The 2011-16 Scottish Parliament will be remembered for a long time – its place in history guaranteed by the passing of the Referendum Act and the first SNP majority administration.. So, who will be lost to the Parliament after May 2016?
The 24 MSPs who have indicated they will stand down equates to over 300 years of experience at Holyrood. This will be a huge loss and the newbies will take a while to warm up to parliamentary procedure and the political maneuverings at Holyrood.
From the SNP ranks a number of MSPs will be standing down. The most famous of these is, of course, former First Minister Alex Salmond, but there are a number of others who have recently announced their decision to stand aside. These include the environmental campaigner and Chair of the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Rob Gibson. He’s joined by fellow Highlander, Dave Thompson MSP. Both of these Highlands and Islands MSPs have made a significant contribution to the Scottish Parliament over the years, having been elected in 2003 and 2007 respectively.
Departures for the Lords
The Conservatives have previously vowed to shake things up in their Party and retire off MSPs, but to date only two notable MSP has confirmed their retirement. Their biggest loss will Baroness Goldie’s decision to step aside and focus more on her House of Lords position, where she mixes with other former MSPs like Jack McConnell and Jeremy Purvis. The Chamber will certainly be less entertaining without her dry and intelligent wit. Otherwise longstanding North East Scotland MSP, Nanette Milne, will also depart the Tory benches in May having served since 2003.
Rebels in the Regions
From the depleted ranks of the Liberal Democrats, the announcement that former MSP, Mike Rumbles has secured top listing in the North East would indicate that Alison McInnes will be unlikely to secure a place in the 2016 Parliament. As a consistent campaigner for transport and environmental issues, among other things, she’ll certainly be missed.
Labour’s intake at the last election saw a swathe of new faces entering the Parliament. The number of retiring MSPs is therefore lower. However, some wise Labour heads, such as Malcolm Chisholm, Hugh Henry and Duncan McNeil are departing, as well as specialists on health and justice, Dr Richard Simpson and Graeme Pearson.
Ministers bow out
From the Ministerial ranks, two MSPs have indicated so far that they will be standing down – the Housing Minister, Margaret Burgess, and, more surprisingly, the relatively youthful Local Government and Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi has announced he will not seek re-election in 2016.
The End of an Era
Finally, one of the longest serving MSPs, respected from all parties, has announced her decision to stand down – Tricia Marwick, the Presiding Officer. She’s taken the reins of the job over the past five years (making her the longest serving Presiding Officer to date) with ease and has made a tremendous contribution to the smooth operation of the Parliament through some difficult times.
The 2016 intake will see a large number of new faces as so many of the well-kent ones bow out. Some will become more distant memories – though I am quite certain that Salmond’s mark is indelible.