Holyrood: the disappeared

Some well known faces in all the major parties have lost their seats in the 2016 Scottish Election. For many it will be the end of their political careers.

They will get resettlement grants of between £30k and £60k, depending on the number of parliamentary  terms they have served from the four available. They will also get a pension when they reach retirement age – from just under £6k per annum for those losing their seats after or during one term, to just under £20k for four termers. They are also to get free career development assistance from a specialist company brought in by the Scottish government for the purpose – although this seems to be a fairly low rent service offering the sort of advice on writing CVs that most job seekers receive. [Makes you wonder – or confirms your suspicions – about the calibre of too many of our MSPs.]

Amongst the better known of the now disappeared are:

  • Labour’s Sarah Boyack, a minister in Donald Dewar’s first Scottish government of 1999 and until the SNP came to power in 2007. She held various ministerial posts over her parliamentary career, covering versions of environment and transport. She was also one of the three candidates for the Scottish Labour leadership after Jim Murphy stood down; and lost to Kezia Dugdale. Ms Boyack lost again in Edinburgh Central, taken from the SNP by Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson and could not return on the Regional List, with Labour’s one seat in Lothian going to top ranked George Foulkes.
  • Labour’s Patricia Ferguson, who had represented the Glasgow constituency of Maryhill in its various shapes since 1999. She was also an early she was Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. Ms Ferguson was this time unseated by the SNP’s Bob Doris in Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn.
  • The SNP’s Aileen MacLeod, the Environment Minister virtually taken out by the zealous land reforming faction who saw her Land Reform Bill as far from sufficiently radical – and who hid from the public during the 2015-16 Christmas-New Year floods in the Scottish borders – with her own List seat being for South Scotland. She failed to take the Galloway and Dumfries seat and was not ranked highly enough by her party in their Regional List to take one of the three List seats the SNP took in South Scotland.
  • The SNPs Dennis Robertson, elected in 2011 to the Aberdeenshire West constituency which he has now lost to the Conservatives’ Alexander Burnett. Mr Robertson was the first blind MSP to be elected to the Scottish Parliament. Mr Robertson came to wider public attention only when he made a spectacularly misjudged and wilfully blind ‘my patty right or wrong’ declaration n the Scottish Parliament, telling Labour Leader, Kezia Dugdale: ‘The member has just mentioned a crisis in jobs for the North-east – there is no crisis. We have just extracted more oil than ever before in the North Sea’. He went on to describe the North Sea as ‘booming’. The industry and the Unions were horrified – and particularly the Unions which had conducted a briefing session with a long following discussion for a cross-party Holyrood group concerned with the North Sea industry, chaired by – Mr Robertson.
  • The SNP’s Mike Mackenzie, who took the party’s third Regional List seat in the Highlands and Islands in 2011 and, ranked at third on that List again in 2016, was clearly not going to get back to Holyrood in an election where the constituency vote would be dominated by the SNP. He tried to get selection to stand for the party in Shetland, where he had worked assiduously on the SNP recruitment campaign there but could not sjpercede Danud Skene who had already stood for the party in the UK General Election of 2015 – and had taken the Shetand vote in the combined Orkney and Shetland seat then. Of the two rookies ranked above Mr Mackenzie in the SNP’s Highlands and Islands List, the number one only got a list seat.
  • The SNP’s Roderick Campbell, qualified as a solicitor, in both England and Wales and Scotland, had stood for the SNP in NE Fife three times and lost – in the 2005 and 2010 UK General Elections and in the 2007 Scottish Election. At the fourth tine of asking in the Scottish Election of 2011, he took the seat for the party – and lost it again in 2016, to popular Liberal Democrat Leader, Willie Rennie.
  • The SNP’s Christian Allard, a bi-lingual French born businessman in the fish export trade who married a Scot. Already part of the SNP’s NE Scotland operation in the Aberdeen area, he replaced Mark Macdonald as the SNP List MSP for the region, mid term in 2013, when Mr Macdonald stood down to fight [and win] the constituency seat of Aberdeen Donside. The ambitious Mr Allard then came to further attention when he chose to compete simultaneously for selection in two seats in the north east, against two sitting MSPs, each in their own way prominent in the party. Although unsuccessful in each constituency selection, Mr Allard was ranked first on the SNP’s NE Scotland Regional List – but the party’s performance in the constituency elections in that region meant that it won no List seats, so Mr Allard was not returned to Holyrood.

