party leader when he resigned at 84

Youngest UK party leader and prime minister: William Pitt the Younger became prime minister in 1783 at the age of 24.

Oldest UK party leader and prime minister: Liberal Party leader William Gladstone resigned in 1894 at the age of 84. Sir Winston Churchill was 80 when he retired as prime minister and Conservative leader in 1955.

Young Scottish MPs: In 2015 Mhairi Black became the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South at the age of 20 - making her the youngest MP elected since 1667. At the most recent election in 2017, Conservative Kirstene Hair and Labour's Danielle Rowley were both elected to office at the age of 27.

Long-serving MPs: The Father of the House, the title given to the MP who has the longest record of continuous service, is currently Ken Clarke who was first elected to the House of Commons in 1970. Labour's Harriet Harman is the longest continuously serving female MP.

Youngest MSP: Ross Greer became the youngest ever MSP when he was elected to Holyrood for the Scottish Green Party in 2016 when he was 21.

Oldest MSP: Gil Paterson, SNP MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie is the oldest parliamentarian at Holyrood. He is 76 years old.

Fellow councillor Alasdair Bailey said he had "challenged" ageist behaviour when he had witnessed it.

Council leader Murray Lyle said he only learned of the allegations when they were reported in the local paper.

Karen Reid, chief executive of Perth and Kinross Council, said: "The situation Councillor McDade describes is not one I recognise from my time at this council. I am sorry that this has been his experience."

She added that the behaviour would not be condoned, and urged anyone who had concerns to speak up.