Paul MASTERTON sat in a chair looking out on Barrhead’s Main Street, with his dark ginger hair unkempt and pastel pattern tie left looser than one would expect from a parliamentarian. 

He is very relaxed and talks fondly of the past year, spent mostly between London, his home in Paisley and his neighbouring East Renfrewshire constituency. 

Just 12 months earlier his presence in Barrhead may have come as a shock, with the thought of a Tory in Barrhead unthinkable for many before his June 2017 victory. But, according to the MP, his party colours do not mean he cannot help the more than 32,000 voters who backed other candidates. 

“I may have been elected as a Conservative but for the most part people just want to see things being done,” he said. “The work on the ground is something I’ve worked particularly hard on.

“Jim Murphy was a great local MP and is someone I’ve spoken to on a few occasions since the election. He built such a good reputation because he did a good job locally. First and foremost you are there to be a constituency MP. I hope to show Labour voters, LibDems’ voters, even the occasional Scottish Nationalist, I can do the job.

“Hopefully, people who maybe aren’t thrilled about having a Conservative MP at least see I’m someone who works hard, takes the job seriously and is committed to doing what needs to be done. 

“This isn’t a safe seat, you have to work damn hard to hold it.

“If you get this perception that you don’t take it seriously and don’t take the time to meet local community organisations, how can you expect the community to back you in the next election?”

If that is the case, the 32-year-old is already making a bid for re-election, having held court with 200 charities and businesses since last year, as well as dealing with more that 1,600 constituents. 

But this visibility often comes at a price, as the nature of modern politics puts the MP and his staff in the firing line of disgruntled residents. 

“To be honest, I don’t usually mind as it means they recognise me. At least if you’re shouting abuse at me you know who I am. 

“I have had a few things in the post and online, and even a couple of things we’ve had to flag to the Commons security team. I figure I’m the MP, I’m a target, but day to day it’s my staff who pick these up and it’s not nice for them to switch on the answering machine and have someone effing and blinding down the phone at them. 

“Hopefully, in the years to come, we can get away from this particularly nasty political discourse.”