29 March 2007

The End

Although Dissolution doesn't officially take place until 3 April, today marks the last meeting of Session 2 of the Scottish Parliament. After that Scotland will technically not have a Scottish Parliament and no one will, strictly speaking, be able to use the title 'MSP'. There will be a final FMQs at 12, followed by a motion of thanks to George Reid, the Presiding Officer, who is bowing out of Holyrood, but will oversee the swearing in of the new MSPs after the election, as well as the appointment of his successor as Presiding Officer.

George Reid was one of the 'First Eleven' (he was in fact voted into Parliament as one of seven MPs in February 1974), serving as the SNP MP for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire until 1979. After a spell with the Red Cross (this was highlighted in Holyrood when he taught Members the Russian for 'Speak or you will be shot'), he returned to representative democracy in 1999, as one of the SNP Regional MSPs for Mid Scotland and Fife. His return to Holyrood was far from certain, having been ranked 5th on the Regional List for the 2003 Election, but he succeeding in winning Ochil (with a majority of just 296) from Labour's Richard Simpson, who had been forced to resign as Deputy Justice Minister earlier in the year, having referred to striking firefighters as 'fascist bastards'.

Also leaving is Susan Deacon, a Minister under Donald Dewar and Henry McLeish, and caught up in McConnell's purge of the Scottish Cabinet. She has been MSP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh since 1999, and since joining the back benches, she hasn't been afraid to speak her mind. Labour's MSPs will not contain Kate Maclean either: Maclean scraped home by 121 votes to win Dundee West in 1999, so it was seen as a shock to many that she won re-election (and increased her majority) in 2003. Janis Hughes is standing down as MSP for Glasgow Rutherglen, a post she has held since 1999. Probably leaving is Maureen MacMillan, who wants to retire but has been press-ganged into standing for Labour in Ross, Skye and Inverness West. She probably won't win, but after eight years as one of Labour's few Regional MSPs (Highlands and Islands), she won't mind too much. This will actually be the second time she's contested the Constituency at Holyrood, having been the candidate in 2003. She came third. Definitely leaving is John Home Robertson, MP for Berwickshire & East Lothian from 1978, then East Lothian from 1983 until 2001, and MSP for East Lothian since 1999. Rumour has it his heading for the Lords, but it's suggested that his departure has more to do with his accommodation expenses, which caused such a row last year.

Although George Reid was elected as an SNP MSP, he gave up his Party affiliation to be Presiding Officer. The only current SNP Member to stand down from Holyrood is Bruce McFee, MSP for the West of Scotland since 2003. Campbell Martin is standing again as an Independent.

From the Conservatives, James Douglas-Hamilton is leaving. Lord Selkirk of Douglas (as he is now), was MP for Edinburgh West from 1974 until 1997, when he was caught up in the Tory Wipeout of 1997. He had renounced his title as the 11th Earl of Selkirk in order to remain an MP and stave off a By-Election (which the Tories would almost certainly have lost), but joined the House of Lords as a Life Peer following his defeat. He has been an MSP for the Lothians since 1999, and has been the only Tory MSP with Ministerial experience, having been a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, then a Minister of State, in the Scotland Office. Phil Gallie is also leaving: Gallie was the MP for Ayr from 1992 until 1997, and an MSP for the South of Scotland since 1999. His high selection on the List in that year possibly goes down as one of the greatest examples of bad timing in politics: had he not got in, he would no doubt have stood as the Tory candidate in the Ayr By-Election, which John Scott won for his Party. Also leaving Holyrood is Brian Monteith, who started his Parliamentary career in 1999 as one of the Tory Regional MSPs in Mid Scotland & Fife, and securing re-election in 2003. He was drummed out of the Party in 2005 when it emerged that he had suggested to a newspaper that they ought to call for David McLetchie's resignation as Tory Leader.

There are two Liberal Democrat departures: Donald Gorrie, MSP for Central Scotland since 1999, and MP for Edinburgh West from 1997-2001, was the first Parliamentarian to have a dual mandate for two separate areas for the two-year overlap. He's now retiring. Jim Wallace, meanwhile, is the main departure from the Party: he was elected as the Liberal MP for Orkney & Shetland in 1987, and became leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats in 1992. This is how he went into the 1999 Election, where he became MSP for Orkney (standing down from Westminster in 2001). He then secured his Party's membership of the Coalition with Labour, which saw him appointed Deputy First Minister, and he stepped in as Acting First Minister on three occasions: Donald Dewar's heart surgery, Dewar's death in 2000 and Henry McLeish's resignation in 2001. He resigned as LibDem leader after the 2005 Westminster Election, opting to leave on a high.

It's believed that Frances Curran, the SSP's MSP for the West of Scotland since 2003, is also standing down. The final departure is Dennis Canavan's. Canavan was the Labour MP for West Stirlingshire from October 1974 to 1983, then the MP for Falkirk West from 1983 until 2000. He wanted to be the Labour candidate for Falkirk West in the 1999 Holyrood Election, but his name was kept off the list of approved candidates. This didn't deter him, and he stood as an Independent, winning comfortably. He secured re-election four years later, and he's standing down after a series of family tragedies.

1 comment:

Surreptitious Evil said...

After that Scotland will technically not have a Scottish Parliament and no one will, strictly speaking, be able to use the title 'MSP'.

Great. Pity more-or-less the same gits will be back in a month.