PATRICK Grady, the new MP for Glasgow North, joined the SNP soon after being taken on a school modern studies trip to hear a speech by Alex Salmond.

Little did he realise that not too many years later he would be working alongside the politician as part of “Team 56” and also as a member of the party’s foreign affairs group at Westminster.

Grady’s his role in the group as spokesman on international development is particularly close to his heart.

After graduating in history and politics from Strathclyde University, he spent much of his career working for the overseas development charity the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (Sciaf).

He also spent a year teaching in Malawi, where he witnessed first-hand the hardships facing its people. The experience left a deep impression.

He said he felt quite uncomfortable when he attended a reception for British expatriates at the British High Commissioner’s House there, recalling the stark contrast between the grandness of the building’s decor and the grinding poverty outside.

Grady, who is also the SNP’s National Secretary, said the experience made him think of the need for any future independent Scotland to adopt a different style.

“This is the ironic thing. People say 'how could Scotland afford to be independent – you would have to have a network of embassies and so on',” he said.

“But if we were going to go in and build marbled-floored embassies and so on ... well yes, it would cost us a lot of money but I don’t think that’s the approach Scotland would be taking.

“What’s wrong with an office in a tower block?”

He said he was confident an independent Scotland could be a “positive force for good in the world” and build on the successes of the Scottish Government.

“The Scottish Government is already promoting a different and positive progressive vision, and if we were independent and had the resources of an independent country the impact we could have would be even more significant.

“We could build strategic alliances with smaller, more progressive democracies around the world and promote sustainable development.”

Grady is also a member of the House of Commons’ Procedures Committee, where he will examine the UK Government’s Evel Votes for English Laws Bill.

He predicts major problems ahead for the Tories.

“I think the Tories have created a huge mess for themselves," he said. "They will have a lot of explaining to do. I don’t think they have thought it through.

“It seems to me the one thing they wanted to avoid was Scottish MPs sitting on their hands, not be able to say anything or vote or walk through the voting lobbies.

“We were told we had to stay in the Union, to lead the UK, not leave the UK and all of a sudden there will be decisions which will affect our constituents but we can’t vote on them.

"It will create a second class of MP.”