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.