'I was ambivalent about whether I wanted to be alive or not' - MSP on unemployment during lockdown

Paul Sweeney revealed that he found life ‘really dark’ during lockdown

Paul Sweeney was voted in as an MSP earlier this month (John Devlin)

A newly elected MSP has said he did not care whether he lived or died after becoming depressed while trying to survive on benefits during the coronavirus lockdown.

Labour’s Paul Sweeney said it was “really dark” at times as he found himself out of a job and claiming £52 a week.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mr Sweeney, who was an MP for the party before losing the Glasgow North East seat at the 2019 general election, said lockdown was the first time he had been unemployed.

He told the Daily Record living on £208 a month was “pretty crap”.

He said: “I had got into a real funk of depression. I was in a pretty bad state at one point. I was a bit ambivalent about whether I wanted to be alive or not.

“It wasn’t necessarily suicidal or an attempt at suicide, but it was really dark at times.

“I live with myself, so there’s an added pressure of isolation during lockdown. Stuck in the flat yourself with no job. It was grim.”

Mr Sweeney, who was elected to the Scottish Parliament on the Glasgow regional list in May, said his experience gave him “empathy” for people trying to navigate the benefits system and made him more determined to fight poverty.