It is interesting evidence of the essential parochialism of Scottish politics that when, in 2013, Christian Allard took over from Mark MacDonald as List MSP for NE Scotland, his swearing-in at Holyrood was publicised for having been conducted in both French and English. A French born and bred adult will naturally speak French. Only in the sticks is it a matter of exoticism to have an MSP who can speak another language [and many in the chamber do] or who was born elsewhere.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • “The SNP’s Mike Mackenzie… was clearly not going to get back to Holyrood in an election where the constituency vote would be dominated by the SNP.”

    The constituency vote made no difference – Highland elected the same number of SNP constituency MSPs as in 2011, so the loss of two Highland list SNPs MSPs is solely down to a reduction in their regional vote, from 47.5% to 37.9%.

    The Tories’ astute move to wrap themselves in the union flag and thus, in effect, revert to their original identity as the Conservative & Unionist party has certainly paid them an impressive dividend electorally.

    It will be interesting to see whether the reverse is true – i.e. whether being hard-wired to the Tory brand will do Unionism itself any favours over the course of this parliament.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

    Tim McIntyre May 9, 2016 11:48 am Reply
  • There is an element of sectarianism in blind anti-Conservative attitudes and, like all versions of sectarianism, all this can do is unhelpfully obstruct change.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

    newsroom May 9, 2016 2:41 pm Reply
    • There’s an element of sectarianism in SNP-baaahdism too, with the same result…unhelpful obstruction to change. The whole point of having a parliamentary system elected by proportional representation is that the parties elected need to compromise and co-operate. I’m disappointed that in this election Ruth Davidson chose to characterise her party’s position as one of opposition rather than co-operation.
      When the Conservatives worked with the majority party, notably under Annabel Goldie, they were able to achieve some of their objectives, influence and shape policy, and indeed enhanced their own credibility and standing; it concerns me that Ruth Davidson’s strategy is one of opposition and obstructionism more suited to FPTP parliaments. I can’t help but think that Ruth Davisdon has cashed-in and squandered the hard work and solid achievements of others to this end.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

      jake May 10, 2016 10:25 pm Reply
  • “They will get resettlement grants of between £30k and £60k”?? Why so?
    “Resettlement”? Where are they being “resettled”? America? Australia? (Yes please!!)
    “They are also to get free career development assistance …”?? Why so?
    To re-initiate them into the real world where the rest of us actually live, because they’ve lost track of reality while they were cloistered in Holyrood?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

    ClootieDumpling May 9, 2016 6:43 pm Reply
    • It’s what Westminster does – do keep up! Also, it was a complete surprise that in 4/8 etc years time they may not have that job….

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

      JB May 9, 2016 7:21 pm Reply
  • The SNP lost Jim Eadie to the Labour party in Edinburgh Southern . Great what we Unionists can achieve when we stick together .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    Regularflyer May 10, 2016 7:39 pm Reply
    • Aye I saw Cameron, IDS, Boris on the tele. Yoonies stick together! good one . Who pays the piper.

      SNP won incidentally.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

      No Cheese Here May 10, 2016 9:49 pm Reply
    • Red and blue Tory’s together!
      Who Knew???

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Nae Fear Here May 11, 2016 8:28 pm Reply
  • “Only in the sticks is it a matter of exoticism to have an MSP who can speak another language ”

    Seriously? I find it quite astonishing that you refer to the Scottish parliament in such disparaging terms. Do tell me you were trying to be funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

    jake May 10, 2016 10:42 pm Reply
  • I think the New SNP Government will be wonderful. Full of Hope and Honesty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    Nae Fear Here May 10, 2016 10:55 pm Reply

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